Vaporised nightcaps, grown-up slushies, a rebooted Sinatra fave. ShortList travels to New Orleans’ hush hush bartender convention to bring you the drinks you’ll be sampling soon
Since they evolved from wolves 30,000 years ago, dogs have been man’s best friend. But coming a very close second? The bartender, of course. Each year thousands of elite, world-class bottle-jockeys gather in secret in New Orleans at
a closed event called Tales Of The Cocktail – think Bilderberg Group with red cups – to dream up entertaining new ways to keep us glued to a bar stool. ShortList infiltrated this year’s round of tastings, masterclasses and, well, more tastings, to observe eight amazing booze innovations that have been taking shape...
THE PICKLE- JUICE CHASER
Known as a Pickleback or Bartender’s Handshake, the pickle-juice chaser (yep, from a jar of gherkins) was invented in the hip dives of Brooklyn. It transpired that a shot of pickle juice after a shot of Jameson Irish whiskey (it must be Jameson) is as good as a death row hamburger. The Pickleback is now spreading across Europe, so the British have, of course, gentrified it. Forget gherkin dregs – you can now buy The Pickle House’s artisanal pickle juice.
THE CANNED MARTINI
Canned drinks are ideal for picnics, but who wants to whip out cooking lager in polite company? Cue the world’s first high-end canned cocktail. Resembling a tuna can, King’s Cross favourite Megaro Bar’s Hemingway-inspired Fisherman’s Martini – with Plymouth Navy gin – is a world-class drink. The ‘Fisherman’s’ part? Old Man Of The Sea essence. The first sip is a little queer, but we were sold by the second.
THE DRINK YOU CAN SMOKE
The answer to the smug question, “What are you smoking?” can now be, “A cocktail, obviously.” London design firm Inkorporate – which dreams up headline-grabbing drinks accessories tools for the world’s finest bars – has invented a glass that allows bartenders to serve smoke-able cocktails. You’ll find the bespoke glasswear at Artesian Bar, where you can sample the delights of its two chambers. The bottom is filled with Grand Marnier and chocolate vapour made with a machine called Le Whaf, while the top contains the actual cocktail. You inhale the exceptionally-smooth alcoholic smoke and take a sip. Sciencey. We just made that word up.
Hybrid drinks – from Dead Crow’s bourbon beer to Hyde & Co’s sake-infused gin – are already trending like a One Direction scandal on Twitter. But it’s fair to say Red Eye Louie’s ‘Vodquila’ is the hybrid that will make headlines all over the world. A blend of premium vodka and Mexican blue agave tequila, its clean taste has already garnered a silver medal in a blind tasting at the International Wine And Spirits Competition 2014.
THE LUXURY SLUSHIE
The slushie is back – in an adult guise. The frozen Margarita Flight at Casa Negra includes four mini El Jimador Blanco tequila slushies. No bueno? Try the Artesian Bar’s ‘How Do You Spell Banana Daiquiri?’ (£16.50), a creamy banana and rum slushie garnished with salty caviar for bite. Sounds terrifying, tastes awesome.
THE GIN TO END ALL GINS
Casablanca’s Rick Blaine played chess because Humphrey Bogart loved chess (he once held a grandmaster to a draw). Similarly, the reason most of Bogie’s characters mainlined gin was... well, you can probably guess. So the forthcoming Bogart’s Gin makes sense. Bankrolled by a US billionaire, it’s made in Cambridge by a British distiller using a copper pot infused with crushed macadamia nuts. It’s one of the best we’ve tasted.
THE SAVOURY WOODLAND COCKTAIL
The line between cocktails and savoury food has already been blurred by The Trafalgar Hotel, with its Lobster Cosmos (lobster tails marinated in vodka) and Steak Martini (marinated in gin). But Tony Conigliaro, owner of Islington’s 69 Colebrooke Row, is revolutionising the savoury cocktail world with the woodland-themed Royal Oak, made with acorn liqueur and cedar bitters. The recipe is in his book.
THE ARTISAN GROG
During its heyday, the Navy Grog cocktail found fame as Frank Sinatra’s favourite drink. Invented by faux-Polynesian bar The Beachcomber in Palm Springs, it comprised equal measures of dark, gold and white rum. Yeah, it’s pretty stiff, hence why The Beachcomber’s menu implored customers to limit themselves to “two or three”. Now the secret of making an authentic Navy Grog – and its ingenious frozen straw called an ‘ice cone’ – has finally been revealed by Tony Ramos, who used to make Sinatra’s Grogs. To make a faithful copy, you’ll need the Navy Grog Cone Kit. Full instructions are on the box; read them before you start drinking.