“We've come through the Dark Ages of the Cocktail," observes Gretchen Thomas, Director of Wine and Spirits for Barcelona and Bartaco.. "There was a time here when the spirit of choice was mainly Vodka, and the best we could do was flavor it.”
Though Connecticut may be a bit late to the party, the Craft Cocktail has finally, fully arrived. In fact, the drinks created at many local bars are as artful and artisanal as what's cooking in the kitchen.
Today’s barcraft is almost culinary … reflecting the way we now cook and dine: with fresh seasonal ingredients, locally sourced and often hand crafted. Re-mixes of the old classics are updated with super premium, small batched spirits and served with stunning visual presentations and precisely balanced flavor constructions.
“Cocktails have become part of the meal,” notes Jeff Marron, who heads up the beverage programs at Bill Taibe’s restaurants in Westport. They are enjoyed for flavor and complexity more than potency.
The much celebrated legacy drinks of the Prohibition Era were often filled with unreliable spirits that were masked by powerful mixers. And the boozy indulgences at Mid-century served as Mad Men escapes more than savored enjoyment. After Viet Nam, mixed drinks barely survived the counter cultural revolution. It took a new millennium to revive the cocktail’s pleasurable role in America’s drinking and dining.
Indeed, the eras of Gatsby, Draper and Joplin have long passed, and the Golden Age of Cocktails has come to the Gold Coast. So here’s our toast to the 10 top local Craft Cocktails… and the men and women who are raising the bar. Cheers!