Food and drink writers are quick to call certain trends out or passé. Often, it’s wishful thinking—just because we’re weary of press releases about cupcakes and sliders doesn’t mean the eating public is prepared to stop loving them. And why should they be? Cupcakes and sliders are delicious. And in fact, the trajectory of these trends is usually less “arrive and then disappear” than it is “arrive, hang out, ebb, flow, seem to disappear, reappear with a vengeance,” and so on. Here are three cocktail trends that seem to have some staying power around these parts.
Fat-washing—adding melted fat to a spirit, chilling it so the fat solidifies, then skimming and straining the spirit—flared up a few years in New York City as the Next Big Thing. This winter it showed up at Fiola, where bar manager Jeff Faile served a beverage called Deer in the Headlights that featured Rittenhouse rye whiskey fat-washed with venison from the kitchen and mixed with Averna and Bitter Truth’s EXR bitters. You can’t get it anymore—“sadly, venison is off the menu now, and so is the drink,” reports Faile—but there’s always next year.
If you’d like to try a fat-washed drink today, however, you’re in luck. Ripple bartender Josh Berner recently debuted three. There’s the Chile Manteca, y Dulce with bacon-infused Benevá Joven mezcal, cayenne, and pecan syrup; Berner says it was inspired by the bar’s compulsively consumable bacon-roasted pecans. “‘Chile, manteca, y dulce’ literally translates to ‘chili, lard, and sweet,’” explains Berner. “The phrase is also a Mexican idiom that means ‘A little of everything.’” Apt, says Berner, since his cocktail is “smoky, sweet, nutty, and spicy, with hints of herbaceousness and tartness.”
If you prefer a meat-free libation, there’s the Play It, Sam, which combines sesame-oil-infused gin with aquavit and a date reduction, and the Difficult Difficult Lemon Difficult, with olive-oil-infused vodka, house-made preserved-lemon brine, lemon-spice bitters, and thyme.
Putting Everything On Tap
The putting-everything-on-tap phenomenon is clearly going nowhere soon. At soon-to-open El Chucho, Gordon Banks is about to introduce our fair city to its second on-tap margarita (Bandolero’s Sam Babcock got there first, but just barely). Meanwhile Jack Rose Dining Saloon bar lady Rachel Sergi is tweeting about the Willett bourbons she has on tap, while the Passenger staff pulls shots of Fernet Branca, the legendary Italian amaro. Then, of course, there are the wines on tap—Graffiato taps Prosecco; District Kitchen keeps kegs of regional wines.
Another trend that’s seemingly sticking around: house-made sodas. Banks will have a bevy of fizzies behind the bar that he hopes customers will boozify. Those will feature syrups like blueberry-poblano and coconut-kaffir-lime. The most anticipated soda happening in town, however, is Gina Chersevani’s Union Market soda shop, Buffalo and Bergen. There, too, customers will be able to “adult up” their honey-citrus and orange sodas. Other local sodas may be found at the Majestic, Founding Farmers, Green Pig Bistro, and We, the Pizza.