Cocktail culture has been shaking up and gaining traction in bars and members-only clubs worldwide. Inspired by the traditional pastime of simply enjoying one’s beverage, today’s creative cocktailing boasts a modern twist with deconstructed recipes, vintage pours and unlikely ingredients. Interested parties can discover new drinks at anti-establishment-inspired venues outfitted in an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1930s’ Prohibition speakeasy. Here, we’ve assembled a list of the most imaginative libations and the chill cocktail caves where you’ll find them.
Green Swizzle, Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, New York
New to pop-up in the Big Apple is Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, a product of Belfast import Sean Muldoon. Muldoon is dedicated to bringing back tasty tipples of yore. A tour of the bar, housed in a 1820’s townhouse in Manhattan’s Financial District, takes you back to new-immigrant New York on the ground floor. Patrons can also enjoy more than 72 impressive cocktails spanning three centuries in the upstairs parlor. One to try: a Green Swizzle, inspired by its 1903 variation, that includes wormwood-infused Martinique Rhum JM, Marie Brizard Anisette, fresh lime juice, almond syrup, bay leaf tincture, and wild lime soda.
Cucumber-Encapsulated Gin and Tonic, The Aviary, Chicago
Chicago is getting on the bibulous bandwagon at The Aviary. This urban-chic cocktail chemistry lab makes futuristic pours using molecular mixology. Here, bartenders are like liquid chefs, and taste is paramount. Opt for the extremely limited gin and tonic made with junipero, yellow chartreuse, simple syrup and salted cucumber alginate encapsulated. The process takes so long that these are hard to get your hands on, but it’s definitely worth the wait.
Solid Sex on the Beach, Lab Club, Sao Paolo
The sophisticated set of movers and shakers aren’t the only circle experiencing creative cocktails. In Sao Paolo, Brazil, Lab Club dishes out their version of a solid Sex on the Beach to club-goers in a retired warehouse space. Served on a soupspoon, slurp up this soft concoction of a vodka yolk, peach liqueur, orange and peach juices, and pomegranate syrup balls.
Shungyo, Tender Bar, Tokyo
In Tokyo, it’s all about service at what the Japanese refer to as ‘American-inspired bars,’ however, the North American influence only extends to the bars’ concepts. Beyond that—as in bartending technique, menus, ingredient innovation—Japan has set the tone for trend-setting tipples. The origins of mixology in this area took hold on the outskirts of Ginza more than 100 years ago, and today, famed mixologist Kazuo Uyeda serves up his artful creations at Tender Bar. Try the Shungyo (sake, vodka, green tea liqueur, salted cherry blossom), a popular pick invented in the early 1980s and still renowned.
Delicious Sour, Nightjar, London
When one thinks of suspendered bartenders and herb-infused spirits, London’s local watering holes immediately come to mind. Nightjar is one such locale, offering traditionally historic mixes but with a flirty flair. The well-curated menu features pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, post-war and signature options that are just as intricately beautiful to stare at, as they are tasty. The top contender? The Delicious Sour, with Hennessy Fine de Cognac, Nightjar Umeshu, crab apple infusion, lime, bee pollen syrup, oolong foam, and a caramel-coated crab-apple garnish.
With these and many more crafty concoctions available in every corner of the world, it’ll be hard to imagine ever ordering just a beer or a simple vodka tonic again. Step outside your comfort zone the next time you’re out at a trendy local bar or club and ask your bartender what types of unique or specialty drinks they make – while many aren’t listed on menus, you’ll be surprised by the scrumptious surprises that many servers have in store for adventurous consumers.