Wednesday night I went to Craigie on Main with Julie, Bridget, Chris and Phil for their Cocktail Whim—four half cocktails decided upon by the bartender. Carrie took us on a fun cocktail adventure that began with a light appley sparkling cocktail and ended with a rich, dessert-like sherry flip. Along the way she shared lots of little tidbits about the yum ingredients in our cocktails. This bartender’s whim is a great way to experiment and try some new stuff and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite—my new find was Becherovka.
Our first drink was the Tavern Sparkler.
Apple cider and honey syrup are matched up with Becherovka, and a little champagne tops it off. This was my first experience with Becherovka, and it may soon become a favorite. Like many of these traditional liqueurs, this bitter one from the Czech Republic, was traditionally used as a home remedy for stuff like toothaches and arthritis. Cinnamon is the most prominent of the over thirty two herbs and spices in this secret recipe. In this drink that cinnamon-herbal flavor perfectly compliments the apple cider and honey. Then the champagne adds just enough sparkle to make the cocktail even more interesting—it’s bubbly, but not too bubbly. Apple, cinnamon and honey are such familiar flavors and for me made drinking this cocktail a comforting experience. Especially on a cold winter evening it warmed the soul. This wonderful start was Julie’s favorite.
For drink #2, we had the Final Ward. And this picture does not do this amazing drink justice.
This is a variation of the Last Word—one for my absolute favorite drinks—which is equal parts (3/4 ounces to be exact) gin, maraschino, green Chartreuse and lime juice. Carrie explained that this version was developed by New York bartender Phil Ward. Rye replaces gin and lemon replaces the lime. And while I didn’t think you could improve on a drink as good as the Last Word this is pretty damn good. The spiciness of the rye adds a depth to the already delicious mix of herbally Chartreuse and maraschino. And anything served with one of those Luxardo maraschino cherries is delicious!
Next came the 3-2-1.
This one has Fighting Cock bourbon, Aperol, sloe gin and whiskey barrel aged bitters. The woody flavor of the savory bourbon and bitters are a solid foundation for this drink. But the real punch comes from the Aperol. Like Campari, Aperol is a bitter liqueur made from citrus (oranges to be exact), and it’s the most prominent part of this drink—which I really like. The sloe gin adds not only sweet berriness which slightly mellows the bourbon and bitterness, but also makes the cocktails beautiful with that rich red color. I loved the orange aroma and flavor that bookend this drink—I was drawn in by the robust orange fragrance and loved the way the orange bitter flavor lingers in your mouth long after the sip has been swallowed. This may have been my favorite.
We finished with the Jerez Flip.
While I am getting over my fear of eggs in cocktails and am really becoming a flip convert, this was my least favorite of the night. There was a lot going on—oloroso sherry, Pimm’s, Benedictine, demarara syrup, angostura and mole bitters. I loved the Benedictine and really enjoy the richness thatan egg adds to a cocktail and who doesn’t love trying to get every last drop of foam from the glass. Although I admit I am not as patient as Chris was in making that happen. The reason for my hesitation with this particular flip was the inclusion of oloroso sherry—I am not a huge fan of sherry. This was, however, one of Bridget’s favorite, which is the beauty of the Cocktail Whim, one person’s least favorite is another’s favorite.
Four yum cocktails, some good bar food (shoe string fries, thinner than any shoe string I have had, were reminescent of those potato sticks in a can from childhood), and friends, of course, made for a good Wednesday. And I can’t forget to mention how much I loved thetotally adorable mini-glasses. Salute!