The Strange Places Bartenders Find Inspiration
The crazy stories behind delicious cocktails.
Bartenders often look to classic drinks or seasonal ingredients for menu inspiration, but they sometimes find ideas in more unusual places. Here, a few of our favorite examples—and the resulting cocktails.
7-Eleven. Courtney Bissonnette, co-owner of Boston’s Coppa, decided to break from esoteric spirits and science-lab techniques and looked to the lowbrow ingredients sold at convenience stores for inspiration. The end product was The Coney Island Strongman, a mix of Miller High Life and green and yellow chartreuse. “It’s ridiculous, but people love it,” she says.
Soup. This Thai Martini was inspired by a Thai soup recipe made with apple and coconut milk.
Thanksgiving Dinner. A Thanksgiving dish of roasted artichokes with brown sugar inspired L.A. bartender Karen Grill to combine artichoke-based Cynar with brown sugar syrup in the Vice and Virtue.
Perfume. Chicago mixologist Jay Schroeder took a tip from perfumers and added a drop of neroli oil to his cocktail, the All Quiet. Extracted from bitter-orange blossoms, "it's got that wonderful, bright, floral aroma that's very welcoming and warming," he says.
Salad. Cameron Bogue came up with the My Thai mocktail after eating a salad of green papaya, melon and Thais basil on a trip to southern Thailand. To mimic the flavors, he muddles basil leaves with honeydew juice and demerara sugar.
A Book. Drink consultant Chad Solomon was inspired to create the Chai Almond Deluxe while reading Shantaram, a novel set in Mumbai. It’s made with chai-infused Cognac, honey syrup, almond milk and vanilla extract.
Sea Urchin. Don Lee based his Celery Nori, a savory old-fashioned, on a Momofuku Ssäm Bar dish that combined uni with celery sauce and seaweed.
A Photograph. A.J. Gilbert came up with the Ice Breaker after seeing a photograph of frozen grapes in a magazine. It utilizes grapes in three forms: ice wine, a frozen grape garnish and vodka made from distilled grape, such as Ciroc or Roth.