Last night, when the insomnia set in, I found myself trying to read any and all news articles on-line. (I was hoping I would bore myself to sleep!) Instead, I came across an article of great interest to me. This article was about the latest trend in cocktails.
Being a bit of a “booze nerd” (is that an oxymoron?), I couldn’t help but get sucked right in. This new trend happens to be about “smoked cocktails”. If you checked out my Drink of the Month for April, Smokey Waters, you know why this trend intrigues me.
Gin meets Smoked Paprika
When it comes to cocktail menus, I believe they should reflect the flavor of the restaurant and its patrons. Bartenders are the “liquid chefs” of the restaurant. The advantage we have over our kitchen counterparts – we directly interact with the guests. We can get opinions, requests, feedback and actually sample concoctions regularly. Getting the guest involved in the creative process is not only fun, it is a valuable tool.
Personally, I like to create cocktails that push the envelope, daring you into trying something out of your comfort zone. This past winter, I added a drink dubbed When Pigs Fly to the Horseshoe Grille menu. Maple infused bourbon, dark crème de cocoa surrounded by a chocolate rim dipped in crunchy bacon was a surprise for the palate.
Ingredients should be fresh, flavorful and unique. People are paying greater attention to what they put in their bodies. Restaurants are responding by creating gluten-free menus, low-cal menu options, etc. Drink menus are following suit.
Fresh fruits, spices and herbs have made their way out of the kitchen and once again, back on the bar. The one downfall, these ingredients drive up price. Especially with the recent drought and poor grow season driving produce prices through the roof! Take the lime crisis as an example. Right now, limes have become so scarce and expensive ($1 a piece) they are like green-gold.
So, as summer slowly approaches, I look forward to using smoked salts, sugars and spices along with charred fruits and aromatic herbs behind the bar at the Horseshoe Grille.
What do you look for in a cocktail?