Drinks | 100 best things we ate and drank in 2012

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  • Photograph: Christian Seel

    Midnight Mary #2 at the Aviary
    The first cocktail Charles Joly added to the Aviary�s menu was modern in form (a mix of tomato/aquavit/Benedictine/lime/galangal poured over a vaporous mound of nitrogen-frozen basil foam), but classically summer in taste.

  • Photograph: Nick Murway

    Aviation Jell-O shot at the Charleston
    Annemarie Sagoi made a name for herself this year as the �Jell-O-shot girl� at the Charleston, but she�s hardly the picture of a scantily clad airhead doling out test tubes of J�ger on Division Street. Her concoctions lean classic, as in turning gin, Luxardo maraschino, cr�me de violette and lemon into a solid-state slurper.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Fresh-roasted coffee at Den Den
    To-go cups don�t exist at this Eritrean eatery, where Ilen Mezengi performs the duty of traditional coffee service: toasting raw Ethiopian beans before your eyes, grinding them by hand and adding steaming water for one of the freshest brews around.

  • Photograph: Jessica Zerby

    Big Hugs from Half Acre Beer Company
    Even stout superfans struggle with sucking down thick, creamy, inky-black Imperial stouts in summer, but come cooler weather, there are few better beers to drink. Hence, Half Acre limits this big badass to holiday availability (look for it by December 15), slapping on oddly festive labels such as a gigantic cat ravaging the North Pole. Don�t think about it: Just drink it.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Heirloom from Illinois Sparkling Co.
    One sip of this sparkling dry ros� from winemaker Mark Wenzel (also of August Hill Winery), and you�ll quit ragging on Midwestern-made vino.

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    Bilberry Black Hearts gin from Journeyman Distillery
    Local booze is the new �put a bird on it.� But distiller Bill Welter is clearly in it out of passion�not trendiness�as evidenced by this distinctive gin, in which the subtle licorice flavor of bilberries (a wild cousin to the blueberry) tempers gin�s typical juniper profile.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Hot chocolate at Katherine Anne Confections
    Okay, $7 for one cup of hot chocolate is ridiculous. But not when you think about the fact that it contains nearly as much chocolate as a half-pound box of truffles, and it�s so thick and intense that you have to share it with a friend.

  • Photograph: Brendan Lekan

    Most from Prima Cider
    The Long Grove-based Bertsche family makes cider the only way they know how: from fresh-pressed heirloom apples fermented into dry farmhouse cider that pairs well with pretty much anything you can eat.

  • Photograph: Martha Williams

    Negroni sbagliato at RPM Italian
    RPM�s bartenders do cocktail expert Paul McGee�s drinks justice, particularly a classic variation on a Negroni, which lightens and brightens the sipper with the addition of prosecco.

  • Photograph: Erica Gannett

    Neo Negroni at Scofflaw
    Danny Shapiro�s adaptation of this classic cocktail (traditionally equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari) is like a Negroni on steroids: He subs Byrrh Grand Quinquina (a wine-based aperitif) for vermouth to enhance the drink�s bitterness, ditches Campari for less cloying Luxardo Bitter and (this might be the kicker) doubles up on the usual amount of gin.

  • Photograph: Nicole Radja

    Green Hornet at Trenchermen
    Tona Palomino is a cocktail minimalist, a guy more interested in teasing out a single clean flavor than in the pageantry of garnishes and billion-ingredient drinks. Case in point: the power of mere celery juice in this riff on a gin and tonic.

  • Photograph: Jessica Zerby

    Verdita at the Whistler
    Unlike your typical chaser, this fiery juice (a blend of cilantro, mint, pineapple, lime, jalape�os and habanero peppers) doesn�t so much erase the taste of tequila as enrich it. Owner Billy Helmkamp recommends 100-proof Don Fulano Silver as a pairing.

  • Zombie Dust from Three Floyds Brewing Co.
    Between San Pellegrino Pompelmo and Stiegl Radler, this has been a bomb year for grapefruit lovers. Add to those two this instantly iconic pale ale, brewed in Munster, Indiana. It�s hoppy, easy to drink and blessed with the gentle bitterness and fruitiness of our beloved grapefruit.

Photograph: Christian Seel

Midnight Mary #2 at the Aviary
The first cocktail Charles Joly added to the Aviary�s menu was modern in form (a mix of tomato/aquavit/Benedictine/lime/galangal poured over a vaporous mound of nitrogen-frozen basil foam), but classically summer in taste.


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