Saturday, January 1, 2011

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2010 (out) ::

When I was asked what my favorite cocktail of 2010 was, I really did not have an answer. And after looking through the year's entries, I still do not have an answer. Therefore, I will make it easier on myself and break it down by month (month I wrote about it, not month it was quaffed). And to cop out even further, I will divide up it up into two posts with one having the best drink out at a bar or event and the other having the best drink at home sourced from an ancient tome, modern magazine, or even Twitter. Lastly, I should add that my choices were influenced by two factors -- tasty and unique -- in some odd formula; getting served a delicious drink that was like no other has to count for a lot.

January: For the best drink out, I selected Deep Ellum's San Francisco Nog; with San Francisco being the United States' Fernet Branca drinking capital, the rest of the drink concept's should mentally fall into line. The runner up was Audrey Saunders' Earl Grey MarTEAni served at Green Street; this drink was part of my mental preparations for hosting Mixology Monday: Tea later that month.

February: Without a doubt, Misty Kalkofen's Rumbustion Flip at Drink was the winner. Alas, that is my name for it as she came up with it on the fly. The combination of dry oatmeal stout, Old Monk Rum, and allspice dram smoothed over with egg made this drink a winner. A similarly delightful egg-beer-rum concoction was had later in the year at Eastern Standard where Kevin Martin served me the Chocolate Flip.

March: Yes, another egg drink -- No. 9 Park's Orinoco. What won me over was the pairing of espresso and a copious amount Angostura Bitters. As a runner up, I chose Ryan Lotz of Lineage's equally bitter-heavy Fritz aptly named after an abstract expressionist artist.

April: Skipping over from egg drinks but sticking with bitter heavy ones, I chose Don's Little Bitter created by Don Lee and served by Sam Treadway at Drink. This digestif taken to another level later influenced me in creating the Orange Scaffa. Honorable mentions go to the theatrics of Ted Gallager's tiki drink at Craigie on Main and to the best named drink of the year, Emma Hollander's One Armed French Hooker.

May: Returning to egg drinks for a moment, I picked LeNell Smothers' Good Humor made by Derric Crothers at Green Street; for such a simple drink -- essentially an Aperol egg nog -- it made for a delightful dessert cocktail! Runner up or perhaps tied was Aaron Butler's Scottish Play at Russell House Tavern; the combination of intense Scotch and funky Cynar was delicious. I was later reminded of this when Scott Holliday served me his Cynar-laden Rum Scaffa at Rendezvous in November.

June: My pick was Ben Sandrof's Silent Order. Green Chartreuse paired with muddled basil and lime juice and softened with water, it was like a Green Ghost crossed with a Chartreuse Swizzle.

July: With Tales of the Cocktail, there was a lot of competition; however, a simple and surprisingly delicious drink won out -- Tim Stone's Lapsang Martinez at the Beefeater event. The combination of smoke, grape, and gin was good enough to repeat later that evening instead of opting for something new. For a runner up, Ben Sandrof's Mai Tai variation named after a lizard with two penuses, the Cuban Anole (Ben did not know about the anatomy fact when he created the drink, but was quite amused when he learned about it).

August: As an early harbinger of Autumn, the Honeymoon Cocktail at Lineage as they worked their way through Ted Haigh's book was a winner. Honorable mention goes to Todd Maul's bittered High Hat, the Simon, at Clio, and the Jimmy Lane Swizzle at Eastern Standard.

September: Scrawled on the border of my notes was that September was the toughest month to pick a winner. There was the old school elegance of Harry Johnson's Brandy Fix executed by Ted Kilpatrick at No. 9 Park, and the new school herbal stylings of April Watchel's Elisabeth Aplegate at The Gallows which paired cucumber, anise, and hyssop flavors. Similarly, in parallel fashion, there were Scott Holliday's reworked classic, the Rabbit Stick (based on the Boomerang) at Rendezvous and Carrie Cole's herbal and cucumber sparkling number, Fin du Saison at Craigie on Main. Since I did not give props to the Cure's Sherry Cobbler "garnish[ed] with berries of the season" that I had during Tales, I will have to give the nod to the classic Brandy Fix (it is as good an excuse as any, I guess).

October: October did have a lot of amazing drinks as well, but Bobby McCoy's Spanish Caravan at Island Creek Oyster Bar stands out. The combination of apple brandy, tequila, sherry, and dram coupled with the apple chip garnish was pretty spectacular. Ted Gallagher's introducing me to Pineau des Charentes in the Marksman at Craigie on Main and Kai Gagnon's choice of late season naturally fermented honey in Bergamot's Honey Bearer were tasty learning experiences!

November: With colder weather comes the return of the egg drinks. I had to call it a tie between John Mayer's berryful Pride of the Neighborhood at Craigie on Main and Ted Kilpatrick's vanilla and caramel Bulls Eye Flip at No. 9 Park. Honorable mention for a non-egg drink goes to California Gold's Union Station Swizzle at Drink.

December: Another toughly contested egg-off. Ben Sandrof's Pu-erh Flip used a fermented green tea that donated incredible funkiness and maltiness to the drink versus No. 9 Park's Ted Kilpatrick's re-working of the classic Morning Glory Fizz using a Belgian beer as the sparkling agent. While Ted's drink would be perfect today after last night's New Year's celebration, the introduction to the amazing flavor of the Pu-erh tea is hard to beat.

1 comment:

Noah said...

These year end posts are a great idea. I can never shake the nagging feeling that I've forgotten about a post I really wanted to try. Now I've got a checklist for some of the year's best. Thanks, and happy new year!