Is there any doubt that we are living in a new golden age of cocktails? Not to us — not after poring over the flood of entries for this year’s Best Cocktails in America contest. We were overwhelmed by the response to our call for entries. We wound up perusing hundreds of beautiful, inspiring drinks that showcased the creativity of the nation’s bartenders and restaurateurs. We did away with a couple of categories this year: global cocktails and martinis. These days drink makers are drawing inspiration from the entire planet as a matter of course — they’re all global.
When it comes to Martinis, well, to purists, a Martini is gin and a little vermouth, stirred with ice (not shaken, which is why 007 specified that he wanted his made differently) and served neat with olives. It is nothing else. If you use vodka, it’s a vodka Martini. If you use cocktail onions, it’s a Gibson. But in common parlance, a martini is any drink served in a martini glass. We split the difference and merged them with the other drinks. We did add a new category, however: low-alcohol cocktails.
These drinks based on beer, wine, sake, soju and liqueurs are becoming increasingly popular among customers — who can enjoy more than one and still drive home legally — and operators, who can sell more than one without liability risks. They’re also versatile, food-friendly and refreshing. And now, please enjoy this year’s winners of the Best Cocktails in America contest.