Bartenders nationwide are coming up with new and exciting ways to tantalize cocktail drinkers.
Cocktails, it seems, know no boundaries when it comes to age. According to bartenders I met, everyone from the cool techno-geeks in their mid- to late-twenties to aging Baby Boomers is excited about the eclectic trends being created behind the bars of America.
Victoria Damato-Moran, a bartender at Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse in San Francisco, is well known in Fog City for her unusual drinks—but they always have her customers coming back for more. “As long as I have been a bartender in North Beach my clientele has been all ages, 21 to 81,” she says, “I have several older women, 55 to 65, that love to come in and try my new recipes, as well as younger women. Only around 50% of men try out a new drink. They tend to stick to their old standbys: Manhattans, and premium gin and vodka martinis.”
While Victoria’s customers are divided a bit by gender and age group, everyone seems to like her newest cocktail creation, The Pama Rose. It features a new pomegranate liqueur, PAMA, as its base. It also calls for both citrus- and rose-flavored vodkas, Cointreau and fresh lemon juice. Pomegranate is certainly hot this year.
Brandon Boudet, chef/owner of Dominick’s restaurant and bar in West Hollywood, a place that was once a watering hole favored by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, says that it’s actually the men who gravitate toward one of his hottest new drinks, The Dominick. It’s a simple mixture of Bourbon and chinotto soda, a drink made from a small bitter citrus fruit found on the chinotto, or myrtle-leaved orange tree. “The Dominick, our twist on the Manhattan, is a staple with men; it’s a big drink in the social clubs of New York’s Little Italy,” says Boudet. On the age front, he adds, “The 30-40 year-olds are all about the fresh juices—Mojitos and cucumber martinis sell like hot cakes.”
Jonathan Pogash, director of cocktail development at New York’s World Bar, cites his World Peace Cocktail as one of the hottest new drinks of 2006. This cocktail also knows no age boundaries: “The World Bar attracts a sophisticated crowd, ranging in age from late 20s to 60s, and up. It is really quite a diverse group, much attributed to the close proximity of the United Nations,” he says. “The ladies are more adventuresome than the men… [older men] stick with their Scotches and Bourbons, so in coming up with new recipes, I try to incorporate ingredients that would spark their interests as well.”
In Chicago, Matt Navarro, co-owner and general manager of Cuatro, a hot Nuevo Latino bar, club and restaurant, says that his customers enjoy drinks made with Champagne because “the crisp acidity cuts the extreme sweetness found in many of today’s cocktails. My sister and I always drink a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut L-P Champagne along with our specialty martinis, since it is so clean and refreshing.”
Earlier this year Cuatro marked its first anniversary. The owners celebrated by creating a new cocktail: the 21st Martini. Staying true to the restaurant’s Nuevo Latino concept, the drink is made with rum, fresh guava juice and freshly pressed sugar cane juice. The cocktail is then topped off with a little Champagne from a split of their favorite bubbly, and the bottle is left on the table, alongside a Champagne flute.
So customers at Cuatro can now sample the drink in the same way that Navarro and his sister like to drink it.
In Washington, D.C., Urbana, a subterranean restaurant and wine bar, hired San Francisco-based Jacques Bezuidenhout to develop their cocktail menu. He is a mixologist known for working with wines as well as spirits when creating new drinks. One of his cocktails, the Uva Maria, calls for Tequila, Muscat and muddled seedless white grapes, topped with fresh lime juice and a splash of simple syrup. It’s a must for wine and Tequila lovers alike.
On the question of who is drinking what in various age groups, Bezuidenhout believes that everyone is looking for something new, and says that it’s up to the bartender to introduce them to different flavors. Customers over the age of 40 tend to stick to their tried-and-true drinks, he says, but, “If I have served them a few times I might send them a variation of their cocktail. It can be successful sometimes.” Younger customers are easier to deal with, “as long as you stick to similar style drinks. For instance I won’t try and drop a Sazerac [a rye whiskey-based drink] on a cosmo drinker. But I will try to get them to try a gin, Tequila or rum cocktail that is maybe a little more on the fruity side. It may open a new world of spirits to them.”
As a member of the Boomer generation, I have what I like to think of as my drink: the Manhattan. I do order negronis quite often, and I try new creations on a very regular basis, but when I settle down in my armchair in the evening, there will usually be a Manhattan by my side. Most of my friends in my age group seem to all have their favorite quaffs, too, but such is seldom the case with most folk under the age of, say, 35. They treat drinks in the same manner that my generation treats food: When they go to a certain bar or restaurant, they peruse the cocktail menu, and they’ll try something new almost every time. I think they have the right idea.
Pama Rose Cocktail
Adapted from a recipe by Victoria Damato-Moran, bartender at Joe Dimaggio’s Italian Chophouse, San Francisco.
1 ounce Pama Liquor
1 ounce Skyy Citrus
Â¾ ounce Shaker’s Rose vodka
Â¼ ounce crème de cacao
Â¼ ounce Cointreau
Â¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 rose petal, for garnish
1 lemon twist, for garnish
Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients.
Shake for approximately 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and add the garnishes.
Adapted from a recipe by Brandon Boudet, chef/ owner of Dominick’s, West Hollywood.
2 ounces Wild Turkey Bourbon
1 ounce chinatto soda
1 Maraschino cherry,
Fill a mixing glass two- thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients. Stir for approximately 30 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add the garnish.
The World Peace Cocktail
Adapted from a recipe by Jonathan Pogash, director of cocktail development at The World Bar, New York. At the World Bar this drink is garnished with a “dove of peace” made from white chocolate. We substituted a lemon twist.
1Â½ ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
2 drops blue Curacao
2 drops orgeat syrup
Â½ ounce fresh lemon juice
Splash of elderflower syrup
1 lemon twist, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients. Shake for approximately 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and add the garnish.
Adapted from a recipe by Matt Navarro, co-owner/ general manager at Cuatro, Chicago. At Cuatro, this drink is served in a glass rimmed with guava sugar.
2Â½ ounces 10 Cane rum
2 ounces fresh guava juice
2 ounces fresh-pressed sugar cane juice
Laurent-Perrier Brut L-P Champagne
Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add the rum, guava juice, and sugar cane juice. Shake for approximately 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and top with the Champagne.
Adapted from a recipe created by mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout for Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar, Washington, D.C.
Â¼ ounce fresh lime juice
6 seedless white grapes
1Â½ ounces Milagro Blanco Tequila
1Â½ ounces Muscat
Â¼ ounce simple syrup
3 seedless white grapes skewered on a cocktail pick, as garnish
Put the 6 grapes and the lime juice into an empty mixing glass and grind them with a wooden muddler until all the juices have been extracted from the grapes. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake for approximately 15 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and add the garnish.