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Cocktail Revolution

by Erin Z. Bass

The current issue of Bon Appetit magazine lists the best new cocktail bars across the country, and Southern cities New Orleans, Nashville and Houston get a mention as taking part in the cocktail revolution. Defined by BA as “nattily dressed bartenders, pre-Prohibition-era settings, and fresh ingredients,” this is not just a fleeting trend. “It’s never been easier to get a well-prepared Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, or other classic in just about every American city,” writer Andrew Knowlton concludes.

In Nashville, the Patterson House is a bit swankier than a lot of the city’s honky tonk bars. Reviews on Yelp all point to the Bacon Old-Fashioned as the drink of choice, but this bar also serves up Pimms Cups, whiskey-based Carpetbaggers and Tequila Mockingbirds on Music Row. Anvil Bar & Refuge on Westheimer in Houston is noted for its creativity and classics. Ginger beer and bitters are made in-house, and there’s a list of “100 Drinks Everyone Should Try at Least Once.” You can bet the Sazerac, Manhattan, Gin Sour and Singapore Sling are on it.

Cure in New Orleans is described as an “uptown watering hole a bit more sophisticated than most bars in the Crescent City.” With a cocktail menu featuring drinks with names like Nervous Light of Sunday, a mix of gin, lemon, three different flavors of bitters and grapefruit peel, and The Rose Hinted Glass, made up of cognac, fennel tea, mint, lemon and rosewater, Cure was inspired by the past. The bar takes patrons back to a time when “cocktail bars have been bastions of civility and sophistication … the cocktail bar was a place where ladies and gentlemen went to socialize in a productive and cultured way,” according to its house rules. Cure asks that gentlemen wear long pants, patrons be patient with bartenders as their cocktails are mixed and leave with dignity.

New Orleans does stake the claim to be the city where several classic cocktails – like the Sazerac – were born and celebrates its spirited past starting today with Tales of the Cocktail. This festival of cocktails, cuisine and culture (one of our Top 10 Events for July) brings together award-winning mixologists, authors, bartenders, chefs and designers for a five-day celebration of the history and artistry of making drinks. Check out the schedule of events and seminars if you’ll be in New Orleans over the next few days. If not, rest assured you’ll be able to find the perfect cocktail the next time you find yourself in NOLA, Nashville or Houston.

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  • Joe Watts / July 21, 2010

    I love a good drink. Highlands Bar and Grill (and Frank Stitt’s other restaurants) mix up an amazing drink called an Orange Thing, with premium vodka, Cointreau and fresh squeezed orange juice that is delicious and dangerous.

  • Joe Watts / July 21, 2010

    Well, I forgot to mention that you can get that drink when you visit Birmingham, Alabama!