Bartenders often look to classic drinks or seasonal ingredients for menu inspiration, but they sometimes find ideas in more unusual places. Here, a few of our favorite examples—and the resulting cocktails.
7-Eleven. Courtney Bissonnette, co-owner of Boston’s Coppa, decided to break from esoteric spirits and science-lab techniques and looked to the lowbrow ingredients sold at convenience stores for inspiration. The end product was The Coney Island Strongman, a mix of Miller High Life and green and yellow chartreuse. “It’s ridiculous, but people love it,” she says.
- 9 Cocktails to Make with Ginger Beer Besides Dark n' Stormies
- Beyond the G&T: 9 Fantastic Drinks to Make with Tonic Water
- 7 Top Bartenders Reveal Their Guilty Pleasure Drinks
Soup. This Thai Martini was inspired by a Thai soup recipe made with apple and coconut milk.
Thanksgiving Dinner. A Thanksgiving dish of roasted artichokes with brown sugar inspired L.A. bartender Karen Grill to combine artichoke-based Cynar with brown sugar syrup in the Vice and Virtue.
Perfume. Chicago mixologist Jay Schroeder took a tip from perfumers and added a drop of neroli oil to his cocktail, the All Quiet. Extracted from bitter-orange blossoms, "it's got that wonderful, bright, floral aroma that's very welcoming and warming," he says.
Salad. Cameron Bogue came up with the My Thai mocktail after eating a salad of green papaya, melon and Thais basil on a trip to southern Thailand. To mimic the flavors, he muddles basil leaves with honeydew juice and demerara sugar.
A Book. Drink consultant Chad Solomon was inspired to create the Chai Almond Deluxe while reading Shantaram, a novel set in Mumbai. It’s made with chai-infused Cognac, honey syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract.
Sea Urchin. Don Lee based his Celery Nori, a savory old-fashioned, on a Momofuku Ssäm Bar dish that combined uni with celery sauce and seaweed.
A Photograph. A.J. Gilbert came up with the Ice Breaker after seeing a photograph of frozen grapes in a magazine. It utilizes grapes in three forms: ice wine, a frozen grape garnish and vodka made from distilled grape, such as Ciroc or Roth.