Splendor in the Glass
Tired of the overplayed trendy drinks? Area bartenders pour it on straight with their recommendations for getting the most enjoyment out of each sip.
Have you ever had a night out when you didn’t know what to order? Perhaps you weren’t sure what sounded good in the moment or didn’t want to appear too trendy.
Or perhaps you were in the latest hot spot and were worried about being judged? Don’t worry; most of the time, your bartender is more interested in making something that you like, but if you have a refined and classic taste, they can’t help but be a touch impressed.
This month, Preview checked in with a half dozen bartenders around town to get their take on what the most overrated and underrated cocktails are, so that next time you go out, you’ll be able to sound (and drink) like a seasoned professional.
Bartender: Shannon Greenberg | Albert G’s
Overrated: There are the usual suspects, like the LIT (Long Island Iced Tea) — if you’re drinking that, you’re only trying to do one thing and that’s get intoxicated. I think mostly, though, it’s taking a great whiskey or bourbon and mixing it with anything, especially Coke. That just ruins it and doesn’t let you develop a taste for it.
Underrated: Granted, we specialize in whiskeys, but I think drinking a simple bourbon or scotch on the rocks. There is a tasting process to it that most people just don’t understand. Mostly, though, people just have to learn what they like and how they like to drink things.
Bartender: Scott Moore | Hey Mambo
Overrated: For me, it would be shots. They’re great when you’re 21 and just trying to get drunk, but now it’s just a waste of good alcohol if you don’t get to taste and enjoy it.
Underrated: I think just a simple Crown and Coke — or up it to a Woodford Reserve. Even a good vodka with a twist, just something simple.
Bartender: Elise Carroll | Inner Circle Vodka Bar
Overrated: Take your pick: LIT, Adios MF, Liquid Marijuana, or a Grateful Dead. They’re all overrated and ridiculous. Any time you mix four liquors and that much sweet, you’re just looking for a hangover.
Underrated: A simple Vodka Press is always delicious and refreshing, and with our infusions you have an almost unlimited number of ways you can change it up. It’s a simple drink, but you can change it to make it taste any way you want. Most people just don’t realize that. You can even change the liquor and it’s still delicious.
Bartender: George Miyazato | In the Raw on the Hill
Overrated: Here, it’s probably the Flirtini, because it’s super sweet and artificial. It’s our most popular drink, but all you’re really tasting is juice.
Underrated: The Cosmopolitan or an Old Fashioned, because you can actually taste the alcohol and it all hinges on what brand you use, because you can taste the difference.
General Manager: Dustin Saied | PRHYME
Overrated: Right now, it’s the Moscow Mule. It’s just vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer, which are all good on their own, but it’s kind of a gimmick at this point. It’s really about being served in a copper mug, which doesn’t actually affect the drink at all.
Underrated: A classic daiquiri. It’s just rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, but it’s the perfect amount of liquor, tart, and sweet. It’s simple to make, yet you can change it up in all kinds of different ways.
Bartender: Ryan Baisden | Zin and Unicorn Club
Overrated: Right now, since Mad Men came out, it’s the Old Fashioned. Don Draper ordered them, so it’s seen as something cool and people want it without knowing what it is. They think they’re ordering some sweet drink, then are surprised because it’s mostly whiskey.
Underrated: I love a good Manhattan, if it’s made right. It’s a classic drink, but if you make it wrong, it can be disgusting.
Bartender: Jamie Jennings | Hodges Bend
Overrated: The LIT is overplayed and so is the Moscow Mule — not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s just been played out. The only thing I don’t enjoy making is a vodka and water. There’s no point. It’s just a vehicle to get it down and get drunk. Using soda, tonic, or just about anything else enhances the flavor instead of covering it up.
Underrated: Maybe a gin and tonic. We have our own, housemade quinine, which really draws the flavor out. Or maybe a good gin martini, when it’s made correctly. We keep our vermouth fresh and treat it like our produce. So yes, a gin martini is always a good go-to when I start my night.
In the end, it’s really all about knowing what you like, but a good rule of thumb is: keep it simple. Or if you’re not sure, just tell your bartender what you like and what you’re looking for, and they’ll usually point you in the right direction.
We told Jennings at Hodges Bend that we liked bourbon and were looking for something citrusy and refreshing. His answer: the Horse’s Neck. It’s a classic cocktail made with whiskey, lemon juice, bitters and ginger beer. It was crisp, refreshing, and right on the mark.
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