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Cheers to the New Year!

Emily George, Lindey’s

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I believe that highballs are coming back in a big way. The concept is simple: spirit and mixer. There’s not much more to it. There aren’t fancy ingredients, obscure syrups, difficult-to-manufacture ingredients, hard-to-locate cordials. It’s a spirit and a mixer. Think of the classics like the Cuba Libre (rum and coke), the Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice), the Dark ‘N’ Stormy (rum and ginger beer), or the Cape Codder (vodka and cranberry). They’re simple, straightforward, and delicious—all great things for a cocktail. Plus, there’s still room for the bartender to make very specific selections and create a drink they can be proud of. Choosing a specific vodka and fresh-pressed cranberry juice or selecting any spirit with a locally produced soda is certainly a way to elevate a highball without creating something that can’t be appreciated by the general public.

Rebecca Monday, Curio at Harvest

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Pretention = OUT. Having a very well-made cocktail for you and having fun at the bar = IN. Example: seeing boilermakers at cocktail bars (the shot and a beer combo traditionally reserved for the dives). You’ll see bartenders pairing combos like Fernet Branca with a porter—sounds like mint chocolate chip if you ask me. Also, bartenders recreating retro drinks with a craft twist. Instead of declining to make you a Long Island iced tea, grasshopper, White Russian, or a cosmo, now watch the knowledgeable bartenders have fun and make their version(s).

Chris Manis, Mouton

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Split-base recipes have been popular in the tiki scene for a long time, where many of the drinks contain multiple rums, but they are becoming increasingly common all across the board. It’s not as easy to order based on your spirit of choice, with many drinks utilizing more than one main component. Is it a bourbon drink, or a rum drink, or a rye drink, or a tequila drink, or a mezcal drink? Who cares, as long as it tastes great.

Josh Rice, Bodega/Curio

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Fortified wines such as Sherry, Madeira, and port are going to take on a bigger role in cocktails. In the ’90s, Frasier and Niles Crane were way ahead of their time by drinking fortified wines. Bartenders have picked up on their imbibing of them and incorporated it into the cocktails they create. We are going to see Madeira replacing sweet vermouth, port used as a sweetener, and Sherry used as both a main ingredient and a modifying ingredient. They make delicious additions to a bartender’s recipe book.

Sean Ward, Giuseppe’s Ritrovo

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Over the years it seems like whatever is popping off in the larger markets floats downstream to Columbus within a year or so, so I see a lot of positive things coming our way. First and foremost, the idea and concept of streamlining your cocktail program. The practice of mastering the world’s coolest and most imaginative cocktails will lead to new and old spots focusing on doing a limited amount of exciting and reputable things really, really well. This, I hope, will stem from top to bottom—concept to execution, idea to implementation. It is here already in a very small segment of the market, but look for that to become mainstream. Whether you are a strictly world-class cocktail house with a streamlined process to produce exotic and inventive cocktails in a timely and professional atmosphere, or you are a microbrew tasting room featuring only the emerging beers from all over Ohio, to even a Latin American restaurant only featuring an agave-based spirits program, this will be the future. Gone are the days of pleasing everyone under one roof.

For more about cocktails from these bartenders and others, check out the latest edition of Stock & Barrel, (614)’s quarterly food and drink publication, on stands now and at 614columbus.com.

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