With so many great choices on cocktail menus, who can choose just one? Thankfully, a new breed of cocktail service has you covered. Enter the flight, where several small drinks are combined in one sipping experience. As with wine, these samples let you compare and contrast ingredients and technique, one tiny coupe at a time.
The innovative, molecular gastronomic masterpieces of chef José Andrés extend to the glass with Barmini’s cocktail flights. “We offer smaller versions of a selection of cocktails that most greatly showcase the techniques that we use at Barmini,” says Miguel Lancha, cocktail innovator of parent company ThinkFoodGroup. “All of the cocktails in the flights tell stories about the innovative spirit of Barmini and techniques we use and develop.” Enjoy them solo, or next to snacks like grilled cheese or a decadent foieffle (foie gras waffle). Starts at $40, minibarbyjoseandres.com
The Anasazi Restaurant, Bar and Lounge
At this restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico, infused Tequila flights are served on the rocks with a sangrita chaser. Margaritas get the same treatment, with flavored Tequilas that include mandarin jalapeño, grapefruit cucumber, hatch chili and Anasazi black tea. The experience educates Tequila enthusiasts about its history and unique elements, says food and beverage operations manager Daniel Rivera. “The infusions allow guests to enjoy Santa Fe’s favorite spirit, enhanced with the city’s signature flavors.” $15/flight of three infused Tequilas or margaritas, www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/inn-of-the-anasazi-santa-fe/dining
The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek
This Ohio steakhouse offers a study in drams, showcasing how different styles can influence a classic whiskey cocktail. A Tennessee option stirs Jack Daniels with Dolin and orange bitters. A Kentucky twist mixes Bulleit Bourbon with Boissière sweet vermouth and cherry bitters, while in another variation, George Dickel rye mingles with Boissière sweet vermouth and Old-Fashioned bitters. “The inspiration truly came from wanting to educate guests and showcase the different styles of Manhattans,” says Ryan Valentine, beverage director for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. $15/flight of three cocktails, thebarncolumbus.com
After samples of its barrel-aged draft cocktails piqued guests’ palates, this chef-driven restaurant in Denver started to offer them in a flight. Lots of local spirits go into the drinks, including Leopold Bros. whiskey for the Manhattan, Jackelope gin for the Negroni and Colorado vodka for the sparkling elderflower-and-pear Perfection. “It’s a great way to learn to love a cocktail or an ingredient, especially if you’re not familiar with a cocktail by name or a specific ingredient,” says bar manager Victoria Errio. $12/flight of 3 cocktails, thenickeldenver.com
The post-workday Japanese custom of chotto ippai, or “let’s have a small drink,” stirred head bartender Matt Allred’s collection of wee-sized tipples. The selection changes weekly, served in vintage glassware and adorned with miniature garnishes. The Lilliputian libations include Eastern-tweaked sips like a Gibson that eschews vodka for shochu, and a Bellini where sparkling saké stands in for Champagne. “The social aspect really brings it back home to the Japanese custom of winding down your workday with your team,” says Allred. $30/flight of 3 drinks, zentanrestaurant.com