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Top Cocktail Trends to Watch For in 2013

The Third Man uses chef-y ingredients in its cocktails, like Fennel.

The Third Man uses savory ingredients in its cocktails, like Fennel.

Like Kale salads and Sriracha sauce, small batch bitters and speakeasy-inspired cocktails are so 2012.  The “of the moment” drinks involve serious technique, like smoking, pickling and molecular pyrotechnics.  From chef-driven tipples at The Third Man in the East Village to grown up Daiquiri’s at Donna in Brooklyn, here are the Cocktail Trends you can expect to see more of in the coming year!

Chef-Driven Cocktails

It’s true.  Most relevant New York restaurants take their cocktail programs seriously, but certain chefs are demanding a whole other level of quality control.  Take Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, the Michelin-starred duo behind the modern Austrian restaurants Seasonal and Edi & the Wolf.  They opened The Third Man in December, utilizing savory ingredients from the kitchen (fresh vegetables, homemade cordials), and chef-driven techniques, like smoking, pickling, & the use of liquid nitrogen to concoct an inventive roster of cocktails.  Take the “Archduke,” created when Frauneder handed head bartender J. Rosser Lomax a batch of fennel juice.  Combined with Apple Brandy, Cynar and Peychaud’s bitters, the resulting drink is perfectly balanced and plain perfect when paired with savory small plates (which doesn’t happen often), like Pumpkinseed Ricotta with Pickled Butternut Squash, as well as Pork Cracklings with Apple and Onion.

Mixologist Jason Mendenhall and chef Robert Ceraso are equally collaborative at their new Avenue A bar, The Wayland.  They not only share workspace, but also ingredients, including homemade chutneys and sodas, fruit, and fresh herbs.  Try the “I Hear Banjos,” made with Apple Pie Moonshine, Apple Spice Bitters, and Applewood Smoke, alongside a sandwich of Chicken Liver, Bacon, Apple, and Apple Cider Vinaigrette.  Another fine pairing is the “Smoked & Roasted,” a blend of Mezcal, Chipotle-infused Agave Nectar, Lemon, and Chili Salt, enjoyed with an order of Pimenton, Rosemary, and Maldon Sea Salt-Dusted Hot Nuts.

Dolled Up Daiquiri’s

You won't find Donna's citrusy Daiquiri at any old Tiki bar.

Do Daiquiri’s make you think of that slushy, cloyingly sweet stuff dispensed at cheap, stateside Tiki bars, or peddled to patrons at all-inclusive honeymoon resorts in the Bahamas?  Don’t get us wrong.  Both definitely have their place, but we’re digging the elevated versions we’re starting to see around town.  Instead of being frozen, the “Donna Daiquiri” at Brooklyn’s new Central American themed bar, Donna, is simply shaken and served up on the rocks.  It’s a whole lot more citrusy than they are cloyingly sweet, made with a refreshing blend of Rum, Lime, and Grapefruit Cordial.  Order a few sunny, small bites to go alongside, like Fried Plantains or Salt Cod Toast, and pretend you’re summering in old Havana.

Booker and Dax’s owner, Dave Arnold, is also the Director of Culinary Technology at the French Culinary Institute, so it’s no surprise that he loves devising creative twists on old favorites, like adding Horseradish-infused Essential Oil to the House Bloody Mary.  And in a nod to Momofuku Ssäm Bar (where Booker and Dax shares space),  the Daiquiri’s all have touches of Asian fusion.  There’s “Robby’s Daiquiri,” made with Milk-clarified Rum and Lime, and the “Bangkok Daiquiri,” with White Rum, Lime, and Thai Basil.  Both are shaken, and awesome paired with Asian-inspired snacks like Kimchi Deviled Eggs, Steamed Pork Buns, and Caviar with Brioche and Yuzu Crème Fraiche.

Tipples for Teetotalers

Alcohol free Drinking Vinegars are the star of the bar at Pok Pok Ny.

Alcohol-free Drinking Vinegars are the star of the bar at Pok Pok Ny.

