January: For best drink out, I selected Ames St. Deli's Zig Zag Wanderer that they named in honor of the anniversary of Captain Beefheart's passing; the combination of mezcal, herbal liqueurs, and chocolate was rather elegant. For runners up, Sichuan Garden II's addition to the sherry Tiki theme, the Sherry Colada, was so good that we ordered it again a few months later. Also notable was Backbar's reworking of the Trinidad Sour into the Trinidad & Toboggan.
February: A close call here with this trio, but I will give the nod to West Bridge and their tribute to Seattle's coffee capital Lake Union. Of note were Russell House Tavern's Eye of the Storm that reminded me of a Suffering Bastard with a hint of Mr. Bali Hai and Citizen Public House with its delightful mezcal and sherry sipper Smoke and Mirrors.
April: Sichuan Garden II made a point early that banana liqueur could be used in a classy way, and their Father's Advice partnered it with bitter elements and sherry. For runners up, Backbar's room temperature Derby Scaffa and Audubon's rum riff on the Lawhill, the Law Harbor, deserve recognition.
May: Another strong month for Sichuan Garden II where the Absinthe Buck tamed the anise-driven cordial with almond and spice. Also intriguing was the Independent's Kapuna Kane that worked a large amount of gentian liqueur into a drink did not feel overwhelmed by it.
July: For July and August, I will segregate out the New Orleans and Tales of the Cocktail drinks and deal with the local talent here. Just north of the city, I was intrigued by Barrel House's Jersey Isle Julep, and for a silver showing, Spoke with their A Bird Named Rufus.
New Orleans & Tales of the Cocktail: With 16 recipes written up from the event and around the city, I felt that it needed its own category. I was definitely impressed with Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29 and found myself there quite often (the only bar that matched it was the 24 hour craft beer bar near my hotel, the Avenue Pub); I was advised to start with their take on the classic Pearl Diver called the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver and that recommendation was strong. Pouring Ribbons' Sing for Your Supper was probably the best drink at the Bartenders Breakfast, and for over the top elegance, the Meyer's Cobbler at Compère Lapin stood out.
September: Things did not get any easier in September to make a choice, and it was hard enough to narrow it down to three. So here they are without any designation. Hawthorne's Boulevardier in the Heather as the beginning of the banana Negroni phase for me. Estragon's Tropicalia with cachaça, spices, and tropical flavors. And Hojoko's Budokon as an overproof rum-madeira Sazerac of sorts.
October: It was tough to pick a best drink at No. 9 Park this month with a strong showing on their new menu; perhaps their Declaration with Madeira edged out the Sherry Painkiller and the I'wi Bird. A duo of gentian liqueur cocktails deserve the nod: Monument Park at State Park and the Barnyard Punch at Highball Lounge.
December: Just opened this month, Tiger Mama impressed me with their rum Manhattan of sorts, the Long Eclipse. A downtown duo of the amusingly named High Five, So Am I with its tequila, Cynar, and honey action at JM Curley and the Bela Vista with rye, banana, and Ramazzotti and No. 9 Park round out the month.
So there are my 34 best drinks in Boston for 2015 a trio from Tales of the Cocktail and New Orleans thrown in. From the local talent, those drinks stem from 25 different establishments across town (and some just outside of town). I also left out any drinks that I had a hand in at Russell House Tavern and Loyal Nine. And as I said last year, 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 2016's list will bring. Cheers!