This Miami restaurant and bar pays homage to classic Southern cooking and culture with a twist. Take the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade: This cocktail features Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh-pressed lemon juice, blackberry purée, and cardamom. Used prominently in Indian cooking and mixed with coffee in the Middle East, here, cardamom imparts a rich, almost citrusy flavor.
With a heady mixture of Thai chile syrup, lemongrass syrup, and pink peppercorns, this dramatic drink topped with smoking, liquid nitrogen-charged raspberries is a hot choice at the swanky Chandelier Bar in Las Vegas' hottest new hotel, The Cosmopolitan.
If you think curry only goes with chicken, think again. Mixologist Mariena Mercer of the Chandelier Bar in Las Vegas made an Indian spice-rich sip called the Madame Curry. The warming drink features a mix of Gran Centenario Reposado, mango purée, yuzu sour, and a curry spice blend containing curry powder, Chinese five-spice, and cayenne pepper.
"Featuring clove-infused tequila, this cocktail reminds us of the holidays but with somewhat untraditional ingredients," says Jessica Bray, bartender at the Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore. "It literally smells like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Using the Herradura Añejo was key because of the vanilla, bubble gum-type aroma it already has, and the clove was a perfect match for it. Using the cinnamon sugar and agave nectar sweetens it up just enough to take the edge off," says Bray.
The Eastern Raspberry Sidecar offers a taste of the Far East with a blend of cognac, raspberries, lemon, and five-spice sugar. The five-spice blend is a mix of star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, cloves, and Sichuan peppers mixed with superfine sugar to balance the beverage. Matt Erickson, vice president of restaurant operations, says, "We used the five-spice blend because it is complex enough to stand up against the bold flavors of the drink. Hennessey, unfiltered sak, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and crushed raspberries are all powerful flavors so we looked for ingredients that would balance the flavor profile and add a bit of silkiness."
Black pepper — that ubiquitous spice that tops nearly every dish and even spawned a Saturday Night Live skit — imparts warmth and depth to nearly everything it seasons, including cocktails. Served at the upscale Gibraltar, located in the Grove Isle Hotel and Spa (on a private Coconut Grove island), this pink port-based beverage is accented with apricot nectar and gets an extra bite from finely ground black pepper.
Made at Manhattan's swanky Monkey Bar, Bryan Schneider's mole-accented rum drink gets its savory, spicy profile from Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, an original combination of cacao, cinnamon, and spice inspired by the spice-rich mole sauces of Mexico. "I'm usually not one for lengthy cocktail explanations, but I'm going to give you my spiel here because I think it makes a good background story," says Schneider. "The drink is a play on the classic Martinez cocktail, which calls for gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters. I'm subbing out the gin for Brugal 1888 rum, using a great quality sweet vermouth, the maraschino is being replaced by Pedro Ximenez sherry, and I'm finishing with a dash of mole bitters as well as one of angostura. The cocktail is also an homage to the former Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez, who is from the Dominican Republic, so Brugal being a Dominican rum makes it that much more appropriate!"
This take on the classic bloody mary gets an interesting twist — a Oaxacan dried grasshopper and sea salt rim. The drink also features many of the same ingredients that can be used to make an authentic Mexican mole like chile de árbol, lime juice, onion, hot sauce, and sangrita.
Launched in 1941, Mekhong is Thailand's first domestically produced spirit. Made from a mysterious mix of secret-recipe Thai herbs and spices, this golden spirit is commonly known as a whiskey, but would be more accurately described as a rum (made from 95 percent sugar cane/molasses and 5 percent rice). We may not know which spices are in Mekhong, but according to Gemma bartender Walter Easterbrook, "The Mekhong rum adds a touch of spiced ginger to the refreshing juices, while a dash of angostura helps to harmonize the flavor profile and create a delicious cocktail." Since the rum has rich notes of toffee, vanilla, pepper, and cinnamon, the Thai Swizzle delivers an exotic, highly spiced flavor profile that will keep your palate guessing.