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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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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Mad Men

'Mad Men' Cocktails

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An old-fashioned is Don Draper's drink of choice on AMC's Mad Men.

© Dave Lauridsen

 

 

An Old-Fashioned is Don Draper’s drink of choice on AMC's Mad Men. Here, classic cocktails for the premiere of the fifth season of Mad Men this Sunday >

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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what to drink next

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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Cocktails

Cocktail Guide Sneak Peek

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Cocktail Preview

© Lucas Allen



The latest edition of F&W Cocktails focuses on classic drinks and mixologists’ updates. Here, the Sidecar as interpreted by Jonny Raglin of San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon >

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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

High-Tech Cocktails

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Looking beyond shakers and muddlers, the most advanced mixologists are now using unusual tools like sous vide water baths, vacuum pots and even paint-can shakers to expand their repertoires of delicious cocktails.

In New York City at Momofuku Ssäm Bar's new experimental bar annex, Booker and Dax, the French Culinary Institute's director of culinary technology Dave Arnold has brought in cutting-edge equipment. Though some of Arnold's techniques are captivating for patrons—the Red Hot Poker, for instance, rapidly heats winter cocktails before your eyes—he's less concerned about showmanship. "The concept of the bar is to use any means at our disposal to make delicious drinks," Arnold says. "We're not primarily focused on interesting presentation."

The Bangkok Daiquiri is one of Arnold's favorite examples. By employing technology he calls "nitro muddling," his team can avoid the unpleasant side of muddled herbs: namely, pieces of bruised, dull-colored vegetation getting caught in your straw or your teeth. In a mixing tin, he pours liquid nitrogen over fresh Thai basil, freezing it. The frozen basil is muddled with rum, topped with lime juice and simple syrup, then shaken. When the drink is strained through a tea strainer into a glass (pre-chilled with liquid nitrogen), only minute flecks of vividly green basil come through.

Relatively straightforward orders benefit from behind-the-scenes preparation. Manhattan cocktails are made in advance for consistency and pre-bottled in individual servings with liquid nitrogen to stave off oxidization. Though not as visually striking as a glowing poker or flash-frozen basil, according to Arnold, the wow effect is still there because the drink is not diluted with ice and there's enough extra left in the bottle for a second pour. "We actually serve you more liquid than can fit into your coupe," he says, "which people seem to enjoy."

Here's where to find more high-tech cocktails:

Aviary, Chicago: At Grant Achatz's buzzy state-of-the-art cocktail lounge, expert mixologists use a double-chamber vacuum pot to create the Rooibos cocktail tableside. In the bottom pot, gin is heated over a flame until it's sucked into the upper pot where it is infused with Rooibos tea, grapefruit, lemon zest, crushed almonds, herbs and spices. When the heat source is removed, the drink gets muddled back into the lower pot and served warm.

The Cocktail Bar at the Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans: The newly opened lounge borrows sous vide techniques from the kitchen for the Lion Amongst Ladies cocktail. The sealed mix of herbal Damiana liqueur, lemon, flamed orange peel and tequila is infused with kumquats in a warm, sous vide bath over the course of two hours.

Citizen R+D, Phoenix: At this bar-cum-research-lab, mixologist Richie Moe creates ice-cold rum-based Paint Can Punch with a repurposed antique paint-can shaker, which is so loud and vigorous that it shakes the room. Also in his workshop: a cold-drip coffeemaker used to make a Three-Hour Margarita, which for obvious reasons needs to be ordered well ahead of time.

Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco: The Bay Area's popular speakeasy offers classes in molecular mixology for the home bartender. The class covers everything from foams and spherification to working with liquid nitrogen. Students are encouraged to invent and test their own high-tech tipples.

Related: 50 Best Bars in America
Cocktails for the Coupe
Highball Cocktails

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

Cocktails

Adult Slushies (aka Shaketails)

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It’s a tough time for anyone with at least one eye on the wildly fluctuating stock market. So here’s something to make everyone feel better – or at least those adults who want to drink like children, and have valid id in case the bartender asks. Adult slushies (aka shaketails) have become wildly popular around the country. Here are a few great places to find them.

Tristan, Charleston. Cocktail popsicles are available in weekly changing flavors like Watermelon, White Balsamic Mojito and Firefly Southern Peach. Whether you want to down them as an aperitif or an extra chilled Happy Hour snack is your call.

Holsteins Shakes & Buns, Las Vegas. Located in the super-fun Cosmopolitan, Holsteins has a whole section of "bam-boozled" milkshakes on their dessert menu like the Cereal Bowl with vanilla vodka, Cap’n Crunch and Fruity Pebbles. The brand new "sorbet" shake is made with watermelon, bubblegum vodka and, surprise, liquid nitrogen. 

The Ritz-Carlton Downtown, Atlanta. Atlanta summers are so hot, it’s no surprise that the local Ritz came up with a super fun adult slushie. That would be their boozy, vibrantly colored snow cones,like Passionfruit with Lemon and Bourbon and the locally minded Moonshine-spiked one with Blackberry and Honey.

Village Whiskey, Philadephia. In July, chef Jose Garces premiered milkshakes at his two-year-old spot, which guests can order spiked or not. The long list of ingredients in the Irish Car Bomb includes rum-soaked devil’s food cake, whiskey-infused chocolate pastry cream and vanilla and chocolate ice creams; to make it even more appealing (to me anyway), it’s topped with a piece of cake.

Burger, Tap & Shake, Washington DC. Jeff Tunks, chef at this soon-to-open tavern, coined the term ‘shaketails’ and he’s taking it seriously enough to make almost everything in the drink in-house. The Dr.’s Cure mixes vanilla bean vodka with coffee liquor and vanilla ice cream. I’m not sure how the Teacher’s Pet got its name, but it combines apple brandy, ouzo, root beer with more vanilla ice cream.

La Esquina, Brooklyn. At the new outpost of the groovy Mexican restaurant in New York City, pastry chef Pichet Ong is creating a list of alcohol-soaked ices to serve to the Williamsburg locals. He’ll start with shaved ice and flavor it with tropical fruits like a pineapple margarita, flavored with fresh fruit puree, cilantro, tequila and, as is necessary for all good margaritas, salt.

Related: 20 Refreshing Drinks
Best Ice Cream Spots in the U.S.

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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.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.