1. Spritz is it
It’s the year of bubbly cocktails (think sparkling wine), which means all hail the alcoholic spritzer. Also on trend right now is the bitter spritz – not just the classic aperol (shown below from Buckley’s, 801 N. Cass St.) but amaro and Campari. Spritzers are supremely refreshing, so when that dew point climbs, chug away!
2. Rise of the Canned (or Bottled) Cocktail
Pour-ready cocktails – like the bottled Manhattans and old fashioneds from MKE-based SoulBoxer – might be the best thing to happen to drinking since, well, happy hour was invented. Premium ingredients have yielded premium beverages. Another one to try: Central Standard’s new Cherry Vodka Mule, made with the distiller’s Door County Cherry Vodka, ginger and lime juice. (thecentralstandard.com)
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3. The ‘Daiq’ Is Back
Oh, the daiquiri, a cocktail often defined (maligned?) as just a boozy slushie. With new bars devoted to the drink trending in MKE (e.g., Daq Shack, 4191 N. Green Bay Ave.), we wanted to pay homage to the original, which is definitely not just an icy road to getting hammered! The refined classic has three ingredients (rum, lime juice and simple syrup), shaken, strained and ready for slow savoring.
4. Go Au Naturel
Natural wine is basically additive-free, fermented juice from grapes grown without chemicals. Because of that, it might be cloudy and kind of funky tasting. Sommelier Nate Norfolk calls the flavor profile unique, “with an oxidated quality reminiscent of sherry. In small amounts, it can be crazy fruity.” Norfolk, director of wine & spirits at Ray’s, says these wines tend to be lower in alcohol and tannins and often pair well with food. Norfolk recs this natural wine as a starter: Meinklang Vineyards’ Burgenland White, a blend of grüner veltliner, welschriesling and muskat grapes ($18 at Ray’s, rayswine.com).
The spirit distilled from the agave plant has been in fashion for years – but really, does a margarita ever go out of style? Tart and tingly, here’s a marg to try: The International ($13), made with Pasote Blanco Tequila, dry Curaçao, fresh lime and agave syrup. Sip it at the bar at Scout Wine Merchants. (4512 N. Oakland Ave.)