You don’t have to drink to go a bar or restaurant.   Alcohol-free beverages have evolved far beyond Soda Pop, Virgin Pina Colada’s and (gasp!) Shirley Temples.  Andy Ricker’s insanely popular Portland transplant, Pok Pok Ny, is as famous for its line of Som Drinking Vinegars, as it is for its endless waitlist and fish sauce-slathered Chicken Wings.  Mixed with soda water, these pleasantly tart concentrates come in flavors like Tamarind, Pomegranate, Honey, and even Celery, and can even be purchased by the bottle to take home.  (How cool is that?)  Ricker will also be opening an offshoot of his Oregon-based Whiskey Soda Lounge right next door to Pok Pok Ny, which is bound to put even greater emphasis on these delectable “no-proof” drinks.  Can’t make it out to Brooklyn?  If you can look past its massive wine list, the Michelin-starred PUBLIC restaurant, located in Nolita, also carries Pok Pok’s Drinking Vinegars, along with a few other alcohol-free options.  The “Cucumber and Thyme Fizz” with fresh Cucumber Juice, Lemon, Thyme, and Boylan’s Selzer is (almost) as enjoyable as any other, alcohol-spiked cocktail on the menu.

Spanking new FiDi bar, The Dead Rabbit (what a name!),  takes its old-timey cocktails rather seriously.  There are two separate drinks menus (The Parlor and The Taproom),  both divided into multiple categories (Mixed Drinks, Cocktails, Spirits, & Highballs),  and broken down even further into subcategories (Cups and Cobblers, Slings and Toddies, Fizzes and Daisies, etc.).  What on earth is a non-drinker to do?  We say seek out the “Brunswick Cooler,” listed under Diverse and Invalid beverages (ha!).  This assuredly adult concoction consists of Lemon Sherbet, fresh Lemon Juice, Ginger Syrup, Coriander Tincture, and Siphon Carbonic.

Sherry Takes Center Stage

Believe it or not, the Tahona Smash owes all its deliciousness to Sherry.

We know what you’re thinking.  Sherry?  Restaurateurs, like John Fraser, have been trying to help change its image for a few years now.  Well, 2013 just might be the breakout year for the fortified wine.  The buzzy, new East Village cocktail bar Pouring Ribbons (mixology powerhouse Joaquin Simo is part owner),  is unapologetic in its heavy-handed use of the stuff.  In fact, Sherry makes an appearance in nearly half of the more creative cocktails on the menu, like the “Lust for Life,” which pairs Palo Cortado Sherry with Mezcal, Pineapple, Orgeat, and Coco, and the “Tahona Smash,” which combines Dry Amontillado with Tequila, Lemon, Caramelized Pear, and Bitters.

You wont have to wander far in the East Village to find yet another Sherry stronghold.  The Beagle offers an extensive list of dry Sherries by the glass, including “La Gitana” Hidalgo Manzanilla, “Sangre Y Trabajadero” Gutierrez Colosia Oloroso, and “Elcano” Gutierrez Calosia Fino.  Sherry also shows up time and again on the cocktail roster, including in the “Sherry Cobbler,” a blend of Amontillado, Berries, and Lemon, or served on the rocks in “The Second Marriage,” made with Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Bourbon, Calvados, and Bitters.

Raising the Bar with Vermouth

What's on tap at Amor y Amargo? Vermouth, of course!

What’s on tap at Amor y Amargo? Vermouth!

As we’ve seen in the last year or so, any bartender can and frequently does make their own bitters.  Amor y Amargo, the East Village bar showcasing owner Avery Glasser’s “Very Small Batch” Bitterman’s line, was one of the first to kick-start the craze.  And appropriately enough, they’re setting the bar even higher by crafting their own, housemade Vermouth.  Instead of relying on mass-market bottles, they’ve created a rich and fruity vermouth, made with fortified Minervois wine… delicious enough to drink straight up.  In fact, it’s actually offered on tap, for $4 a glass.  Of course, it’s even better when incorporated into classic cocktails, like Martini’s, Gibson’s, and Negroni’s.

Vermouth is also experiencing a real renaissance at the Midtown restaurant, Rouge Tomate,  where wine and beverage Director, Pascaline Lepeltier, has collaborated on a brand new bottle of bitters with Bianca Miraglia, of the small batch Brooklyn company, Uncouth Vermouth.  Made with organic white wine and infused with citrus peel and other aromatics, this top shelf-worthy Vermouth should be ordered straight.

We can’t wait to see what else we’ll be drinking all the way through 2013!


  1. Excellent article Danyelle!!
    Give everyone else in the business a lot to think about.

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