Tuesday, January 1, 2013

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2012 (out) ::

In December 2010, someone asked me what was my favorite cocktail of the year, and I was a little lost for words for there were so many. Therefore, I decided to sort it out by dividing the list down by month and also by whether I had them out at a bar or in at home. My choices were influenced by two factors -- tastiness and uniqueness; it had to be both memorable and worth repeating. The drinks were organized by when they were written about and not when they were had. Since this list was very popular the past two years, here is the third installment. Without further ado, here is the monthly breakdown for drinks I had out on the town for 2012. And for some reason, it is a lot less egg-laden than last year's list.

January: For the best drink out, I chose the Wilhelm Scream at Craigie on Main; the complexity of spirit, the herbal notes, and the vast cinematic history of the drink name as a talking point made for a memorable and delicious experience. For runners up, I picked Brick & Mortar's Streets of Gettysburg crafted in quintessential Misty Kalkofen style and Bergamot's A Few of My Favorite Things -- luckily, Paul Manzelli's list overlaps with mine.

February: With Green Chartreuse, Batavia Arrack, pineapple, and other ingredients organized into an old school style, No. 9 Park's Swamp Water Fix gets the nod for February. The fact that the genesis of the drink traces back to something a guest had at the Rathskeller just adds icing on the cake. The runners up were Eastern Standard's Scotch El Presidente riff, the Coup d'État, and Backbar's herbal and floral number, the Oregon Trail (yes, named after the video game and from where its gin component was made).
March: Oaxaca Moon, Bergamot's elegant reworking of Craigie's infamous Northern Lights, was a delightful pick; perhaps it was the Pineau des Charentes that made it especially unique. For runners up, Stoddard's Scotch-based Tiki drink, the Angry Barista, and Clio's nutty Daiquiri variation, Joe Bans You, bring March in like a Lion's Tail and out like a Lamb's Club.

April: Winner for April was also the cover for Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book -- Backbar's Last Word variation called the Back Word. A strong runner up was Rob Kraemer from Chez Henri's Down at the Dinghy which seemed like a cross between an Irma la Douce and a Lamplighter. Also a runner up was Estragon's bitter and nutty aperitif, the Four Moors, which achieved harmony in only 3 ingredients.

May: The drink I picked for May was Lasky Last Night -- Todd Maul's update of a Embury drink at Clio that maintains the classic feel. Also of note were the Citizen's Last Date and Eastern Standard's Nouvelle Fleur.
June: June was a challenge to narrow it down, but Hawthorne's tropical tribute to Chartreuse, the St. Bruno's Swizzle, was a stunner. For runners up, Temple Bar's Snake in the Grass and J.M. Curley's hybrid of a Toronoto and Milano-Torino (Americano), the Torontino, get the honors.

July: July was a great month for cocktail riffs. Drink's variation of the 20th Century using tequila and Saler's called the Copper Cannon was a great showcase for the gentian liqueur. For runners up, I couldn't cut this list down to by one, so here are three: Trina's Starlite Lounge's watermelon Corpse Reviver #33, Island Creek Oyster Bar's Paper Schooner, and Backbar's Start of a New Road.
August: The elegance of Stoddard's the Blood of My Enemies was noteworthy. For runners up, Brick & Mortar's Darkness til Dawn with its Fernet and Cherry Heering pairing and No. 9 Park's room temperature falernum and sherry-laden Tequila Scaffa got my attention.

September: September's choice was one that was recommended that I check out -- the Cara-Me-Away from the Regal Beagal which surprised me with its classic feel. For runners up, I chose Sichuan Garden II's follow-up to the Peychaud's-heavy Gunshop Fizz, the Antoine's Demise, and Rendezvous' Scotch and herbal Gloamin Dwines.
October: I was impressed by No. 9 Park's Modern Cocktail-like Burning Ice with Swedish Punsch and Pedro Ximenez sherry adding beautiful notes to the mix. Backbar's melange, the Aftermath, and Estragon's homage to their neighborhood, the South End Sling, were noteworthy for the month of October.

November: For November, I selected a great Little Italy-like drink that included extra flavors from Bonal called the Bicycle Thief from the Blue Room. Nana's Rocker with its herbal apple and grape from Russell House Tavern and Trina's Starlite Lounge's Slurred Word as a loose Last Word variation with Smith & Cross deserve mention. Note: A good part of November was spent talking about drinks from Portland Cocktail Week and that deserves its own category at the end!

December: I was torn over who to give December's top spot to since they were very different drinks; Russell House Tavern's hot Sazerac Toddy and Trina's Starlite Lounge's carroty Bugs Bunny tribute, the Left Turn at Alburqueurque were quite tasty. For a single runner up, Scholar's Señor Elmo's Fire reminded me of something Phil Ward might concoct!
Portland, Oregon: Over the eight days we were there, I wrote about 10 different places we had drinks. The best drink has to go to the White Buddha from Lúc Lác; this tequila-Chartreuse-cucumber Ramos-style drink was spoken about by others as well that week. For runners up, it was a tough call but Teardrop's A New Hope and Kask's Prospector seem like solid picks.

Yes, that is forty drinks, which out does last year's 37, and should give Camper English an even better chuckle this year about how well I can narrow things down.

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