It is said that we eat with our eyes first. The same is true of cocktails, which we drink in long before the glass approaches our lips. Smart mixologists are raising the bar when it comes to local libations by transforming their drink recipes into modern art through the use of unique spirits, bold colors, and avant-garde garnish. Here are four that beg to be seen well before they are sipped.
100 Years, 100 More
Grey Hen Rx is an immersible adventure through the turn-of-the-century-inspired apothecary of Emilie Grey, the cocktail bar’s fictional owner made immortal by a secret elixir. Among its signature “cure-all” offerings, 100 Years, 100 More is inspired by this immortality and made with Grand Marnier 100-year Cuvee, Lustau East India Sherry, John Taylor Falernum, Tempus Fugit Banana, lemongrass tincture, and more before being strained into an ostrich egg, secured in a bird cage, and served with a touch of smoke.$64 at GreyHenRX.com
Desiré Street Market
Like Grey Hen, Platform 18 is experiential in nature, housed in 36 seat Presidential Pullman-inspired train car that uses special effects to transport guests through the bayous of Louisiana. Desiré Street Market is an homage to the famed fruit market in New Orleans. In it, lemon juice, blueberry syrup, cacao-washed apple brandy, and rye whiskey collide with Krogstadt Aquavit, sherry, and Crème de Noyaux, all in a tall glass topped with fruit feather, carraway powder, edible flowers, and thyme. $19 at CenturyGrandPHX.com
Fiore Di Vitae
The Fiore Di Vitae, which means flower of life in Italian, is meant to elicit visions of fields of lavender. Bar lead Holly Achs at The Americano got the idea to create a lavender-based recipe after experimenting with liqueur made from the flower and Ron Colón Salvadoreño Coffee Infused Rum. To make it, coffee rum and lavender liqueur are combined in a shaker with pomegranate liqueur, white rum, Maleza Flores Bitters, and Primitivo syrup (made by reducing the Italian Zinfandel with sugar). The contents are strained into a tall rocks glass that has been texturized with circles of sugar. $17 at TheAmericanoRestaurant.com
With celebrity chef Scott Conant in the kitchen, the drink menu at Mora Italian needs to always be ready for its close-up, as well. With attention-grabbing options like this, clearly, the mixology team is up to the task. Named for Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince by the Swifties on staff, this refreshing riff is a mix of Ketel One Grapefruit Botanical, grappa, Velvet Falernum, and lemon with ice, and it is topped with Prosecco, San Pellegrino Pompelmo, and copious floral garnishes. $15 at MoraItalian.com