Four Venues Stirring up New Menus

This week in our Asked & Answered post, we check in with Charles Joly, now beverage director at Chicago’s Aviary, but that’s not the only bird sanctuary where cocktails are interesting. The Portland spot of the same name has a current drink menu that can certainly stand on its own against any of the culinary minded when it comes to unusual ingredients. Like what? Well, bar manager Ross Hunsinger offers drinks made with squid ink and roasted black sesame paste (Broadway & Myrtle), tomato leaf-infused gin and Japanese pickles (Barely Mary), and brown butter-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon (Apres Moi), for starters. You can catch the recipes for the Broadway & Myrtle here. And squid ink or not, it looks quite tasty.

In Pittsburgh by Salt of the Earth executive chef and Pittsburgh magazine’s “Chef of the Year 2011” Kevin Sousa has opened Harvard & Highland and with mixologist Summer Voelker, has developed a range of new recipes. Some highlights of the Harvard & Highland menu include Tranquil Trail of Calvados (Oloroso sherry, burnt rosemary and absinthe), the Oaxacan Traveler (Del Maguey Vida, coconut, house falernum, Jamaican rum and nutmeg) as well as an Alternatives section for lovers of simple, straightforward drinks that have an emphasis on the restaurants rock and rye selection, whiskey flights and punches. The plan going forward is for Harvard & Highland to offer a list developed by a quarterly visiting mixologists as well as reviving cocktailing staples.

And who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks? One of the oldest bars in the Los Angeles area, Townhouse (operating since 1915) rejuvenated their menu recently, using granache wine syrup (in the Grapes of Wrath with vodka, muddled grapes and lemon), figs (in the Notorious F.I.G. a fizz made with Scotch, absinthe, basil, lemon, egg white and soda), and dates (in the Sinful Harvest, with Genever gin, grapefruit, lemon and cinnamon served as a Collins drink).

Menu structure is always important – at NYC’s new Pouring Ribbons, headed up by Toby Maloney and friends at Alchemy Consulting, cocktails are judged on two scales: refreshing to spirituous, comforting to adventurous. Death & Taxes (Dorothy Parker Gin, lemon, Clear Creek Blue Plum brandy, lavender-infused Cinzano bianco and grapefruit bitters) is deemed slightly more refreshing yet also slightly more adventurous. Meanwhile, Hagar & Helga maxes out on the spiritupus and adventurous scales, made with Linie Aquavit, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, cumin syrup and cinnamon bitters.


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