The Torpedo © Emily Hsu
We use oils in just about every aspect of our lives: cooking, cleaning, car maintenance. Now bartenders are using oils—sparingly—in cocktails, for their intense aromas and flavors. MORE >
Dixie Cocktail Courtesy of Hard Water
Mention crème de cacao or crème de menthe to anyone who drank through the 80s and they will cringe as if they had just been offered a pair of parachute pants. Though associated with saccharine, often artificially colored cordials, true crèmes can be elegant, velvety digestifs or superb cocktail modifiers. Today, artisan producers are restoring crèmes to their respectable form, much to the delight of bartenders who use the vibrantly flavored, sweet liqueurs in revivals of long-lost cocktails and terrific new drinks. MORE >
Cilantro Martini © Lauren Feighery
Across the country, bartenders are moving away from heavy, earthy cocktails and replacing them with bright and bracing drinks made with fresh herbs. At Austin’s Drink.Well, co-owner Jessica Sanders and her bar staff created three tinctures (rosemary, cilantro and basil) to star in off-the-menu herbal gin martinis. Each tincture—made with quality vodka infused in a jar packed with herbs—complements a specific gin and vermouth. MORE >
Fire & Smoke © Aaron Cook | AACK Studio
You love them for shade, for climbing, and if you're a squirrel, for their cozy hollows, but trees also have a lot to offer when it comes to cocktails. The roots and bark imbue tinctures with a woody sweetness, the sap lends itself to an aromatic syrup, the leaves infuse spirits with freshness and the buds can be made into a concentrated tree-essence. MORE >
Mr. Brownstone © Carissa O'Connor
Approachable Irish whiskey is often served straight, but the smooth, lightly spicy spirit is also delicious in cocktails. “It tastes like butterscotch and toffee,” says Erick Castro, bartender at San Diego's new soda shop-style bar Polite Provisions. “I have a lot of friends who aren’t cocktail drinkers, but they’ll take a shot of Jameson without hesitation.” Castro loves to mix it in cocktails like Mr. Brownstone, a fizzy drink that combines Jameson, housemade cinnamon syrup and Angostura bitters and is charged overnight with CO2 then served on draft. The result is a lightly boozy, caramel-tinged cocktail served on the rocks with a star anise garnish. Here, more cocktails that highlight easy-drinking Irish whiskey.»
The Archduke © Brent Herrig
Lightly sweet and fresh, fennel is the perfect bridge from winter to spring. Like a lot of chefs, many cocktail experts are fans of both fennel bulbs and the plant’s herbaceous fronds. At New York City’s The Third Man—Edi & The Wolf’s little, boozier sister—Austrian chef-partner Edi Frauneder uses fresh baby fennel juice in the Archduke. Frauneder first dehydrates fennel fronds with a quick blast of liquid nitrogen, then adds ice, Laird’s Apple Brandy, bittersweet Cynar, fresh fennel juice made from the delicate bulb and Peychaud’s bitters. He stirs the anise-scented cocktail, then strains it into a rocks glass with one large, hand-cut ice cube and garnishes it with a fresh fennel frond. Here, more fennel drinks that offer a taste of spring. »
The Sake © Jannie Huang of Little Green Pickle
Sake has long been associated with dubious karaoke-bar offerings (sugary-sweet lycheetinis, Sapporo sake bombs), but the fermented rice drink has a lot more to give the mixology world. Pioneering bartenders are using high-quality sake to create superb new cocktails that showcase its range of flavors, from light and dry to full-bodied and mildly sweet. MORE >
Marrow 75 Courtesy of The Marrow
Pink Gin—a term for gin mixed with Angostura bitters—was incredibly popular in England starting in the 19th century when the British navy used the concoction to combat seasickness. It was so ubiquitous that James Bond drinks one in Sir Ian Fleming's, The Man with the Golden Gun. His order: Beefeater with "plenty of bitters." The combination is now catching on in the U.S., where American bartenders are using bottled pink gin in Valentine's Day-perfect cocktails. MORE »
Talking with Rosie Schaap, it becomes increasingly evident that any good bar would want her as a regular. She’s easy going, funny, smart and genuinely interested in other people, and for the most part, she orders whiskey on the rocks—a no-fuss drink. In fact, Schaap, the Drinks Columnist for the New York Times Magazine, has become a regular at several bars around the world in her day, something that she writes about in her phenomenal new memoir, Drinking with Men.
Schaap is an expert storyteller. She takes readers from her days following the Grateful Dead through love affairs to working as a minister after the September 11 tragedy, with the bars she frequents and the friends she’s made in them playing a pivotal role in her daily life. For a book that’s purportedly about drinking, it’s intriguing how little of it touches on actual drinks. It’s the neighborhood bars Schaap inhabits that become their own little worlds–like Grogan’s pub in Dublin where everyone knows the words to the same bar tunes, or The Man of Kent in Hoosick Falls, NY, loved by many a biker on Route 7 or the (now closed) Liquor Store in Manhattan’s Tribeca.
Schaap misses Liquor Store most. “I just loved the mix of people there,” she tells F&W. “You just felt that everyone was happy to see each other and perfectly relaxed. It was a very simple unadorned place but it was a beautiful corner bar and the light was really special in late afternoon just before it turned into evening. That was really the most beautiful time there.”
While Schaap mostly chronicles her time as a patron, on Tuesdays she can usually be found bartending at South in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. “There is a lot more responsibility behind the bar, but I still feel as curious about people when I’m serving them as I do when I’m just sitting on the civilian side talking,” she says.
She won't be there tonight. Schaap is doing a reading at 2A in the East Village at 8 p.m.–and then will be off to Chicago, San Francisco and Boston over the next couple weeks on a book tour.