Part 5: The Return of the Classic Cocktail
Cocktails have moved front and center with spirit-centric bars that feature twists on the old classics—giving them an edge, making them bolder and sexier—expanding people’s minds and palates in the process.
Mixologist Joe Raya is part of this movement with his focus on pre-Prohibition at Gin Joint (http://theginjoint.com/) (Charleston, SC) while Dean James of Peccadillo (http://www.peccadillo.us/) (Carrboro, NC) dives deeper into the craft with slight variations on a Negroni, a Manhattan and a Martini.
Seen (and tasted!) at the 8th annual International Chefs Congress (ICC): lots of rums, gins, whiskies and bourbons used in twists on Old Fashioneds, Tom Collins and Manhattans. Among favorites sampled: Frontier Whiskey’s Rye Manhattan and Bittermilk’s (http://www.bittermilk.com) whiskey sour that used Bittermilk No. 3, a smoked honey sour.
Also interesting: The “Booty Collins” made with green tea vodka, passion fruit puree, lemon juice, simply syrup, cayenne and yohimba, from Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay from Tippling Bros. (http://www.tipplingbros.com/) (NYC).
According to Dale Degroff of KingCocktail.com (http://www.kingcocktail.com/), it’s all about thinking about drinks in culinary terms, not restricting yourself to traditional beverage ingredients, and learning to use the same “jewels” chefs use in their kitchens. His “it” ingredient at the moment is sherry—all different varieties—as well as souchou, ginger, and savory herbs and spices such as poncho chilies, Chinese parsley and thyme.
Beverage master Derek Brown takes the sherry craze to more extreme proportions with his latest venture, Mockingbird Hill (http://drinkmoresherry.com/) (Washington, DC). The bar, which boasts more than 50 different sherries (and Iberico ham), was inspired by the small bars of Madrid.