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Drink the drink: where to taste what we're talking about.

1 / Startenders

LOS ANGELES Zahra Bates is a rising star in the world of culinary cocktails, creating celebrated drinks at two-Michelin-star restaurant Providence. The Pina y Pina, made with a pineapple reduction and a hint of smoky mezcal, is impossible to forget.

DENVER Ryan Conklin is both an inventive bartender and cicerone (beer expert) at Euclid Hall. He combines his interests when mixing spirits with beer in concoctions like his Beer Fashioned, a favorite among regulars.

PORTLAND Junior Ryan of Clyde Common is a master of elegance and simplicity, making perfectly balanced, straightforward drinks, like his impeccable old-fashioned.

2 / Culinary cocktailia

Las VEGAS The Peppered Leguas at Sage in the Aria Resort is made with roasted poblano, kiwi-infused blanco tequila, and just enough lime juice and agave nectar.

L.A. Chartreuse-soaked tomatoes for the Seriously Dangerous are roasted barside on a tiny brazier at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Library Bar.

SEATTLE Canon creates arty duskiness with their brandy old-fashioned, made with cognac infused with black truffle.

BOISE Roasted beets are the star of the vodka-based Coquette, a seasonal drink at the superb Modern Hotel and Bar.

3 / Haute ice

SAN FRANCISCO At Elixir, the $25 Jimmy Mac cocktail (built around an 18-year Macallan scotch) is accompanied by Glace Luxury ice, a single ice sphere--for slower melting--crafted from bubble-free, double-distilled water.

PORTLAND Laurelhurst Market's Smoke Signals cocktail (Tennessee whiskey, lemon juice, sherry, pecan syrup) is served with a large shard of smoked ice--made by melting ice in a smoker, then refreezing. This yields a coarse and layered smokiness that plays well with the whiskey.

BOULDER The Out with the Flame cocktail, made with flaming ice, was created to celebrate Oak at Fourteenth's reopening after a 2011 fire. A handcrafted ice sphere is first "tempered" with green Chartreuse, then set aflame. Yes, it's for show, but what a show! After being doused with aged rum, Chartreuse, Benedictine, and bitters, it's ready for sipping.

SEATTLE Custom chipping ice from a huge block isn't uncommon at craft cocktail bars nationwide, but Rob Roy takes their ice uncommonly seriously, with hand-chipped ice to fit your glass and whatever it is you're drinking.

4 / Neo tiki

SAN FRANCISCO There are more than 300 rums at Smuggler's Cove, as well as a rum club for serious fans.

DENVER At the city's newest tiki incarnation, Adrift updates classics with as many as nine ingredients. Plus, there are luaus on the back patio.

PORTLAND Keep an eye out for the fall opening of Hale Pele, a new bar from serious tiki geek Blair Reynolds.

5 / Terroirism

NEAR ROCHE HARBOR, WA San Juan Island Distillery makes a glorious Spy Hop Harvest Select Gin. It's distilled from Washington apples and flavored with botanicals like nettles, lavender, and thimbleberries foraged on the island.

NEWPORT, OR Rogue Spirits makes Rogue Spruce Gin, flavored with the Northwest's native spruce.

KELOWNA & VERNON, B.C. Okanagan Spirits makes a delightful Poire Williams eau de vie from two dozen perfectly ripe local Bartlett pears per bottle.

6 / Apothecaryism

VANCOUVER, B.C. Startender Danielle Tatarin is the sly wizard behind the Chinese apothecarythemed Keefer Bar in Chinatown. Herbs, barks, and fungi from local markets are infused into syrups and tinctures, making these cocktails good for what ails you.

7 / Mezcal

L.A. Las Perlas is like a wormhole with direct access to southern Mexico. Sample dozens of hard-to-find mezcals and tequilas (up to $48 per shot, but most much less), or get more creative with a cocktail like the Disco Mariachi, which melds Chartreuse, pineapple juice, and orgeat with mezcal.

8 / Digestivissimo

DENVER Leopold Brothers' unmistakable Fernet Leopold is a mintier, American version of Italian Fernet (an intensely potent--some say medicinal--bitter liqueur). It makes for a great after-dinner sip, or throws a curveball into a classic cocktail like the 19205 Hanky Panky.

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9 / Bars-in-bars

VANCOUVER, B.C. There are bars within bars all over the West--at the Varnish in L.A., the Hideout in San Francisco, Citizen R+D in Scottsdale, Arizona. But the shining example? The Diamond in Vancouver. Order a drink at the handsome public bar, then quietly inquire about the Elk Room--if the stars align, you'll discreetly be shown down a dark hallway, ushered into a compact room, and read the rules. (Rule #1: "There is no Elk Room.")

10/ Distillandia

PORTLAND Four distilleries within a few blocks of one another in Southeast Portland coordinate weekend hours and tout themselves as Distillery Row. Don't miss House Spirits Distillery for Aviation gin made with juniper, cardamom, lavender, sarsaparilla, and orange peel. You can visit individually or buy a $20 Distillery Row passport. Leave the car behind with a bike-powered pedicab tour with PDX Pedicab.
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Title Annotation:TOP 10
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Buyers guide
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2012
Words:779
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