Page 8 of 11COCKTAIL CAUCUS
The local buzz on summer's favorite sips.
By Darby Doyle
Gather 'round, ye members of the Cocktail Party! Our base is strong and our spirits mighty. In this caucus of classic cocktails, here are our picks for a very boozy primary in which all the choices are pretty delicious. Whether you stir 'em up at home or enjoy them at our favorite watering holes around town, this is one contest where we all come out winners.
Bourbon or rye? Sure, there are plenty of cocktails made with other international whiskies, but in this good ol' American contest of booze purists, U.S.-made bourbon and rye are the clear front-runners, regardless of region. Try them in either of these classic front-runners:
New York City may now bleed blue, but back in the day, this whiskey-based winner was solidly the preferred sipper of The Gilded Age's Robber Barons. J. P. Morgan famously quaffed a Manhattan every day after stock trading closed. The 2:1:2 ratio of whiskey, sweet vermouth and double dashes of bitters stirred over cracked ice keeps the "class" in classic.
This Big Easy staple embraces all that's equally bold, boozy and ballsy about back-room political deals of centuries past. Arguably one of America's first cocktails, this heady combo of whiskey and absinthe reminds us that while taverns are no longer America's polling places, we sure wish more political arguments could be settled over a frosty glass.
Vodka vs. Gin:
Don't wait for Super Tuesday to get the skinny.
Vodka and Diet Soda:
Clearly, calorie count means more than flavor or quality quaffing for this delegation. We understand the appeal, but quite frankly for the same number of Fitbit steps we'd prefer to ask for a really great martini to sip nice and slow. Local favorites for gin or vodka martinis? Try the always-solid sipper at Copper Onion, or the powerful and pretty potion stirred up at Takashi's minimalist bar.
During the week of June 6-12, bartenders all over the damned globe pull out all the stops to create original variations of this classic 1:1:1 ratio of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. At least $1 of every Negroni sold goes toward a charity of the bar's choice (this year, the Beehive State's Bartender's Guild suggests supporting the Utah Rivers Council). The sky's the limit on spin for this gorgeous bevvy, so check out NegroniWeek.com to search for locations near you and all over the world. BRUNCH BATTLE: patio day-drinks FTW!
It's hard to beat this incumbent with a strong and diverse voting base. What a flip-flopper with the garnishes, though, right? Sometimes a minimalist celery stick, some places have everything in the garden and a whole fried chicken, too. We're partial to Lucky 13's spicy bloody with smoky bacon for patio sipping before catching a Bees baseball game. It's America's pastime, dontcha know?
Light and refreshing, a minimalist mimosa hits all the mid-morning feels with a 1:1 ratio of citrus juice and bubbly. Go Green Party (get it?) on Zest's sunny patio starting at 10 a.m. with their gorgeous Green Juice Mimosa. Or, at equally cheery Provisions in Millcreek, we love seeing this classic contender alongside its photogenic Italian-American running mate, the Aperol Spritz. TEQUILA: If your preferred method of "enjoying" tequila is the body shot, you're either a Trump supporter "because he's funny" or an under-21 college coed in Cabo over spring break. Either way? There's a good chance you bellow "Hell Yeaaaahhh" while throwing fake gang signs after every drink and engage in staggering public urination. We're hoping the party votes you out, but understand the train-wreck entertainment value. For the first few minutes, anyway.
First step to enjoying some great tequila or mescal without the "Ta kill ya" hangover? Go to a place that treats good ingredients with the respect they deserve, like Taqueria 27 or Frida Bistro. These folks make superb versions of Classic Margaritas and curate a good selection of aged reposados and añejos for sipping, and give us even more reasons to believe that stupid wall between us and Mexico is a shitty idea for a million cultural, economic and especially culinary reasons. RUM: Long a source of economic and political contention, much of early republic America's trade relations and growth as a naval power depended on the rum trade, long before whiskey was produced on these shores. Whether fresh off the still or aged in barrels, rum was the original grog of the masses.
A traditionalist's beverage, the daiquiri is pro-Cuba all the way. This classic concoction—when made the right way with only rum, sugar, lime juice and, for that Cubano flair, a titch of Maraschino liqueur—hits all the nostalgia buttons without the fear and loathing overtones of the Cold War. Big-arse cigar and straw hat optional.
Dark 'n' Stormy:
Sure, it's a highball, but you've probably got the mixin's for a classic DnS right in your cupboard; perfect for when the state liquor stores are closed on polling day: To a glass filled with cracked ice, add a few glugs of dark rum, fill the glass to the top with a spicy ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge. Bonus: a couple dashes of lime bitters. WANT IT ALL? The clear third-party dark horse comes from The Ruin in Sugar House, if only for the cleverness of the name, alone. Check out the booze-forward and complex "Champagne Finance Reform" on The Ruin's spring drinks menu. This potent combo hits good stuff: bourbon, rum, lemon, agave, orange bitters and a generous floater of bubbles.