Food and cocktails, the heart and soul of any great bar and restaurant, have recently served as inspiration for some of the most innovative drinks from the world’s best bartenders. For example, recently named No.1 Cocktail Bar from North America’s 50 Best, Double Chicken Please, features the Cold Pizza, one of their hit cocktails. Cocktails like these showcase the creativity of mixologists and the playfulness of the art itself.
Here are a few more examples from bars and restaurants around the country that showcase culinary inspired libations.
Created by Nicolas O’Connor, Director of Mixology and Culinary Arts, Apotheke NoMad, New York, NY
This savory cocktail combines mezcal, San Marzano tomato, basil, white pepper, lime, habanero tincture and APO Libido bitters, served with a sea salt rim.
“New York City being such a diverse and vibrant culinary hub allows inspiration to come from all around. Taking the flavor profile of a dish and re-interpreting it into the glass is how many of our most popular cocktails have come to fruition. The Terra Rossa is inspired by a favorite style of spicy marinara sauce and seasoning, trying to capture the essence and savory quality of a pasta dish with a smoky overtone from the mezcal.”
“The Trompibueno is inspired by the al pastor tacos found on almost every corner in Mexico City. No matter where you go in CDMX, there are friendly taqueros standing next to large trompos (spits) carving off thin slices of pork into delicious tacos all day and night. They are a cornerstone of “chilango” street food culture. For the Trompibueno, we wanted to capture the essence of those street tacos in a cocktail and remind people of home. To accomplish this, we fat wash tequila with al pastor pork, use a pineapple based verdita (green sangrita) to capture the salsa element, and add lime and chiles guajillo, puya and morita for good measure. The result is a delicious cocktail that is savory, spicy, fresh and sweet all at the same time.”
Created by Robert Struthers, Beverage Director at Gair, Brooklyn, NY
Milk-washing is a mixology technique that’s been around for centuries but has slowly seen a revival over recent years. Today, some of the top cocktail bars across the country are now featuring an innovative clarified cocktail on their beverage menu.
theGOAT is a bright, light, refreshing cocktail inspired by a quick and easy summer salad that Rob and his partner whipped up with some farmer’s market ingredients such as mint, cantaloupe and feta cheese, for example. Gin and Cocchi Americano Bianco seemed like a natural split base, and they use lemon juice for acid, as well as Aelred Melon Aperitif for its pure expression of summer melon.
To incorporate the feta cheese, Rob landed on the idea of clarifying the whole drink with goat milk, which would lend its tangy flavor and silky texture to the cocktail, without any undesirable milk solids left behind.
Tom Kha Cocktail
Created by Jorge Viana, Beverage director, Bar Mischief at Inn Cahoots, Austin, TX
This Thai inspired cocktail combines Gray Whale gin, Tito’s Vodka and Nigori sake with mushroom, lemongrass, fresh lime and coconut cream foam. Viana approaches his liquid creations with a culinary sensibility, hand-pressing fresh juices, infusing spirits, dehydrating produce, and meticulously curating liquors to prioritize environmentally conscious choices.
“This cocktail was inspired by one of my favorite comfort foods. Tom Kha Gai is a Thai soup consisting of mushroom, lemongrass and coconut broth. Re-imagining the broth into drink ingredients, we end up with a multi-layered cocktail with a savory base and a sweet and fragrant foam with just a kiss of spice.”
1.5 oz. lemongrass-infused Gray Whale Gin
.75 oz. nigori sake
.25 oz. shiitake mushroom-infused Tito’s Vodka
.25 oz. rich simple syrup
1 bar spoon lime juice
Combine gin, vodka, and lime juice in mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into tall Collins glass. Top with coconut cream foam. Garnish with Cayenne, Chareua Aloe Vera Liquor mist and lime leaf or dehydrated lime wheel.
1.5 oz. coconut rum
.5 oz. lemongrass gin
1 oz. heavy whipping cream
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1 egg white
Shake first, then charge with isi cream charger.
Pizza Party Negroni
Created by Niko Novick, Spiegelworld’s Executive of Beverage, Superfrico, Las Vegas
“The Pizza Party Negroni is inspired by the unique restaurant and bar’s Italian American Psychedelic cuisine. This cocktail uses Askur Gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, fused with Roma tomato water, basil, and Castelvetrano olives for an improbable yet exciting creation. It is the perfect example of the cocktail program’s unconventional riff on classic drinks, with a slightly different texture, aroma, and flavors that excite the palate.”
