Cocktails & Spirits

It’s no surprise that the origin of the cocktail is muddled; some say the first was a medicinal rum drink made by British explorer Francis Drake in the 1500s while others point to the Sazerac, which was created by a New Orleans merchant in 1850. Regardless of what defined the “first”, cocktails have evolved to include a menu of spirited drinks ranging from boozy Manhattans to the fruity daiquiris. Cocktail culture has expanded, too: these days bartenders are as creative as chefs, showing the same dedication to using quality ingredients and pushing flavor boundaries. Spirits are the base of cocktails though many, like small-batch bourbons or bitter Italian amaros, are just as delicious when sipped on their own. Gin, tequila, Scotch whiskey, pick your poison: our F&W guide to cocktails and spirits has you covered with recipes for cocktails listed by spirit, season, and ingredient, plus how-to tips for mixing the best drinks and editor’s picks for where to drink next.

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Food & Wine: Best Places to Drink Cider
Best Places to Drink Cider
The American cider industry got its first break on the Mayflower, which carried a cider press and apple seeds to the new world. Though Americans have consumed cider for centuries, the market has grown substantially in the last few decades thanks to great producers as well as consumer interest in gluten-free alternatives to beer. With a growing variety of styles made around the country, it's worth tasting a wide selection to better understand the difference between a French-style sparkling cidre brut and a Massachusetts heirloom hybrid recipe. Tasting notes can range from “funky forest floor” for those modeled after traditional Basque ciders, to “clear crisp grapefruit” for heavily filtered offerings from the American Northeast.   Since so much of the unique character that distinguishes one cider from the next depends on the apples used to make it, cider is often one of the most local drinks you can order on a menu in places not known for their Cabernet Sauvignon or Bavarian Hops. Cider apples tend to taste bitter when eaten raw, but it’s all about the juice, and particularly, the sugar they yield when pressed. Though distinct varieties like Newton Pippin, Yarlington Mill and Esopus Spitzenburg may be prized for their flavors when pressed into pomace, you’re unlikely to find them in the produce section at Trader Joe’s.   After so many of the prized colonial era orchards were destroyed during prohibition, the biggest challenge these days might just be cultivating enough of the right kind of apples to keep up with America’s seemingly insatiable thirst for apple nectar. Luckily, there are producers who are doing just that.  Here's where to find some of the best cider in America right now.—Joe Stanek

Cocktails, Mixed Drinks and Spirits

Classic Cocktail Recipes