A Bitter, Cold End to SummerSeptember 20, 2011 By: Jack Robertiello
Sure, the weather is already cooling down over much of the country, but bars have yet to abandon the frozen drink resurgence. In fact, the newly opened Tippler in New York City’s Chelsea Market, a project of Tippling Bros. Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, kicks off its autumnal opening with five drinks in a category they call “Lushies.” There’s the Wise Cold Sage, made with Rhum J.M white agricole, creole shrubb, grapefruit, sage, sirop de canne; the Screaming Greenie, made with Pernod absinthe, Finlandia vodka, exploding basil leaves, lemon; and the Snow Groni — a Campari-based beverage showing up this fall as part of its rebound from summer menu afterthought. Lots of other drinks on the menu, but it's one more sure sign that frozen drinks are gaining traction.
At Philly’s Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co., the happy hour-ish “Extra Credit” program focuses on the Negroni and its variations: La Rosita (reposado tequila, Campari, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters), the Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth) and Old Pal (rye, Campari, dry vermouth).
In Washington, D.C., the bartender’s continuing love affair with bitter is showing up at Bibiana Osteria Enoteca with two aged cocktails from Wine Director Francesco Amodeo. Each is made by aging concoctions for three months in Italian oak barrels made by Amodeo’s grandfather on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. One is a take on the Negroni made with Bombay Sapphire, Luxardo bitters and Cocchi sweet vermouth, while the Katia is made with Redemption rye, amaro averna, homemade marasca liquor and homemade chocolate bitters.
Bibiana Osteria Enoteca in Washington, D.C., features two aged drinks on its beverage menu.
Barreling one’s own cocktail is the latest tweak to grab bartender and drink geek attention, but some have taken handmade in a slightly different direction. More than a handful of bartenders (e.g., Duggan McDonnell, Adam Seger) already are known for their work on developing their own spirits, and others are hard at work on getting their personal take on liquor or cordials developed. But not everyone can manage that or even wants to. So enter the made-to-order spirit world, something akin to what whiskey makers have long offered customers who can pay for their own barrel of fun: a chance to put your name on a unique product.
In San Francisco, a few options have appeared: At Dosa, a house-specific of Blade Gin — a result of collaboration between Old World Spirits and barman Lenny Gumm — gets a jolt of fresh curry leaves, cilantro, black pepper and ginger. At Bar Agricole, bartenders and owners Eric Johnson and Thad Vogler worked with Fresno's Marian Farms to make a biodynamic orange liqueur, the Marian Farmhouse Curaçao. And at Comstock Saloon, Jonny Raglin worked with St. George Spirits to create a one-off blend of Petite Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brandies aged between 11 and 19 years.
We can expect tap cocktails, most recently the aforementioned Tippling Bros.' work at Chicago’s Mercadito, to become the next new thing as operators figure out a way to pair creativity with operational efficiency. Only a few folks bother to put spirits on tap, but when volume is high, why not? At Sully’s Side Bar in Austin, Texas, cocktails including the True Austin Daquiri (Treaty Oak Rum, simple syrup, lime juice, jalapeno) and the Mexican Martini (El Jimador Blanco, Paula's TX orange liqueur, lime, olive juice) are backed up by taps featuring hyper-chilled Avion and Patron tequilas. It may be a lot colder now than the killer July that swept Texas, but like in other parts of the country, a good, cold drink is always welcome.