February might as well be called Valentine month. Everyone, especially bars and restaurants, spend the weeks leading up to it promoting the holiday. But we all benefit, with the onslaught of sexy cocktails featuring spicy, exotic flavors and/or rich chocolate, as well as unique, indulgent variations of classics to make us fall in love all over again. Here are the new cocktails to get you in the mood this month.
1. Honey Nut Cereal Milk and Bourbon (Nighthawk, Los Angeles)
At the new breakfast-themed bar, bartender Giovanni Martinez infuses milk with Honey Nut cereal a la Momofuku and spikes it with bourbon. The result is 12 ice-cold ounces of a decadent cocktail that celebrates the best part of eating breakfast cereal.
One sip of Down in the Kokomo transports its drinker to a tropical island courtesy of the Thai ice tea–infused Spanish brandy that was aged in sherry casks. The El Dorado 15 Year brings in a deep vanilla richness, while bitter orange and curry leaf spice round things out.
This reinterpretation of the Poinsettia Champagne cocktail is made with heirloom cranberry simple syrup, Combier orange liqueur, Lillet Blanc and sparkling wine. It’s then adorned with cranberry lime pearls (cranberries, lime juice, simple syrup and agar agar) that rest at the bottom of the glass.
The Macadamia Phosphate is a Tiki-style cocktail minus the citrus. Beverage Director Nick Meyer instead used the natural acidity of the dry vermouth and acid phosphate to balance out the sweetness of the house-made macadamia orgeat. Novo Fogo cachaça adds grassiness, while the Denizen 8 Year lends it some body and dryness. It’s like no Tiki drink you’ve ever had.
The Crossbow Enthusiast, a winterized gin Old Fashioned, is made with mulled wine syrup that brings the richness of a cabernet sauvignon paired with baking spices, while the East India Solera sherry keeps it dry. The Weatherby’s Bolivian Cola bitters add a sarsparilla note that ties all the warm flavors together.
Eamon Rockey’s Barley Legal evokes hot buttered steel-cut oats cereal on a cold morning. The maltiness of the blended scotch in this winter cocktail is deepened with toasted barley. Add in raw brown sugar, raisiny Moscatel sherry, Earl Grey tea and a thick pad of butter for those familiar cozy breakfast flavors.
Country Lovin’ is cornbread in a cocktail glass. House-made honey-corn syrup brings out the nuances of sweet corn, rounding it out with Giffard Vanille de Madagascar, while the pepper-butter-washed corn whiskey emulates that decadent butter spread. It’s a flip that’s both rich and refreshing.
Only legendary rock band Journey could inspire this unusual concoction in which Ricard Anisette serves as the base backed up with Fino sherry, Grand Marnier and black tea syrup. “It tastes like Journey sounds,” says bar manager Daniel Neff. “Robust and exotic, chocolate and anise are prominent, with hints of funk.”
What was originally intended as a tribute to France showcasing Armagnac and Bigallet China-China Amer liqueur turned into a delicious international celebration. A Spanish madeira improved the cocktail immensely, while a beer syrup made with a limited-edition Swiss saison reduction colored the cocktail with rustic, funky flavors and a unique sour taste.
Think hot Sazerac. This Hot Toddy–style cocktail is that New Orleans classic reimagined, infusing Old Overholt rye with star anise for that hint of absinthe and mixing it with brown sugar syrup and cream. The decadent pièce de résistance is the Peychaud’s whipped cream and fennel pizzelle garnish.