With the proliferation of celebrity chefs and colossally hyped restaurants, modern diners have a lot on their plates. Here, we talk to a top toque on the verge of second-chance stardom, learn what Parisians like to have for dessert, and generally find out what's on the menu in 2013.
Vinegar-based fruit syrups that date back to colonial America, shrubs play into the DIY “farm-to-bar” concept cropping up on cocktail menus today. Bartenders often switch them in for citrus juices when balancing a complex cocktail.
The pro’s take: “We’ve come a long way from the days of the artificial, technicolor, super-sweet mixer,” says Jessica Woods, bar manager at Room 11 in Washington, D.C. “Guests are increasingly requesting savory flavors in their drinks.”
Flavor Options: All kinds, from strawberry habañero to pineapple rosemary to apple honey, all with subtle vinegary undertones.
Plays well with: Bourbon, gin, artisanal bitters.
This electric-blue liqueur—made with the dried peel of laraha fruit grown on island of Curaçao—has been around since the 19th century, but really hit its stride during the tiki craze of the 1950s. The recent resurgence of tiki bars (a possible reaction to the oft-pretentious craft cocktail movement) means blue Curaçao’s time has come around again.
The pro’s take: Drinks made with blue Curaçao are often about nostalgia, says Topher Mikels, general manager of New York’s Réunion Surf Bar. The tropical flavor fosters a sense of escapism, so customers can pretend they’re in, say, Curaçao, even if it’s 15 degrees outside.
Flavor Options: Just orange … but you’d never guess from the color.
Plays well with: Rum, umbrellas, flamingo swizzle sticks.
Blue Curaçao gets points for not taking itself too seriously, but next to the many flavor options and historical staying power of shrubs, it (almost) pales in comparison.