Created by Yuranzi de Silva, Rayo Cocktail Bar, Mexico City
Inspired by a very traditional dish of northern Jalisco called carne en su jugo. Rayo’s garnish chef Yuranzi de Silva makes a lacto ferment of the vegetables found in the dish: tomato, tomatillo, garlic, and onions, followed by a craft Mexican pilsner beer reduction, and mezcal and rum that have been infused with bacon and different cuts of meat. Finally she adds a cilantro aroma and a beef tendon chicharrón for garnish, resulting in an elegant and well balanced boozy cocktail inspired by Jalisco.
30 mL fat washed mezcal (using Espadin & Matusalem Clasico)
30 mL Matusalem GR rum
6 drops lacto ferment
2.5 mL Averna amaro
10 mL beer and cilantro reduction
1 splash cilantro perfume
Pea Lime Pie
Created by NoMad London team, available at Common Decency, London, U.K.
The pea gastrique is a mixture of fresh pea pod juice, vinegar and sugar. It’s flavor is vegetal and savory, adding to the natural sweetness and highlighting the freshness of the peas.
0.25 oz. Green Chartreuse
0.5 oz. Pod Pea Vodka
0.75 oz. pea gastrique
0.5 oz. lime juice
Add all ingredients into a tin and shake well until combined, pour into a Nick and Nora glass, top with pea foam, and garnish with a pea shoot.
NY Bodega Sour
Created by Marshall Minaya, Beverage Director, Madame George, New York, NY
“An everything bagel sandwich inspired drink, reminiscent of a morning visit to your local New York bodega. Bacon washed Breuckelen 77 Rye commingles with flavors of maple and citrus. The addition of egg white provides a smooth, velvety balance. The final touch is a cloud of everything bagel aroma. We remove the glass in front of guests to maximize effect.”
2 oz. bacon fat washed 77 Rye
¾ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. grade B maple syrup
1 egg white
2 dash Reagans Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients to a small tin, dry shake. Add ice and shake vigorously. Double Strain into a chilled NY cup and garnish ¼ of the glass with black and white Sesame seeds.
Created by beverage team, Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar, Austin, TX
“The Clean Slate is an ode to Mexico’s cocktails that highlights some of the country’s most notable ingredients: avocado, agave, elote, and aloe. The idea was to make a mezcal based cocktail that was easily enjoyed by non-mezcal lovers. It uses fresh and bright flavors, accented by sweet corn, nutty avocado oregat and vegetal aloe.”
1.5 oz. Mezcal Verde Amaras
.5 oz. Nixta Liqueur
.25 oz. Chareau Aloe Liqueur
.25 oz. avocado orgeat
.5 oz. clarified lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a tall mixing glass, then stir to incorporate. Strain into a double rocks glass over a large cube, then garnish with dehydrated lemon wheel.
Yield: 6 cups
4 to 5 avocado pits
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
Make sure avocado pits are clean and dry, then scrub off any residue. Chop pits into chunks then blend on high until the shreds are fine and consistently sized. Over medium-high heat in a dry pan, toast the pits until bright orange.
In a bowl or saucepan, stir together the toasted pits, sugar and water. If you want a richer syrup, use only half of the water. Allow to infuse overnight. The next day, blitz mix in blender one more time to combine. Strain through a cheese cloth.
Created by Kate Houser, Bar Director, Ezov, Austin, TX
“Summer is melon season in Texas, and one of my favorite salads to make is with honeydew melons and oranges dressed with turmeric, honey, and a ginger vinaigrette. Top it all off with olive oil, sea salt, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and you’ve got sunshine in a bowl! With the Galillet, we blended Plantation 3 Star Rum and Lillet Blanc Aperitif to recreate the delicate sweetness of a ripe honeydew, and Arette Blanco Tequila represents the grassiness of olive oil. The rest of the drink comes together in a playful way- a crushable contrast of earthy, savory, citrusy, and sweet.”
.75 oz. rum (We use Plantation 3 Star)
.5 oz. blanco tequila (We use Arette)
.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
.5 oz. turmeric ginger honey syrup (recipe below)
.5 oz. lemon juice
.25 oz. orange juice
.25 oz. black pepper syrup (recipe below)
1.5 oz sparkling water
1 lemon wheel for garnish
Shake all ingredients except sparkling water, strain into a Collins glass with ice, and top with the 1.5 oz. sparkling water. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Turmeric Ginger Honey Syrup
100ml turmeric juice
100ml ginger juice
Add to a blender and blend to combine.
Black Pepper Syrup
10g black peppercorns
500ml boiling water
Create a tea with the black pepper and boiling water, allowing it to steep for at least 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve before straining out the peppercorns.