The flood of seasonal menus is trickling in, as the promise of warming weather finally starts to bear fruit.
In Los Angeles, that means a range of new drinks at 1886. “We set out to create a list that had drinks you definitely want to order over and over again — drinks that are light and refreshing, but also really make our guests think of spring,” says head barman Garrett McKechnie. "The cocktails on our new spring list are all 1886 bar creations, and staff get credited with their work."
The seasonal menu, created with the aid of consultant Marcos Tello, includes a “Regional” section, with the MacArthur Park Swizzle (XO and agricole rum, fresh lime juice, a “secret” Tiki mix, Allspice Dram and nutmeg) and Water of Life (Aquavit, housemade chamomile syrup, Nolet’s Gin, tonic and a fresh sprig of chamomile).
In the “Shaken” section, reside Lacey Murillo’s Cinablossom (gin, lemon, homemade cinnamon-bark syrup and toasted cinnamon) Brady Weise’s Wild Orchid (Torontel pisco, Vergano Bianco Vermouth, Grand Marnier and hefeweissen beer) and Tello’s Bittersweet Farewell (London Dry Gin, housemade passion fruit syrup, fresh lemon juice and Campari).
1886's creative bar menu features the Wild Orchid.
Many bars offer cocktail variants at one time — the 1886 menu raises the bar on that concept with the Vintage Caprice Flight, featuring three vintages of their Beefeater Gin Barrel-Aged Caprice — (Beefeater, dry vermouth, Benedictine and orange bitters).
Pastry Chef Jeff Haines collaborated on three drinks on this new menu, the most ambitious being the co-creation of a bottled cocktail, the “Seasonal” Rum Whistle, with Greg Gertmenian. The drink combines green apple-celery soda base, aged white rum and fresh lime juice that is then carbonated and bottled. Guests ordering the cocktail are served the bottle.
The bottled cocktail concept is the latest (and frankly better) version of barrel aging that also accommodates the shared service idea. Interurban in Portland has two rotating cocktails on the menu that come by the large-format bottle. In San Francisco, Jasper's spring cocktail program includes not only a second cocktail served from a draft system (the Hanky Panky, made with gin, Fernet and sweet vermouth), but also house-bottled, carbonated Pimm's Cups. At New York City’s recently opened The Daily, a recent bottle offering was a Vesper Martini (gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc) for two.
Like other drinks at The Daily, the bottled cocktails change frequently (if not actually daily). Naren Young oversees the program and posts the day’s drinks on the bar's website. Recent selections include the Long Drink of the Day, a Singapore Sling; the Shaken Drink of the Day, a Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (Rum, Combier, falernum and lime); the Stirred Drink of the Day, a Tipperary (Irish whiskey, Chartreuse and vermouth); the Rocks Drink of the Day, a Smoky Old Fashioned (rye, mezcal and chocolate bitters); and the Short Drink of the Day, Tommy’s Margarita.
Since its opening has been so heralded, it would be amiss not to mention New York City's NoMad, headed up by Leo Robitschek. He’s crafted a high-end version of bottle service in which customers make their own cocktails from a well-stocked cocktail cart. Seems akin to grilling your own meat at a steak joint to me, but bottle service does have its fans. Now those fans can get bottles of premade cocktails at more and more places as well.