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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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bars

Bitter Sparklers

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Clyde Common

© David Lanthan Reamer / Clyde Common

 

 

Often brushed off as sweet and simple, sparkling cocktails can have great complexity, and many bars are choosing to carbonate their own innovative drinks in-house.

Amor Y Amargo serves their carbonated Americano on tap >

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhubarb Cocktails for Spring

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Rhubarb Fizz

Courtesy of Blue Hill Stone Barns

 

Often baked into pies to balance the sweetness of fruits like strawberries, tart rhubarb—landing in markets now—is a versatile ingredient for early spring cocktails. The vegetable can be made into jam, infused with bitters or squeezed fresh for a diverse mix of seasonal drinks. Thirsty for a Rhubarb Cooler?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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what to drink next

Guinness Cocktails

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Jasper's Corner Tap

Courtesy of Jasper's Corner Tap

 

Guinness is more than just a tasty stout you drink on St. Patrick's Day. The complex, malty bitterness makes it a fantastic mixer in a range of cocktails (and even frozen drinks) being served now from Boston to Virginia. Ever heard of a Black Velvet?

 

 

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Cocktails

The Rise of House-Made Mixers

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Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar

© Alen Lin/Blue Cow

From tonic water to blood-orange ginger beer, bartenders are making everyday mixers from scratch as a way to upgrade even the most mainstream cocktails.

Read more about house-made mixers >

 

 

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Cocktails

Rethinking the Bloody Mary

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Typically relegated to brunch and used as a hair-of-the-dog hangover cure, the Bloody Mary is attracting the attention of mixologists, who are blending everything from balsamic vinegar to sausage into the salty-savory mix of tomato juice and vodka.

This month, a refined recipe by Yana Volfson, the head bartender at Freemans and Peels in New York City, took first prize against 17 other restaurants at the inaugural “Eat, Drink and Bloody Mary” contest. When she first arrived at the event, Volfson was intimidated by the variety of over-the-top cocktails, like a Mango Mary and an intense, anchovy-garnished version.

“The Bloody Mary has become a way of having breakfast within a cup,” Volfson says. By comparison, her entry was a relatively subtle departure from the original. Volfson’s requirements: approachable, balanced and not too thick. Instead of Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice (which she thinks can taste harsh), she uses balsamic vinegar and caper-berry brine to add acidity.

Both Peels and Freemans serve the winning recipe as their house Bloody Mary, but Peels also features a Red Snapper, made with floral gin instead of vodka and garnished with a crunchy radish to add a spicy element. A retired Peels favorite, which may soon make a comeback, is the Hairy Mary, made with homemade harissa, spicy ginger and smoky mescal and garnished with a sweet, crunchy carrot to contrast the drink’s heat. While creating it, Volfson was thinking about the spices in merguez, a North African lamb sausage. But unlike some new bars, she chose to simply be inspired by the sausage, rather than include it in the drink. “I generally try to keep the meat out of my cocktail,” she says.

For more inspired Bloody Marys, check out the bars below:

Veselka Bowery, New York City: Veselka’s new outpost uses kielbasa-infused Russian Standard vodka in their signature Bloody Mary and garnishes the hearty drink with a swizzle stick of either cabanossi (a dry sausage) or beef jerky—depending on what looks better at the butcher shop.

Barceloneta, Miami Beach: The South Beach tapas bar blends a fresh gazpacho, made with cream, with vodka and dry Manzanilla sherry for a rich Spanish take on the classic.

Playa, Los Angeles: This Latin spot’s new Via Maria is made with mezcal, seasoned tomato juice and chipotle chiles. With a molecular-gastronomy flourish, mixologistJulian Cox tops the smoky drink with a celery-tomatillo espuma (foam).

Related: 50 Best Bars in America
Delicious Bloody Mary Recipes
Great Brunch Recipes

(Pictured: Zee Spotted Pig Bloody Mary)

Cocktails

The New Vegetable Cocktails

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Garden Variety Margarita

© Courtesy of The Wayland
Garden Variety Margarita

While fresh-squeezed fruit juices have become common on serious cocktail menus, some of America’s best bartenders are turning to vegetables to incorporate seasonal and bitter components into their drinks.

A new spot with creative, vegetable-heavy cocktails is The Wayland in New York City’s East Village. “Most of the drinks I make come from the kitchen,” says owner-mixologist Jason Mendenhall. His refreshing Garden Variety Margarita was inspired by a cold remedy he creates at home, featuring kale and ginger juice.

For the bar’s version, he added smooth silver tequila, lime juice and agave; he serves the cocktail on the rocks with a rim of smoked sea salt. “I wanted to capture that vegetal component without scaring people away,” he says. Five days after opening, the vivid green drink became the bar’s most popular cocktail. Next up on The Wayland’s rotating drink list is a beet-juice-and-mezcal concoction, and Mendenhall is working on radish bitters as well as umami-packed mushroom bitters.

