In F&W Cocktails 2008, out this month, we document two schools of mixologist thought: East Coast classicist and West Coast locavore. Here, a taste of each.


Editors at Food & Wine sampled hundreds of the country’s best drinks to compile this year’s edition of our book F&W Cocktails 2008, and while we were at it, we discovered an intriguing trend: a philosophical split between East Coast and West Coast bartenders, especially those in New York City and the Bay Area.

Enthusiasts will tell you that New Yorkers led the cocktail revolution, starting in the 1980s with the exceptional drinks at the Rainbow Room and continuing into the 2000s with modern speakeasies like Milk & Honey. New York’s best places—like Little Branch, home to Sam Ross—serve drinks that are classically based and on the dry side. In and around San Francisco, however, cocktails are more improvised, inspired by produce from the farmers’ markets. Bay Area bartenders also think locally when choosing spirits, relying on the West Coast’s many microdistilleries. Jim Meehan, deputy editor of F&W Cocktails 2008 and the mixologist at the excellent bar PDT, sums up the bicoastal divide this way: “In New York, we’re obsessed with historical drinks and techniques. Out West, they’re shopping the markets. You probably won’t find them reading old cocktail books at home and pondering the difference between a flip and a sling.”

New York City

Sherry Cocktail

Junior Merino • Rayuela

Kill Devil Punch

Phil Ward • Death & Co

The Chancellor

Sam Ross • Little Branch

Bay Area, CA

Filibuster Cocktail

Erik Adkins • Flora

Babylon Sister

Jonny Raglin • Absinthe

Thai Boxer

Scott Beattie • Cyrus