Today in the New York Post, the subject of silly cocktails is broached. It’s no secret that mixologists are concocting increasingly outlandish creations, but just how far is too far when it comes to potable experimentation?
For Dale DeGroff, who is often credited with pioneering the current cocktail renaissance, bacon is where the line should be drawn. He cites fat washing, the process by which meaty flavors are infused into a spirit, as an example of kids behind the bar these days getting carried away. At NYC’s Caffe Falai, one patron finds the meticulous application of squid ink to his glass to be more than he can stomach. Johnny Swet of Hotel Griffou recoils at the idea of drinking anything flavored with garlicky ramps. Personally, I’m not so sure ambergris, a.k.a. clotted sperm whale cholesterol—which so many young cocktailians got so excited about last year—is something I want swimming in my punch. But that’s just me.
When it comes to intrepid mad bar scientists, however, I say, go nuts. (Brazil nut–infused Old Fashioned, perhaps?). Extremists are always needed to further any trend or movement. And no one is forcing you to drink fishy cocktails. Some establishments provide a culinary experience that’s meant to be just that: an experience. Others make fodder for satisfying the soul. A squid ink–and-spinach martini might not hit the spot, but perhaps it brings a new flavor element to the glass you don’t often find —namely, umami. And it may open imbibers’ palate to that taste, just as we’ve all fallen so hard for bitter drinks. There are plenty of bars these days that serve a solid Manhattan or Margarita. For when we’re feeling adventurous, or just a little silly, it’s nice to know there are bartenders out there willing to humor us.
When it comes to creative bartending, how far is too far? And what’s the craziest cocktail you’ve ever had? Belly up to the comments.