Ice and snow still cover the ground in much of the country, but just the same, planning for spring cocktail menus starts now.
Of course, there shouldn't be just one spring cocktail menu. Kurt Vonnegut said that there weren't four seasons but six - March and April becomes the season of "unlocking," or the transition time between rough winter and lovely spring (November and December in his mind were "locking," between fall and winter.) So an early spring, or unlocking, menu makes lots of sense, when warm drinks can still be required and brown spirits featured, but also when a hint of the warmer weather around the corner is in the air.
It's also a perfect time to feature more drinks made with Irish whiskey, not only because Americans drink so much Irish whiskey around St. Patrick's Day, but also because the more mellow type or whiskey most Irish expressions offer provide a neat way to move from darker and stronger brown spirits of winter to lighter types of spring and summer. It's also a good time to feature more Irish as the surge in popularity of Irish continues at a double-digit rate in the US, and more brands - including the recently arrived Teeling whiskies - are devising more methods to increase consumer interest in what was once America's most favorite whiskey.
What else would an "unlocking" spring drink menu feature?
Many operators feature the heartier, dark and strong brews throughout the winter, so why not make the transition by crafting a cocktail based on one of those beers? Similarly, including one of the ciders you may have added recently in the cocktail mix makes sense; cider appeals to men and women both, and a cocktail finished with something sparkling is definitely on trend.
Tequila cocktails are predominantly based on blanco varieties these days, but as the quality of reposados and anejos improves and Americans keep proving with their wallets how much they enjoy the agave spirit. A darker tequila cocktail is a good way to build an "unlocking" cocktail menu.
It may also be a good time to experiment with your Bloody Mary set-up, if you don't have a vibrant one in place, as March madness brings out a crowd of weekend basketball fans who are notoriously inclined to otherwise sip beers endlessly.
That's a start; other ideas abound when you start to think of your spring cocktail menu as two different season’s altogether. This year, think about what "unlocking" can do for you.