January: For the best drink out, I am going to pick Backbar's Confederation Bridge which was their drink-of-the-week riff on the Prince Edward that was the combined work of a few of the bartenders. For the runner up position, the Blue Room's Nebbia di Garda; Matthew Schrage pairing of floral and herbal alpine amari that were softened by the citrus made for a wonderful libation; here, the modern flare of the amaro melded well with the classic feel of the cocktail's base.
February: Misty Kalkofen's Mistaken For Strangers at Brick & Mortar won with a grappa cocktail that had the feel of the Silent Order and Green Ghost. For a runner up, the simple elegance of Stoddard's Jack Frost crafted by Eric Cross gets the nod at fit perfectly with the season.
April: Despite now working at Russell House Tavern now, Vic Pelegrin created his A Man About Town and I tasted the drink before that career move; a great riff on a Boulevardier. For runners up, No. 9 Park's riff on the Fog Cutter, the Bleeding Fog Swizzle, by Ted Kilpatrick, and Belly Wine Bar's sherry-laden Daley Fix definitely deserve mention.
May: For the nod, I opted for Stoddard's Mai Tai variation called I'm On A Boat; the Pegu Club-like phantom grapefruit combination of lime, orange liqueur, and Angostura Bitters was bolstered by actual grapefruit juice. Myers & Chang's blackstrap rum, Cynar, lime, and Coca Cola Fizz, the Black Snake, and John Nugent's rye Maximilian Affair-like Home Wrecker at Silvertone were the runners up for May.
July: There certainly was a whole lot of sherry going around in July and all three picks contain one. Another tough decision, but Matt Whitney's Love in an Elevator had a delightfully rich complexity when it was served to me at Local 149. With a parallel style is Citizen Public House's Backyard Bitter; the other runner up is Katie Emmerson's Company Swizzle at the Hawthorne pictured below.
September: September was mezcal month. Katie Emmerson's Under the Volcano utilized it to an elegant equal parts style with sherry and amaro at the Hawthorne, and for a runner up, Ethan's 1940's era Zombie riff, the Oaxacan Dead at Deep Ellum was rather delicious.
October: I flagged more drinks of interest in October than any other month on the calendar especially with so many new programs visited. For a winner, I am picking Vik Hedge's Xocula at Sarma, a Negroni variation of sorts. For runners up, new comer Kirkland Tap & Trotter offered up the A Tale of Two Kitties via Tyler Wang; and relative old comer Backbar with a delightful nutty riff on the Bamboo, the Bamboozled, via Sam Treadway and Melinda Maddox.
December: Three drinks stood out for the month and I vacillated on which should get the tip of the hat. In the end, Mike Flemming's Hedy Lamarr with its fruity, floral, and herbal notes at West Bridge gets picked. For runners up, Deep Ellum's Penicillin-like Winter Cobbler and Lena Webb's 1919 sherry variation, the 1818 Cocktail, at Spoke Wine Bar definitely deserve mention.
So there are my 32 plus a wild card best drinks of 2013 that I had out spread out over 23 establishments across town. There were certainly ones that got edged out that I wish I could mention, but the scope of this post was kept tight. Although that is relatively tight for it is certainly a lot looser than picking a single drink or three for the year. Cheers!