Bartenders continually experiment to translate the taste of a restaurant’s cuisine to their beverage list. Sometimes, different culinary heritages converge in a libation. These drinks don’t just complement dishes coming out of the kitchen; they are gastronomic adventures in a glass. Take a taste trip bursting with flavor and history with these cocktails that incorporate traditions and ingredients from two cultures.
8Arm beverage director Joshua Fryer’s Phuket Sour is a riff on a classic gin sour that brings together British components and those from some former colonies. Southeast Asian cuisine is rooted in the harmonious mixing of sweet, sour and salty. The Phuket Sour mixes London dry gin, lime juice, cane syrup and egg white. The transformation comes with the addition of fish sauce, which lends a touch of savoriness and salinity. The subtle combination is unexpected in English cut crystal stemware. (710 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com)
At C. Ellet’s, bar manager Jeff Banks showcases tradition in the Hammer, a light, refreshing sipper with a bit of kick. Like a Parisian margarita, it’s contemplative yet delicate, with heady notes. Alpine elderflower blossoms are handpicked once a year to make St. Germain. Across the globe in Mexico, blue agave is similarly hand harvested and roasted to make blanco tequila. Floral notes from St. Germain bring out the tequila’s agave notes and balance tart lime juice. (2605 Circle 75 Parkway, Atlanta. 678-996-5344, c-ellets.com)
You’ll want to call Foundation Social Eatery’s Cashmere Scarf by its homophone. Saffron lends to the drink’s sandlewood hue the refined spice of exotic, mountainous Kashmir. Then, tropical vanilla, dried fruit and baking spices swirl with Caribbean rum. Earl Grey tea is in there, too, confusing and titillating your palate with a silky smooth mélange of flavor and place. (1570 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. 770-641-8877, foundationatl.com)
The vibrant crimson infusion called Guilty Pleasure at Midtown’s Bar Margot pulls from India and Mexico. The cocktail is built around the beauty and intensity of hibiscus, a traditional, sometimes medicinal, flower used in both food cultures. Grenadine, fortified with hum liqueur, brings hibiscus and kaffir lime to the forefront. The cinnamon in chai pairs well with the savoriness of the base spirit, tequila. This tart beauty is topped with hibiscus flowers. (75 14th St., Atlanta. 404-881-5913, barmargotatl.com)
It’s Italy by way of Scotland with the Upside Down at BoccaLupo. Incorporating Angostura Amaro, Bruto Americano aperitif and China China liqueur with Auchentoshan 12-year, it’s bold, boozy and earthy-bittersweet. The Lowland Scotch brings a gingery-sweet maltiness that lingers on the palate. Much like Bruce Logue’s menu, Austin Huckaby’s drink, with bitter orange overlay and a single malt backbone, leads inventions of the past to a more interesting and exciting place. (753 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta. 404-577-2332, boccalupoatl.com)
The Pani at Chai Pani is both shockingly green and refreshingly balanced, with herbal and floral essences. Flavors of India lend acidity and rich contrast. A punch of cilantro imbues vegetal coolness (and the bright color). There is lime for zing, and bold heat from chili. It’s crisp and savory, with a little bit of spice to match Chai Pani’s street food. French joie de vivre comes by way of St. Germain liqueur. Prosecco bubbles carry the elderflower aroma to your nose. It’s absolutely thirst-quenching. (406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4030, chaipanidecatur.com)
Bar Americano’s Cosa Nostra is at once Italian and American. The unifying ingredient here is nocino, a black walnut liqueur made by an Italian living in Washington, D.C. It adds a rich complexity, almost a warm lusciousness, to American Wild Turkey rye. Alessio Vermouth Chinato swirls in with earthy notes of bark and bitter herbs for a drink best described as an Italian Manhattan. (56 E. Andrews Drive, Atlanta. 678-515-0697, 10apart.com/bar-americano)
Say ciao or konnichiwa to this potent potable high above Atlanta. The rooftop bar at Nine Mile Station created a riff on a Paper Plane, swapping out the usual bourbon for Japanese whisky, while adding layers with amari. In the Paper Crane, astringent Campari plays well with the citrusy notes in Montenegro. The golden Japanese dram, with delicate, floral qualities, is further rounded out with mint and cucumber. It’s a blend of unexpected ingredients — bitterness and zestiness in harmony. The Japanese refer to cranes as the “bird of happiness.” We agree. (675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 770-999-1532, 9milestation.com)
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