The cocktail renaissance is the biggest thing to happen to drinking since the advent of fermentation. We asked five of the top names in the game to tell us what they’re drinking now, what’s cool (and what’s not) this very moment — and if they have any advice for contending with the morning after.
Eat Street Social
Drink: The “Iroquois.” A standard whiskey sour with no egg white; two drops of birch extract (yes, extracted from the pulp of birch trees); and a glass rinse of “crème de flora,” a Bittercube extract of six dried flowers. Whiskey of choice: Buffalo Trace. Served in a Nick & Nora (a classic coupe glass with higher sides) with a sidecar.
Why: “It’s like walking in the woods, coming across a bunch of spring flowers, and then getting run over by a buffalo.”
Trend he loves: He recently put fish sauce into a drink. Just a few drops, mind you. “It was pretty crazy.”
Trend he hates: Companies lowering the proof of their rye whiskey in order to keep up with demand.
Hangover cure: Coconut water, smoothies and working more double shifts to justify those “six hours on the couch” kind of days.
La Belle Vie
Drink: Her take on a Manhattan.
Elm combines Rittenhouse Rye, which she says is bold, affordable and stands up to sweet elements; root beer bitters; and demerara brown sugar syrup. It all gets poured over an orange wheel.
Why: “I love brown liquor, and if my guest is willing to go there, it’s a great way to lead them in the direction they want to go with a drink. Sweet, not so sweet, etcetera. I like playing around with the Manhattan because then the drink can become about them, which is the way it should be.”
Trend she loves: “You can come into La Belle Vie and ask a bartender to play around with your own housemade bitters if you want.”
Trend she hates: “This business is all about the guest, not about the cocktail. I don’t like to see cocktails being pushed on people.”
Hangover cure: “Milk Thistle, which is kind of a hippie band-aid for your liver. Or, have a shot of Jameson and move on with your day.”
La Belle Vie
Drink: He asks first what I like to drink. We settle on his take on a French 75: Champagne, gin, sweet and sour, crème de violette, fresh lemon and a sugared rim. He likes Citadel gin for its nice balance of botanicals — not too soft or too bombastic, plus he likes the “ergonomics” of the bottle. The Champagne is Jacques Chaput, a pick from sommelier Bill Summerville. “Bill knows his wines, and it’s a luxury for me to only have to know cocktails.”
Why: “I’m just a dating service between people and drinks.”
Trend he loves: He’s going against the “handlebar-mustache twisting” and “thinking about the future rather than re-creating the past.” Keep an eye peeled for “Outer Space Cocktails.”
Trend he hates: Not a trend, but raised as a Catholic, he sometimes worries that he’s doing “the devil’s work.”
Hangover cure: A lot of water. And, choosing quality over quantity (i.e. not cultivating a hangover in the first place).
Drink: He admits his drink of the moment is not a cocktail at all, but a spirit. “I’ve been bitten pretty hard by the Scotch bug,” he says. “I believe craft cocktails are proving to be a gateway into spirits appreciation.”