Nutmeg and the baking-spice notes of the Czech herbal digestif Becherovka complement each other in a 300-plus-year-old recipe for a stomachic milk punch. Lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels infuse a mixture of rye, cognac, and applejack to which lemon juice, sugar, and scalded milk are added. The milk curdles, and all but a few of the solids are strained out to produce a smooth, refreshing, shelf-stable drink with pleasing texture and body.
The skewered, pickled flower buds of the caper bush provide the ideal briny endnote to a drink that combines the sweetness of Samos muscat, the grassiness of Salers Apertif gentiane liqueur, and the long-lingering, spicy smokiness of Mezcalero #4 mezcal. The ingredients roll across the palate like a cloudburst followed by a long, hot desert wind.
Griffin Elliot, Scofflaw
Nine out of ten bartenders prefer the bitter, boozy Italian bitter Fernet Branca for clearing out the cobwebs at the end of a long shift. Elliot drapes its naked aggression in a tall, cool negligee of egg white, lime juice, raspberry syrup, and apricot liqueur.
Old Salt No. 2
Eric Henry, the Whistler
The Old Salt is a fine rye whiskey drink on the Whistler's regular menu, but its off-the-books forefather is splendiferous, made from the moonless union of Lemon Hart 151 Overproof Demerara and Smith & Cross Jamaican rums, along with burnt sugar syrup and a salt-and-granulated-honey tincture that makes it taste like a smooth, slow-melting salted caramel. Stirred rum drinks don't sell well on paper, so you have to know to ask for it.
The mysterious, fragrant, and expensive sperm whale intestinal secretion known as ambergris has a long history in the cocktail arts. Bachman says it makes the Cocktail one of his more difficult drinks to execute. Its sweetish, marine aroma becomes intense when heated during the creation of the palm sugar syrup that sweetens the drink (the ambergris perfumes the syrup). And when it's mixed with malted rye and Spanish brandy, it takes a good 45 seconds of stirring to bring the drink into proper balance: a smooth, boozy, subtly floral tipple.
Hot Butter Rum
Gregg Buttera and Stephen Cole, Barrelhouse Flat
Cole wanted a hot drink that wouldn't melt the butter or lose temperature because of it. So Buttera, drawing on skills learned at the Aviary, stabilized cream and butter with carrageenan into a stiff foam that's piped atop cinnamon-syrup-sweetened Appleton VX and Lemon Hart 151 rums as a one-two punch for those who like to drink their dessert.
Served in a narrow coupe, this cool, clear sipper is built on the vegetal Brazilian sugarcane spirit cachaca and tamed by Manzanilla sherry, coconut liqueur, and curry bitters for a finish that tastes like distilled massaman curry.
Savannah Witmer, Boka
A deposit of orange Aperol rests at the bottom of the collins glass like a sunrise. It's the bitter reward for sipping through the cloud of egg white foam, grapefruit-bittered gin, and jasmine-agave syrup. For instant gratification ask for a straw to stir things up.