Monday, January 2, 2017

:: fred's picks for the top cocktails of 2016 (in) ::

I will complete my seventh annual trilogy of year end wrap up posts by picking out the best recipes we tried at our home bar this year. Given my schedule of working nights, I find myself having the home bar as the only drinking option available, so I definitely have put a bit more focus on my closest and dearest bar with my posts. This list is dedicated to the best recipes created by bartenders, living, deceased, and unknown, from around the world all brought to me at my home bar (where luckily there is no last call).

January: There were two really good drinks that I made from Lost Lake in Chicago with their eponymous Lost Lake that came across like a Jungle Bird meets a Mary Pickford getting top nod for the month. Two soda water lightened drinks got my attention as well including the Vatican City from Mikki Kristola of L.A.'s The Varnish (that influenced by Italian Stallion) and Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars' West Indies Fizz.

February: I definitely enjoyed the brandy Diamondback riff, the Sidewinder, from Death & Co. Cocktail Book. Also of note were the Periodista-feeling Shipwreck Daiquiri from Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar and the elegant pineapple-tinged Martini, the Madame Lou, from Boothby's 1934 World Drinks & How to Mix Them (which helped to name my Queen of the Lava Beds for V-Day at work that month).
March: My pick for March was Zac Overman's Angostura Colada from Fort Defiance that took the classic into funky rum and winter spice land. Runners up were two drinks that I have should have tried long before, namely Milk & Honey's Bensonhurst Manhattan riff and Don the Beachcomber's Three Dots and a Dash.

April: I really enjoyed the Daiquiri variation given my ingredient choices and recipe interpretation of the Westward from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. The split spirit-based Harvest Moon by Daniel Eun via The PDT Cocktail Book and the ginger-spiced Daiquiri, the Snow White, were definitely good recipes in April.

May: A lot of good choices, but the fact that I made All Jacked Up by Jordan Brower of Mayahuel twice by accident should be symbolic. I was also impressed by Bravo Zulu as Vincent Toscano's Bacardi Legacy recipe and Phil Ward's Baltasar & Blimunda from the Death & Co. Cocktail Book. While not necessarily a recipe runner up, my garnish from Trader Vic's Tortuga is the photo below.
June: Another tough month, but I still remember enjoying Frank Caiafra's Frida from the updated Waldorf Astoria Bar Book a lot especially with the raspberry-Chartreuse combination. Garret Richard's Yacht Rock from NYC's Slowly Shirley and Giuseppe Gonzalez's quirky Magic Julep were also rather tasty.

July: Even with a week away from the home bar due to Tales of the Cocktail, there were still a bounty of choices. Not only did I love Nick Detrich's Absent Stars from Cane & Table at my home bar, but I also make it for certain guests at work. Also noteworthy were a Tiki duo -- one old and one new -- of Trader Vic's tequila Ponche and Lost Lake's Fog Cutter variation.

August: I am rather pleased with my purchase of the Smuggler's Cove book and the Martin Cate's Shudders in a Whisper is a good reason why. Davey Jones' Locker by Brad Farran as a Daiquiri tinged by Don's Mix and Fernet was rather good, as was the classic that I should have written about sooner, namely the Applejack Rabbit from 1928's Here's How Again.
September: It was hard ordering these three, but I'll give the honors to a Crusta, namely rye-Cynar-mint Pie-O-My by Brynn Smith of L.A.'s Sotto. Continuing on with the mint was a delightful Brazilian number from Charles H. Baker Jr.'s The South American Gentleman's Companion with the Bee's Knees-White Lady mashup, the Bahia Busy Bee. The final slot was a toss up between two beasts of flavor with the nod going to Rafa Garcia Febles' Young Marble Giants tribute, Colossal Youth (the other was the Shattered Glasser, by the way).

October: I was really impressed by the recipes I made in Lou Bustamante's Complete Cocktail Manual, and I selected the Shark God of Molokai by Andrew Dolinsky of Cleveland Heath in St. Louis as October's pick. A brandy Brooklyn-Creole mashup from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars called the Benediction was delightful as was the Luau from The PDT Cocktail Book.
November: Martin Cate's aquavit-driven Port of Göteborg was not one from his book but one published on Facebook, but it was worthy of mention. Secondly, the agave Midnight Bouquet from Meaghan Dorman of Manhattan's Raines and light but flavorful Pimm's-Tiki The Isle of Fawkes from Brian Maxwell of the Grass Skirt Tiki Room & the Side Bar both in a Columbus, Ohio, deserve note.

December: Somehow the combination of Scotch, raspberry, and lemon was magical in the Devery Crusta from Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. Also of note were Sother Teague's room temperature Black Rock Chiller from The Cocktail Chronicles that astounds me at how well it works, and the Sherry Cobbler from the Canon Cocktail Book (if you can source Paxtxaran that is).

I do want to tip the hat to Sasha Petrashe: Regarding Cocktails and Brad Parson's Amaro book that had great drinks that sadly got nudged on certain months.

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