Restaurant: Caswell Restaurant Group, Newburyport, MA
Creator: Brett Henderson
Inspiration: “I wanted to give a little bit of everything you taste and feel—tart, sweet, smoky, savory, effervescent, sour—on your tongue. Shrubs can really elevate how drinkers experience these senses.”
Key Ingredients: Milagro Silver, Aperol, smoked strawberry/rhubarb shrub, fresh squeezed lemon, thyme simple syrup and Pol Roger Champagne.
What the Judges Said: Here’s another cocktail where the creator—Henderson—took great care and time to produce something special. In this case, the special comes from the shrub, which provides a sweet, sour and smoky kick. Not many would take the time to smoke the rhubarb, macerate it for two days and then store it a refrigerator for a week after it’s been combined with champagne vinegar. A similar process is done for the strawberries, minus the smoke. This kind of attention to detail—including a Champagne topper—takes us back to the Raymond Chandler quote on the opening page; it’s a wonderful feeling when a bartender cares enough to take his or her time.