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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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New Slideshow

The Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Bars

Smuggler's Cove; San Francisco

Love to drink out of a ceramic skull? These top tiki bars are right up your tropical alley.

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New Slideshow

Where to Drink the Best Cocktails Right Now

Pouring Ribbons, New York City

From speakeasies like New York's PDT to Sasha Petraske's The Varnish in L.A., here are the best bars for obsession-worthy cocktails.

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New Slideshow

Where to Book a Hotel Based on Its Bar

The Nomad Hotel

Whether or not homeward bound travelers next week have the liberty of staying in a hotel, these expert bars can provide some respite from the holiday crush. From New York's NoMad to Bradstreet Craftshouse at the Graves 601 Hotel in Minneapolis, here are the country's best hotel bars. New Slideshow: Best Hotel Bars

Dispatch

Bar Crush: London’s Duck & Waffle

A few months ago when I was in London, I fell in love with a bar. Duck & Waffle is set on the 40th floor of an office building; the city views are astonishing. Even better from my point of view: The place is open 24/7. I wasn’t the only one to appreciate this opportunity to eat and drink at all hours of the day and night—star chefs Danny Bowien and Heston Blumenthal have logged time there too. Read more >

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What Not to Do

5 Signs Your Bartender Is Doing It Wrong

Good glassware.

Just as bartenders have evolved to become more knowledgeable and engaged with their craft, so too have bar patrons. But not every bar—nor every barkeep—can keep up. Pay attention and you might spot a few surefire signs: If your bartender mixes a classic daiquiri with bottled sour mix, or shakes a Manhattan (a drink that should invariably be stirred) it’s an indication you ought to stick to the basics. We talked to a few cocktail industry vets to suss out other harbingers of doom behind the bar. Read more >

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Trendspotting

Chefs Behind Bars

Louisiana Cheese Fries with Crayfish and Gravy

Instead of turning customers away, chefs are opening bars—to handle the overflow from their flagship restaurants, to try something more casual or to explore different cuisines. Here's where to visit next.

Diners waiting to eat at The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle can pass the time with charcuterie and cocktails at Barnacle bar. thebarnaclebar.com

In Portland, OR, Gabrielle and Greg Denton own the restaurant Ox, and now also The Whey Bar, which serves drinks like The Whey We Were. oxpdx.com

Customers can drink whiskey sours and eat wings at Whiskey Soda Lounge NY while waiting for a table at Brooklyn's Pok Pok NY. pokpokpdx.com

Cambridge, MA's Hungry Mother books up far in advance, but diners can try chef Barry Maiden's Southern food at his dive bar, State Park. stateparkcambridge.com

Chef Kelly English shows his love of New Orleans cuisine at The Second Line in Memphis, which he calls Restaurant Iris's "rowdy cousin." His recommended midnight snack: Louisiana Cheese Fries to go with a crisp pilsner. secondlinememphis.com

Related: America's Best Bars
Best Beer Bars
Best Hotel Bars

Drink This Now

Mead: Not Just for Renaissance Fairs

Distilled NY's Mead Americano

Mead may call to mind Friar Tuck in that Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, or something sipped only by Renaissance fair–goers for the sake of historical accuracy. But the honey wine is worth drinking even when smoked turkey legs and jousts aren’t involved. Ranging from dry to sweet, floral to earthy, mead can pair with anything from buttery desserts to spicy Sichuan. At Distilled NY, a Tribeca tavern inspired by the American public houses of yore, bartender Benjamin Wood features four meads and one mead-based cocktail. “Mead is the grandfather of all fermented beverages,” he says. “It’s the OG.”

 

Here, a mead primer from this honey wine lover:

What is Mead?
“Mead is fermented honey and water,” Wood says. “It can be sparkling, still, sweet, semisweet, dry, flavored with spices, and served like a mulled wine during the winter: warmed with cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and clove. The variations are limitless.” In terms of body, Wood compares it to a Riesling but heavier. “Expect it to have a more viscous texture than a typical dry white wine,” he says.

Historical Significance
“Mead predates cultivated soil,” Wood says. “From what I understand, that began around 2000 BC. Some historians have used it as a marker to indicate the change in humanity from nature to culture.” Mead also is connected to the origination of the term honeymoon: “It is derived from a historical tradition where newlyweds were given honey wine (mead) to drink every day for one full moon after their wedding to enhance fertility,” Wood says. “Mead is considered a natural aphrodisiac.”

How to Serve Mead
“It’s made from honey, so there are particles that could coagulate when mead gets too cold, so a lot of people recommend serving it at room temperature,” Wood says. “But the response from the public is that they want it cooler, so we chill it. It’s just a matter of finding the right temperature so that it’s not cold enough to coagulate but chilled enough that it’s pleasing to a palate.”

4 Meads to Try
All of Distilled NY’s meads are still and come from New York: two from Earle Estates—the traditional, which is sweeter due to more residual sugar, and the semisweet contemporary. Rounding out the selection is a traditional, floral style from Carroll’s Mead, and one from Mystic Mead, which is made with a blend of wildflower honeys to achieve a “more herbaceous, earthy quality.”

How to Make a Mead Cocktail
At the bar, Wood uses Carroll’s Mead in the Mead Americano, his take on the classic bittersweet cocktail made with Campari, vermouth and club soda. “It’s a spirit-on-spirit, all-booze cocktail,” he says. He mixes Aperol with juniper-heavy Spring 44 gin and the lightly sweet mead, and then carbonates the drink in-house for fizz. It’s served on the rocks with a dash of grapefruit bitters and grapefruit oil.

Related: Reinvented Classic Cocktails
Beautiful Cocktails
America's Best Bars

Drink This Now

Why Every Bartender Needs a Cat

Here Kitty Kitty Cocktail

Cats can’t fetch a Frisbee. They can’t sit on command. They can’t go on walks. But they can inspire cocktails. At Loa, in New Orleans, there are two cocktails for which the bartender Alan Walter has his cat, Tammy Why-Not, to thank. MORE >

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Drink This Now

5 Must-Have Mezcals

Mezcals

Written off as tequila’s smoky brother, mezcal is a lot more than just something for Scotch drinkers to enjoy when in a Mexican restaurant. “Every mezcal will influence your mood in a different way. They have these different energies,” says Lucas Ranzuglia, the bar manager at San Francisco’s forthcoming La Urbana. “It sounds like B.S., but it’s true.”

When the restaurant and mezcaleria opens August 28, it will feature 46 mezcals—Ranzuglia hopes to eventually carry 80 different bottles—and a tasting room for mezcal classes. “When it comes to mezcal, you have huge differences because it is being produced all over Mexico,” Ranzuglia says. “The character of the mezcal comes from three factors: terroir (the soil and weather conditions of the land where the agave is grown), the type of agave plant, and the local knowledge and traditions that were passed from generation to generation.”

Here, Ranzuglia’s top five mezcals to try >

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Drink This Now

Secrets to Drinking Like You're in Havana

Havana Beach

I'm not saying I went to Cuba. But if I had gone, I probably would have spent most of the time eating lots of grilled lobster (the stripey Caribbean kind, not the red Maine kind) in paladares (restaurants run out of magnificent family homes) and over-consuming exceptional rum-based cocktails. As the birthplace of the mojito and the spot where Ernest Hemingway popularized the Papa Doble (a double frozen daiquiri), Havana would inspire any non-heretics to drink copious amounts of each. Again, I'm not saying that I went there, but if I had, these would probably have been my most memorable brushes with alcohol. MORE >

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Join celebrity chefs, renowned winemakers and epicurean insiders at the culinary world’s most spectacular weekend, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.