Shaking Things Up
Stirred, blended and chilled to perfection, Atlanta's best mixologists share their favorite city-inspired drink recipes.
With cities awash in au courant cocktail bars and secret speakeasys, and magazines packed with mentions of "mixologists," you'd be surprised to hear that not so long ago you'd have been hard-pressed to find a decent swill in the city. Bars and restaurants with impressive drink programs were few and far between, and the term "mixologist" might as well have been a foreign language. Atlanta's cocktail scene has since been shaken up and is now creating a stir. Four of the South's best bartenders — ahem,mixologists — present us with their favorite Atlanta creations.
GREG BEST: HOLEMAN & FINCH PUBLIC HOUSE
2277 Peachtree Rd, 404-948-1175, www.holeman-finch.com
The Drink: Edgewood Cocktail
The Recipe: 1 oz dry gin 1 oz fresh white grapefruit juice 1/2 oz Portal Moscatel (Cocchi Americano works as a substitution) 1/2 oz Cynar Shake and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt.
Best Says: "The Edgewood cocktail (named after the downtown Edgewood district) was a drink I created about seven years ago that has become a go-to classic here. Light-bodied, with a great undercurrent of dried herbs and botanicals, this drink was meant to celebrate the rich and vibrant smell of vegetation that permeates our city in the warmer months."
The Verdict: If you can appreciate a slight bitterness and have a penchant for grapefruit, you'll knock this drink back and order another.
LARA CREASY: JCT KITCHEN
1198 Howell Mill Rd; 404-355-2252; www.jctkitchen.com
The Drink: JCTea
The Recipe: 1 1/2 oz iced tea-infused gin* (she uses Seagram's Dry) 1/2 oz Grand Marnier 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice 1/2 oz simple syrup 4 dashes orange bitters (she uses Fee Brothers)
* To make iced tea-infused gin, add 1/4 packet of Luzianne iced tea (a commercial size packet) to one bottle of gin. Allow it to sit for several hours, and then strain through fine mesh to remove all tea debris. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a quarter orange slice.
Creasey Says: "I created the JCTea as our house cocktail to appeal to our many Southern guests who love their iced tea. Although it sounds very simple, it's actually a perfect balance of sweet, acidic and bitter astringent. It's really refreshing and also quite boozy."
The Verdict: It's sweet and delicious and goes down easy — Southerners can't get enough of it. Extra points for local authenticity.
CORINA DAROLD: CAKES & ALE
155 Sycamore St, Decatur; 404-377-7994; www.cakesandalerestaurant.com
The Drink: Owl Eyes
The Recipe: 1 1/2 oz Campari 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano 1/2 oz orange juice 1/2 oz agave nectar
Dash of orange bitters Splash of soda water Shake well and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Top with a splash of soda and garnish with an orange twist.
Darold Says: "Taking inspiration from the traditional and transforming it into something new is at the core of the Atlanta cocktail scene, which is what I did with this drink. It is named after the character in The Great Gatsby, a story based in New York, but with a sort of Southern charm. Much like the book, the drink is bitter, sweet and savory."
The Verdict: This perfect, old-school blend of tangy and tart will leave you wanting more.
ERIC AARONS: ECCO
40 7th St; 404-347-9555; www.ecco-atlanta.com
The Drink: The Castro Monk
The Recipe: 1 1/2 oz whiskey (he uses High West Double Rye) 1 oz Benedictine liqueur 1 oz sour mix Dash of orange bitters Vermouth (he uses Dolin)
Spray a chilled fiesta glass with vermouth. In a mixing tin with ice, combine Benedictine, sour mix and a dash of orange bitters. Shake vigorously, then strain into glass. Squeeze in a blood orange slice and drop it into the glass.
Aarons Says: "I have a fascination with the rebirth of classic cocktails, and the Frisco intrigued me. Few bartenders could properly mix this much-loved libation, so I decided to perfect the recipe and make it unique to Atlanta and Ecco. My Southern spin on the drink includes orange bitters, housemade sour mix, and blood orange.
The Verdict: Just one of these will have you buzzing. This drink is refreshing and inspired, as well as a tad dangerous, which is just how we like it.