2. LIQUID CULTURE: Façade Comes Down
With more freedom to explore its own delicious idiosyncrasies, we’re seeing mixology branching out beyond the benchmark hot spots of yesteryear. 2011 Rising Star Mixologist Bobby Heugel is at the helm of one of our favorite frills-free spots, Anvil Bar & Refuge, a Houston bar with a serious emphasis on tequila, the craft of the cocktail, and the old school charms of the friendly bar atmosphere. Not that frills are de facto abandoned—freedom can mean adding more frills, as Julie Reiner does with her Hawaiian hometown homage Lani Kai, complete with palm fronds, bare woods, and an unapologetically tropical menu. We’re also seeing cocktail programs fit snugly into small, quirky restaurants—sharing space, character, and purpose. At The Bent Brick in Portland, Oregon, Mixologist Adam Robinson’s cocktail program mixes in step with the restaurant’s sustainable, local-only mantra: go-to ingredients like Italian bitters and Sherry vinegars are a no-no. And at the recently opened Twelve Mile Limit in New Orleans, T. Cole Newman is building a menu (including cupcakes, barbecue, and their feel-good ilk) around his high quality, low cost cocktails.