Sunday, January 1, 2012

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2011 (out) ::

At the end of 2010, I was asked what my favorite cocktail of the year was, and I did not have one answer. To make it easier, I divided the process into the drinks I had out and drinks I had in, and then broke it down to an easier to swallow month-by-month process. Again, I grouped it by when I wrote up the libation, not when I actually had it. Lastly, my choices were influenced by two factors -- tastiness and uniqueness -- in some odd formula; getting served a delicious drink that was like no other has to count for a lot. For a tie breaker, I also considered which I would want more to have again. This year, I am repeating the process for it was rather popular last year. Without further ado, here is the monthly breakdown for drinks I had out on the town (in Boston and elsewhere) for 2011.
January: For the best drink out, I selected Eastern Standard's Rapa Nui which was one of the best Tiki drinks I had this year; with blood orange, good rums, and a sherry float, it definitely appealed to me. Runners up were Rendezvous' Tequila Scaffa which elegantly balanced an aged tequila with Maurin Quinquina, and Island Creek's elegant Ransom Old Tom drink, the Snap Point.

February: This month was tough since there were a lot of strong drinks but I would have to choose Drink's Dead Man's Mule with its intense but balanced spiced flavors. A strong tip of the hat to Bergamot's Scotch Little Italy-like Smoking Jacket, Drink's mezcal-Angostura bomb, the Johan Goes to Mexico, and Lineage's Corpse Reviver #2 riff, the Dover

March: Trina's Starlite Lounge's beer-floated Last Word variation, Word to Your Mom not only caught my attention but the write up caught Camper English's eye in FineCooking. Runner up would be Citizen-Worcester's classically formulated but modernly named Groovy Child.

April: With Fernet, Cynar, egg, and beer, the Battle Royal Fizz at Ben Sandrof's Sunday Salon still stands out in my mind. Runners up include Lineage's Silent Order-like Monk's Thistle and Clio's complex seasonal Spring in the Afternoon.

May: This month was another challenging one but I made the decision over which of them I would want to have again, and I gave the nod to Craigie on Main's sherry and Zucca Throw the Gun #2. Of merit were Eastern Standard's chocolate-Campari Carletti, No. 9 Park's extreme Pimm's Cup, the Park Street Cup, and Citizen-Boston's Fernet Painkiller-like Beach Cruiser.

June: There were three strong contenders for June; therefore, I am giving a split best drink to Estragon's Starbird with apple, beer, and absinthe notes, and Whistler-Chicago's delightfully herbal Green Jacket. The strong runner up was Lineage's Final Voyage -- a Last Word variation with hints of Periodista in the mix.
July: The Cure-NOLA's Drink of Laughter and Forgetting with its ebb and flow of bitter and herbal was the top pick in this busy month of Tales of the Cocktail and other more local libation. For a runner up, I had a hard time choosing between two at Russell House Tavern: their single malt-green tea-apricot Kobatashi Maru and their Scotch-Damson gin-beer Sun Rays Illuminate Smoke Filled Haze.

August: With many of the Tales of the Cocktail posts bleeding into August, Teardrop-Seattle's Thai Chi-Chi that I tried at the Bar Room Brawl was an exquisite Piña Colada variation (even if it was made with the sponsor's vodka instead of rum). For runners up, there was Estragon's Pisco Sour variation, the 1836-1839 and Trina's Starlite Lounge's Beer Sangria.

September: This was another tricky month, but for a winner, I will split my vote between Clio's malt and bitter fruit Sands of Time and Vandaag-NYC's aquavit Tiki drink, the Balsa Raft. Runners up were No. 9 Park's agave-based Morning Glory, the Zimmermann Telegram, and Estragon's coconut and curry-filled Coromandel Coast.

October: Craigie on Main's water melon shrub-containing Merchant's Wife gets her hand raised. Deep Ellum's tribute to Philidelphia daredevils acquires the runner up with the room temperature Franklin Mortgage Co..

November: I was torn between two Flips and decided to give the vote to both. Trina's Starlite Lounge's pumpkiny take on the classic Boston Flip, Mr. Monohan's Flip, and Green Street's egg version of their hot Punch, the Skipper's Flip. Runner up goes to the pisco, sherry, and amaro-based Juan Bautista at Craigie on Main.

December: Two bitter ones caught my eye with Brick & Mortar's unique non-diluted grappa-based A Bullet for Fredo and Craigie on Main's aged tequila, Cynar, and St. Germain Libretto. For runner up, there were two agave drinks that reminded me a lot of the other for both contained grape and juiceless citrus notes: the Independent's This, That, the Other and Deep Ellum's Wayback.

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