January: For the best drink out, I will go with Barrel House in Beverly's Cooper; the combination of Pineau de Charentes and Averna made for an excellent complement to rye in this Manhattan variant. For runner up, the nod goes to another Pineau de Charentes drink, the Pinky Ring from Kirkland Tap & Trotter. While it was described as reminiscent of a Chrysanthemum, it looks more like a Pineau de Charentes-based Puritan.
February: My nod for February goes to a simple but elegant number with a strange name of numbers, the 11+2/12+1 at the Citizen Public House. Two ingredients that balance each other so well plus bitters and a twist; the post explains the bizarre name. For runners up, I was torn between the subtleties of the Hawthorne's Cardo Bendito's lightly herbal tequila Manhattan of sorts and Estragon's sherry Tiki, the Fangataufa.
April: I narrowed the month down to three contenders, and I selected the Laughing Boy at Deep Ellum; Fernet and Meletti pair well together here and are softened over time with salt done Little Giuseppe style. For runners up, I chose a pair of Swedish Punsch drinks. Merrill & Co.'s Battle Over Dutch worked the punsch between sherry and cacao notes, and Russell House Tavern's Poppin' Tags worked the punsch into a Negroni-Americano hybrid of sorts.
May: My pick for May was also Tales of the Cocktail's pick for the year, Backbar's Hurricane Caesar; the drink prospered from the Campari-passion fruit pairing that integrated over time via a Campari float. The choice for runner up was tougher with Kirkland Tap & Trotter bringing a Tiki-Rum Corpse Reviver #2 mashup called the Tidbit.
July: Instead of choosing a winner, I'll give co-top honors to Sarma's riff on the Prizefighter called the Pugilist (pictured below) that successfully beats down Fernet Branca into an unsurly ingredient and to Estragon's complex and floral Hurricane-like Tempest.
September: Torn between two for top pick. Estragon's Zaragoza paired Campari-cacao flavors that were de-bittered by a pinch of salt and Barrel House of Beverly's Manhattan variation the Killing Floor that vaguely reminded me of a Brooklyn minus the Maraschino. For runner up, another Negroni-Americano hybrid of sorts caught my taste buds, No. 9's Torino Retiree in a crushable summertime delivery.
October: My nod for October goes to a crafty room temperature cocktail at Backbar dubbed the Missing Link. As a second place for the month, I'm picking a Tiki drink that reminded me of a Mr. Bali Hai and a Pago Pago fused into one, Citizen Public House's Jungle Madness.
December: Top honors for December go to the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II with another drink that pairs passion fruit and Campari except here accented by yuzu in the Forbidden Fruit. The two runners up fall to the Independent's Rainy Dayz and West Bridge's Sinnerman.
So there are my 29 best drinks of 2014 that I had out spread out over 21 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 not as tight as a top 12 would have been). I am looking forward to what 2015's list will bring. Cheers!