Whether you're at the bar, in the living room or dressed up like Napoleon and swinging a sword, these eight drinks will amp up your next cocktail hour.
This drink puts a Portland foodie spin on the 1990s ski-lodge phenomenon of doing vodka shots from a carved block of ice. Start with one man-sized shank bone, roasted and cracked lengthwise to expose all that delicious, hot, savory marrow. After you’re done eating, wash it all down by shooting your favorite liquor or fortified wine down the shaft of the bone. Cream Sherry seems to be the shot of choice for this one, with tequila and Madeira getting nods as well.
Where to find it: Metrovino in Portland, L'Etoile in Madison, Wisc., Prime Meats in Brooklyn and anywhere else hipster foodies congregate.
Gin and Tonic from Space
Chefs Grant Achatz and Craig Schoettler opened a mixologist's playground in Chicago last year called The Aviary, and that's where you'll find this "gin and tonic." The drink mixes juniper gin, yellow chartreuse and almost 100 "cucumber alginate encapsulations." (“Cucumber balls,” for the layman.) The end result is a refreshing gin and tonic that looks like the lava lamp you had in your dorm room freshman year.
Where to find it: The Aviary in Chicago
Champagne gets its pop from a secondary fermentation: yeast cells digest sugars inside the bottles, creating both bubbles and byproducts. Those byproducts, called "lees," are removed in a process called disgorgement in 99.9 percent of all sparkling wine. Not the case for Movia Puro, a rare sparkler from Slovenia.
Owner and winemaker Ales Kristancic bottles Puro lees and all, adding complexity to both the wine and the process of opening it. The bottle should be set to rest upside down for at least 24 hours prior to opening, so that all the lees rest at the base of the cork. The neck of the bottle is then submerged in water and the cork removed, thrusting the cloud of lees into the water, calling to mind the mating rituals of any number of sea creatures.
Where to find it: Italian Wine Merchants, Morrell, Astor, Chelsea Wine Vault
Pay tribute to the days of Napoleon by putting down the corkscrew and picking up a sword. It’s time to chop your Champagne bottle open. What looks and sounds rather dangerous is actually not terribly difficult, provided you don’t have too many glasses of champers before you attempt this stunt.
The "sword" used for sabering Champagne is actually quite dull, as sabering is more hammering than cutting. The flat, dull side of a large, heavy chef's knife works well. Take a chilled, well-rested bottle of Champagne and remove the foil from the neck of the bottle and the cage. The seam that runs down the bottle's neck is its weakest point, and that's where you'll want to direct the strike, using the bottleneck as a guide and sliding the blade straight up the neck into the lip of the bottle. The expelled cork, complete with the intact ring of glass hugging, makes a lovely gift for any young lady impressed by your sword play.
Where to find it: anywhere chivalry is not dead
It only makes sense that in a party town like New Orleans, even the finer dining establishments cap off a fancy meal with a burst of flames. The Big Easy’s grand tradition involves a complicated and slightly dangerous process. While orange liqueur and brandy heat in a saucepan with sugar and a cinnamon stick, the rinds of a lemon and an orange—each peeled into one long inch-wide strip—are studded with cloves. After a few minutes, the citrus peels are soaked in the mixture, set ablaze and held aloft, creating a two-foot flaming tower. As dinner guests burst into applause, hot coffee extinguishes the flames, and the Cafe Brulot is served.
Where to find it: Antoine's, Arnaud’s and Galatoire’s are the undisputed Brulot kings of New Orleans, but you may find it served seasonally at many old school New Orleans dining institutions
The Green Fairy
A favorite of Hemingway, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec, the green fairy has a reputation for hallucinogenic trips. But even though the drink was banned in the states from 1915 to 2007, don’t be afraid; it's basically a gin-like spirit flavored with wormwood, anise and fennel.
The classic absinthe cocktail starts with a small glass of absinthe. A slotted absinthe spoon is placed over the glass with a sugar cube on top as ice water is dripped over the cube to dilute to taste. Of course, new-age Bohemian hipsters have given the drink a new spin: The Bohemian Method features an alcohol-soaked sugar cube set atop the slotted spoon, set aflame and then dropped into the straight absinthe, which alights in turn. A shot of ice water is then tossed in to douse the flame.
Where to find it: your favorite high-end neighborhood cocktail lounge
Alginate encapsulator and rotary evaporator on the fritz? The B-52 is an easy-to-make cocktail for the home molecular mixologist. Begin with a simple syrup gel by mixing caster sugar (extra-fine granulated sugar) and gelatin with hot water and blending with a hand mixer. Add some of the simple syrup gelatin to one shot each of Bailey's Irish Cream, a dark coffee liqueur and your choice of light citrus-based liqueur. The gelatinized shots are added to a glass one at a time, with each layer spending an hour in the fridge before the next is added, until the B-52's three chilled ingredients are each suspended in the glass like Jell-O. If this isn’t extreme enough for you, don’t worry; as with most of the drinks on this list, there’s a variation of the B-52 that involves lighting the concoction on fire.
Where to find it: you can make this one from scratch at home after getting all of the ingredients you'll need here: http://www.molecule-r.com/
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Flaming Doctor Pepper
This Texas classic lights up the bar with a flaming shot of Amaretto topped with Bacardi 151 or Everclear. (Fans of "The Simpsons" may recognize it as the inspiration for the Flaming Homer/Moe.) Fill a pint glass about half-full with lager or another light-to-medium-weight beer. Fill a shot glass three-quarters full with Amaretto, top it with 151, set it on fire, drop the flaming shot into the beer and knock it back. The drink earned its name because the ingredients combine to taste like a 100-proof version of the famous soft drink.
Where to find it: dive bars and frat houses, coast-to-coast