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 >
A cocktail created by a great mixologist can be as thrilling as a dish by a star chef. In this preview of the 2013 edition of F&W Cocktails, our annual compilation of the year’s best drink and bar-food recipes, we showcase some of the most inspiring combinations in America. With recipes!
Photo © Lucas Allen
Bacon is great with the smoky flavors in this mezcal cocktail.
Photo © Lucas Allen
Fried foods go well with boozy drinks. This nutty, tangy one is especially refreshing.
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Related: Reinvented Classic Cocktails
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 »