Chefs aren’t the only epicurean experts who know their way around the kitchen. Bartenders also are turning to the pantry and spice rack for inspiration—a growing trend that, in some quarters, is pushing the Cosmopolitan to the back burner. Look no further than bar menus in and around town, where featured cocktail recipes often include a mix of herbs and spices.
At Sweetwater Bar & Grill (1507 S. Federal Highway, 561/509-9277) in Boynton Beach, the cocktail menu rivals most restaurant menus when it comes to creativity. Try the Lonsdale with botanical gin, local honey, basil and lemon; or the Death & Taxes with pine liqueur, elderflower and rooibos tea-infused gin. Each sip leaves you wondering how so many flavors made it into one glass.
Mojitos, traditionally made with muddled mint, remain a popular herbaceous cocktail, and local mixologists are raising the bar with added ingredients. Dada (52 N. Swinton Ave., 561/330-3232) in Delray has one of the most extensive Mojito menus around, with offerings from raspberry to ginger to melon. The sugar cane stir is an added bonus.
Also in Delray, Cabana el Rey (105 E. Atlantic Ave., 561/274-9090) features a passion fruit Caipirinha that’s as packed with mint and basil as a good pesto. Tanzy (301 Plaza Real, 561/922-6699) at Mizner Park has its own version of the Mojito with its Pestatos. The blend of basil, mint and coriander (sans the alcohol, of course) is nearly as healthy as a salad.
The herbaceous drink trend doesn’t have to stop at the local bar. Adding flavored bitters and a splash of soda at home to an aperitif wine such as Lillet is simple yet sophisticated. Or, freshen up that Cosmo with a sprig of thyme; the flavors will awaken, much like adding fresh basil to your favorite jar of marinara.
Hilary Hauser is contributing blogs to the “Dining” section of bocamag.com as part of a required externship at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami.