Bars Cocktails Mixology

Year in Review: Chicago’s Year in Cocktails

Over on Chicagoist, Roger Kamholz presents the "Year in Cocktails," a fast summary of what happened on the craft cocktail scene last year in Chicago. In short:

"It's been an incredible year for cocktails in Chicago. From the openings of several exciting new bars, to the creativity on display at the city's most established watering holes, Chicago has hit an impressive stride when it comes to the cocktail."

According to Kamholz, the best drink he had all year was the Gunshop Fizz, a cocktail mixed up at New Orleans' Cure using Peychaud's Bitters as the primary ingredient. (Sounds kinda gross to me, but maybe it works.)

Probably the most exciting cocktailian happening in Chicago last year was the opening of Aviary, one of the country's most innovative bars.

Kamholz concludes by saying he looks "forward to seeing what Chicago's remarkable group of bartenders and mixologists have in store for us in 2012."

Cheers to that!

Bars Cocktails Mixology

Year in Review: Top 5 Cocktail Experiences of 2011

Derek Brown, owner of DC's The Passenger and one of the cocktail world's brightest luminaries, took to the pages of The Atlantic to share his Top 5 Cocktail Experiences of 2011.

Over the course of the year, Derek visited some of the country's (and the world's) best bars in order to sample the cutting edge of mixology. It's a difficult job, but Derek took the hit for us.

Among his favorite drinks he encountered: the Martinez Sour, as prepared by Justin Pike at The Tasting Kitchen in L.A., a Rob Roy, as mixed by Arash Hanjianpour at Candelaria in Paris, and the Cold Hot Chocolate from Craig Schoettler at Aviary in Chicago.

Derek opines that the trend for high-end cocktails shows no signs of abating; if anything, it's now become part of the mainstream. Good news for those of us who love fine spirits. (Even if it makes our livers a little sad.)

Spirits Reviews

Year in Review: Best Spirits and Liqueurs of 2011

Simon Difford and CLASS Magazine round up the 50 best spirits and liqueurs of 2011. They combed through their reviews of the past year and culled out only those spirits that receive a "5+" review (out of a possible score of 5). In Difford's words, "not only do we consider them faultless, but they also have that something which makes them extra special."

Only one of the spirits on the list is in my collection: Ron Zacapa XO Solera Grand Special Reserve, an aged rum from Guatemala. I haven't cracked the bottle yet, so I can't give you my opinion, but it gets very high marks across the board.

Several other spirits that CLASS singles out are ones that I've had my eye on.  High West Double Rye Whiskey. Pierre Ferrand "Selection des Anges" 30 Year Old Cognac. Dolin Dry Vermouth. Plantation Extra Old Barbados Rum. Gonzalez Byass Sherry.

Some others that I'd like to try: Hakshu 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. Adnams First Rate Gin. Sipsmith Summer Cup 2011. De Kuyper Apricot Brandy XO. Giffard Muroise du Val de Loire

Finally, for those who have an extra $700 to drop on a bottle of booze, there's Grand Marnier Quintessence. One can always dream…