But The Wayland is not alone in trying to integrate fresh vegetables into cocktails. Here are some bars serving savory drinks to look for across the country.

Urban Union, Chicago: Recently opened, Urban Union makes a Celery Gimlet that goes down like “a cold cup of vegetable juice,” according to co-owner Jason Chan. It’s a little more complex than that, of course, and features house-made celery bitters, Hendrick’s gin, green chartreuse, St. Germaine, fresh lime juice, verjus (acidic, unripe grape juice) and a fresh celery stalk. 1421 W. Taylor St.

The Bent Brick; Portland, OR: This upscale neighborhood tavern is aggressively local, with all products, including spirits, coming from the Pacific Northwest. The Border Crossing cocktail combines a beet-based “shrub”—syrup typically made with fruit juice or vinegar—with apple brandy, smoked tea and black pepper.

Bar Congress, Austin: The Miso Mule is a Japanese take on a Moscow Mule that’s served in copper mug with crushed ice. Created by Portland transplant and bar manager Adam Bryan, the salty-smoky drink has 12-year-old Yamazaki whiskey, miso paste muddled with chunks of radish and honey, and tart Italian lemon soda.

Mateo’s Cocina Latina; Healdsburg, CA: This Mexican spot offers a seasonal Martini de Calabaza made with spiced organic pumpkin puree, cream and Reposado tequila.

Related: America's 50 Best Bars
Beautiful Cocktail Recipes
Garden-to-Glass Cocktails

Bars

Mario Batali: Great Digs, Great Charity

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Mario Batali

Mario Batali's vacation house on Lake Michigan made a top 10 list of celebrity chef homes this month, but Batali doesn't have much time to relax these days. He's one of 10 chefs uniting for Food & Wine's new charitable campaign, Chefs Make Change, and he even vows to chop off his ginger ponytail if The Mario Batali Foundation can raise $500,000 by February 7. As if that's not enough of a reason to donate, his programs help feed, protect and educate children. Donate and "like" Chefs Make Change here.

Related: Mario Batali Recipes
Star Chefs' Dream Recipes

Recipes

California Lifts Infused-Booze Ban

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Fennel and Fig Vodka

© Frances Janisch
Fennel and Fig Vodka

Good news for California cocktail enthusiasts: Governor Jerry Brown has announced the end of a Prohibition-era law that made it illegal for bars to infuse spirits with other ingredients, the New York Times reports. California's bars have been infusing liquor for years with no issues, but recently the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control started cracking down. Celebrate the West Coast’s break from the vestiges of Prohibition by creating some of your own tipsy infusions, such as an aromatic fennel-and-fig-infused vodka, plus more:

Chai-Infused Cognac
Beet-Horseradish-Infused Vodka
Jalapeño Tequila
Jasmine Gin
Nori Apple Brandy
Strawberry Pineapple Pisco

Menus

A Menu Edward Scissorhands Would Love

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Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection

© Twentieth Century Fox, © 2011 Tim Burton
Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection


As I reported a few weeks back, museum restaurants are undergoing a new wave of innovation—a happy trend for those equally obsessed with food and art, like the amazing trendsetters we profile in our September 2011 issue. In Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar geeks out on the chance to get creative with the menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar, the new Renzo Piano–designed restaurant at the L.A. County Museum of Art. For the current Tim Burton exhibition, Morningstar consulted with the famously kooky director to develop menu specials like White Rabbit with Tea in a Mushroom Forest, a bacon-wrapped saddle of rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms and pistachio crumble. “Our goal is not to be pretentious,” says Morningstar, “but we felt that, for Tim Burton, the menu should be a little bit off the wall.” The Burton classic Edward Scissorhands (my personal favorite) meets its culinary counterpart in a dish of razor clams (ha ha) and burnt octopus in squid-olive broth, garnished with a trimmed “hedge” of fresh herbs. If you need a cocktail to get into the macabre mood, try the Dr. Burton at Stark Bar: The rum-and-amaro-based concoction evokes the flavors of Burton’s favorite soda, Dr Pepper. The specials will be available through the exhibition’s close on Halloween. Next up: architecture-inspired plates to celebrate the upcoming California Design exhibit this fall.

Recipes

Bobby Flay Joins the Chicken Dance

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Chicken Dance spotlights a fantastic Food & Wine chicken recipe every day.

© Ngoc Minh Ngo
Honey Mustard Chicken

Chef and TV powerhouse Bobby Flay joins spiky-haired, tenderhearted Anne Burrell for the third season of Worst Cooks in America in February, the Food Network announced this week. His no-nonsense criticism should bring the desired competition-series tears, but it’s less embarrassing to learn from his dishes in your own kitchen. Flay’s Honey Mustard Chicken recipe has a sticky, sweet-and-spicy glaze inspired by the Savannah Bee Company’s tupelo honey. Active cooking time is 20 no-pressure minutes, so there’s no reason to get weepy.

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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.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.