Since this issue's filled with reflections on 2013, I figured I'd use this space to look back at some memorable drinking:
The year started with a visit to The Propagandist, where owner Brian Divine was experimenting with bottled cocktails and rolling out a new menu. Unfortunately, ThePropagandist closed in April, though Divine said at the time that he had plans too reopen something in the future. Not sure when that'll be, but here's hoping the menu includes the Mango en Fuego.
February marked the opening of what's become one of my favorite cocktail spots, Polite Provisions (conveniently located across the street from my favorite Mexican restaurant, Cantina Mayahuel). On my first visit, I hit it off with two drinks, the Ocean Side (London dry gin, lime juice, mint, celery bitters and a pinch of sea salt) and Attorney Privilege (bourbon, orgeat, lemon and bitters), but my favorite Polite Provisions cocktail was the Hatori Hanzo (Auchentoshan Three Wood whisky, lemon, violette and absinthe), which appeared for one evening only, on a special menu for a fundraiser. I'd love to see this one make another appearance.
In April, I wrote about RX Bitters, a local company started by Brett Winfield (Seven Grand), Ryan Andrews (Coin-Op) and Eric Lockridge (PrepKitchen), which had just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign, exceeding their $8,000 goal by $5,000. You can now find RX Bitters at a num- ber of fine bars around town, and they'll be introducing new flavors in 2014.
In May, I attended a cocktail-pairing dinner at PrepKitchen and was introduced to Caffe Borghetti, an Italian liqueur made from espresso. I'm still on the hunt for a bottle of the stuff.
It took me awhile to get to Sycamore Den, which opened in June. Lead bartender Eric Johnson let me try the lovely Dovetail Julep (gin, cognac, peach bitters, mint, absinthe), a summery drink that's not on the bar's current winter menu but hopefully will return when the weather warms up. Till then, that winter menu's well worth a visit.
In August, I hung out with Jen Queen, who was putting the final touches on her new menu for Saltbox, which combined whimsy—with cocktails like the Cinnamon Toast Punch (Makers Mark, gingersnap liqueur, cereal-sweetened milk and chocolate bitters)—and Queen's masterful use of tequila and mescal, like the Mexican Monk (Del Maguey Vida mescal, yellow chartreuse, peach bitters and angostura bitters).
The Cat Eye Club had been open a few months by the time I made it over there in September; the Downtown location (parking) is the only reason I haven't been back. The menu's all classics, like the Vieux Carre, Whiskey Smash and Corpse Reviver, all exceedingly well-made. I'm still thinking about that Sazerac.
The year rounded out with a couple of lovely discoveries: the "mini" ($5) cocktails at Great Maple (try the Sweet Pamplemousse) and the transformative power of smoked ice—which you can make at home! (Melt ice in a smoker, then refreeze it.)
So, cheers to 2013, and here's to 2014. Maybe I'll finally find that Borghetti.