In light of the recent events of 2016, starting 2017 off sans alcohol seems absurd. Sure, cutting back makes sense, but a dry January? Ha! Well, in the spirit of a new month and year, a little change is in order, like a cocktail that’s lower in alcohol but still packs the proverbial punch. Look for winter spritzs, warm punches and a lot of fortified wine. Check out these nine low-ABV cocktails, all found on bar menus now, in a city near you.
Can’t make it to any of the bars serving these great low-ABV drinks? Try making the Grasshopper at home.
Made with Amaro Meletti, amaretto liqueur, crème de mure, lime cordial and seltzer, this low-proof cocktail is one of a few served at this subterranean Greenwich Village cocktail den. Amaro Meletti is an excellent digestif, but this drink is just right any time.
The creation of Le Farfalle bartender and partner Brad Goocher, the Stop Short is a combination of Cynar, Cocchi Americano aperitivo, lemon juice and simple syrup. He muddles two orange wedges in a shaker tin, adds the rest and shakes and pours it into an ice-filled highball glass, then tops the drink with soda and garnishes it with an orange half moon.
A fitting drink for the south, the Partisan is made with Cathead pecan vodka, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, lime and turbinado squash syrup. Bartender Brandy Cross’ cocktail is sweet but well-balanced and pretty to boot.
At the new East Village Vietnamese eatery, it’s not all banana leaves and banh mi. Mixologist Tom Richter has created an array of cocktails made with sherry, beer, wine and sake. The Police Action is notable addition to the list, made with blueberry wine cordial, shochu, blueberries, lime, mint and sparkling sake.
At Jazz, TX, a live music venue in San Antonio, bar manager Derik Cortez has a drink menu that’s as varied as the featured music (jazz, blues, big band, Texas swing, salsa, conjunto and Americana). The Ghost of Cape Aperitif is made with Capertif (a sweet wine similar to Lillet Blanc), Peychaud’s bitters and cava. Cortez tops the drink with an herbal foam (the base of which is made with steeped butterfly pea tea and Earl Grey tea plus juniper berries and thyme) and an orange peel for garnish.
6. Belcampo Spritz (Belcampo, Santa Monica, Calif.)
(image: Lauren di Matteo)
Los Angeles barman Josh Goldman may have had Angelenos in mind when coming up with this low-proof libation that’s friendly for year-round days of alfresco drinking. The namesake spritz is made with amber vermouth, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, amontillado sherry, sparkling wine and soda water.
Tacos and bourbon may be Big Star’s specialties, but this cocktail, created by bartender Laurent Lebec, is a standout. Sweet, tart and bubbly, it’s made with Corazón tequila reposado, house chai and ginger syrup, and fresh lime juice. It’s topped off with Ballast Point Brewing Company’s amber ale and garnished with a lime wheel.
On The Wild Son’s drink menu, filled with low-ABV drinks, it feels appropriate to opt for a warm drink this time of year, and Penn’s Port Punch is where it’s at. It’s made with Lustau East India solera sherry, fino sherry, apple cider vinegar and demerara sugar infused with allspice and topped with nutmeg. The bar team recommends making a hot batch and serving it out of a Crock-Pot for parties.
As fitting for mid-February as it is for early November, this nod to the start of winter is a creation of Acorn’s co-owner and beverage director, Bryan Dayton. He uses St. George Bruto Americano aperitivo, Aperol, Punt e Mes and orange bitters to create this toasty drink that’ll warm anyone up fast.