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Cracking the Bar Code: The Top Bartender 14 Secrets
  • April 25, 2013 : 07:04
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With equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, this is a drink for all tastes.

2 ounces rye or bourbon
½ ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce dry vermouth
Angostura or orange bitters
maraschino cherry

Combine liquid ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Stir 30 times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with maraschino cherry.

There’s no easier way to ruin a glass of expensive liquor than to add a few shriveled ice cubes from your malodorous freezer. “Good ice is a crucial ingredient,” says Craig Schoettler, the 26-year-old prodigy who launched the groundbreaking beverage program at Aviary in Chicago. “Whatever you put into your drink is going to get consumed.” Schoettler, who now runs a less high-concept setup at Drumbar in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, recommends making ice with the best water possible and not storing it in the freezer for too long. You want the ice to taste pure, not like last month’s leftovers. Schoettler also gets creative with cubes: For the Cape Cod fizz he freezes organic cranberry juice into cubes and pours vodka and soda over them for a twist on the vodka cranberry.

If your tap water tastes off, skip the ice maker and freeze your own cubes using neutral-tasting water. “No one is going to be able to discern if you use Evian,” Schoettler says. “Filtered water is just fine.”

Tovolo ice cube tray, $7,

When Jeffrey Morgenthaler, bartender at Clyde Common in Portland, poured a negroni into an empty whiskey barrel on a lark, the ultrasmooth result sparked a nationwide trend. “We barrel-age only cocktails that have some sort of fortified wine in them, like vermouth or sherry,” Morgenthaler says. When a spirit-driven cocktail (read: no fresh ingredients) sits in an oak barrel, the wine oxidizes and picks up notes of grass, citrus and mushroom. The aging also pulls out hints of vanilla, caramel and wood. And the process is remarkably simple: Just dump the ingredients into a barrel and wait.

Morgenthaler recommends using a one-liter Tuthilltown Spirits barrel ($60,

11 ounces Tanqueray or Beefeater gin
11 ounces green Chartreuse
11 ounces Cinzano sweet vermouth
1 teaspoon orange bitters
lemon peel

Soak barrel in warm water for 48 hours to swell the wood. Combine liquid ingredients and pour into barrel using a funnel. Seal barrel and let ingredients age for three weeks. Decant barrel through a double-mesh strainer into a large bottle or pitcher. Shake ingredients and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Muddling (a.k.a. smashing) fresh fruit and herbs in a glass infuses a drink with the flavors of the season (think lime- and mint-redolent mojito). Matthew Biancaniello, the L.A.-based mixologist who holds court at Cliff’s Edge, uses his muddler as much as his cocktail shaker. To create the drink below, he mined a farmers’ market for botanical inspiration. The result is spicy, sweet, herbaceous and bracing.

TAG bar muddler, $18,

3 sage leaves
5 raspberries
1 slice ginger root, ⅛ inch thick
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce agave syrup (1:1 ratio water to agave)
2 ounces vodka or gin
4 blackberries

Muddle sage, raspberries, ginger root, lemon juice and agave syrup in a mixing glass. Add vodka or gin and shake. Strain into a collins glass over ice. Garnish with blackberries.

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read more: lifestyle, alcohol, issue may 2013


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