Between pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, and any shot we took in college, it’s more than likely we’ve experienced a sweet drink or two in our lifetime (whether or not we enjoyed it is another story). Lately bartenders have been easing up on the sugar in lieu of different kinds of palette-pleasing flavors — the savory ones. From tomatoes and sage to basil and balsamic, here are four ways bar talent is shaking up the kitchen’s not-so-sweet side.
THE CAT’S EYE at ATWOOD KITCHEN & BAR ROOM
Inspired to bridge savory winter flavors and bright spring colors, bartender Caleb Mayes called upon two fragrant ingredients with warm flavor nuances: cinnamon and sage. He shakes the aromatic leaves with mezcal, cinnamon syrup, grapefruit juice, and Angostura before straining the dram into a rocks glass over a large cube of ice.
THE PICNIC WITH THE KENNEDYS at THE LATE LATE
To ensure his creation would be anything but your average raspberry iced tea, bartender Seth Allen shakes muddled raspberries, Avion Silver, smoked tea, and lime juice together before double straining into a rocks glass, which he then garnishes with balsamic reduction and salt and pepper. As for the inspiration? "The smoked tea and balsamic drizzle are the perfect balance to the fresh, sweet raspberries,” says Allen. “As soon as you lift the glass to take a sip, that pinch of salt and pepper give you a preview of the savory flavors you're about to sip."
THE SERGEANT BELL PEPPER at VANDAL
Botanicals and spice collide in this concoction from bartender Carlos Abeyta. After making bell pepper juice from bell peppers and firebird chili, he adds it to an ounce and a half of Botanist gin, lemon juice, and black pepper tincture. If you can handle some heat, this is the drink for you: Abeyta tops it all off with Thai chili oil, making the drink a visual stunner, to boot.
THE SPRING AWAKENING at THE DIAMOND HORSESHOE
Move over, bloody mary — bartender Jason Kaciupski is tackling the tomato in a different kind of way. He brings together vodka, lemon juice, basil leaves and grape tomatoes, which he then tops off with sparkling water and serves in a highball.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: Cat's Eye at Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room by Shaun Pazel; Picnic WIth The Kennedys by Jeremy Sailing at The Late Late; Sergeant Bell Pepper at Vandal