Discover a world of delectable craft cocktails
Assuming you’ve been of legal drinking age for at least a decade, and have enjoyed a cocktail or two on multiple occasions during this time, you will have noticed that the selection of spirits in both bars and restaurants has been getting considerably larger and more diverse. While some places specialize in small-batch artisanal spirits and take pride in their seemingly endless collections, others take a more culinary approach; maintaining a vast assortment of rare and esoteric liqueurs, many that have not been available, let alone popular, since before the 1920s. Check out the labels. They’ve become exotic and fanciful; emblazoned with curious and frequently unpronounceable names such as Fernet-Branca, China-China Amer, Velvet Falernum, Carpano Antica, Amaro Averna, Cappelletti, Lillet, Crème Yvette, Aperol, and Suze.
Regardless of how the bar is stocked (Sidecar in San Marco boasts nearly twenty-five different varieties of rum, four times as many whiskeys, and an impressive lineup of esoteric cordials, apéritifs and amari), there are increasing numbers of magical and mystical elixirs produced by local, regional and international distillers finding their way into town.
As with the popularity of celebrity chefs, culinary television shows and cookbooks of every possible orientation, the demand for innovation from world-class bartenders and engaging experiences from behind the bar is growing exponentially.
While many of these innovations were originally part of a craft cocktail movement that started in New York, South Beach, San Francisco and New Orleans, there are plenty of mixologists and culinary talents in Jacksonville who know how to shake, stir, blend, and pour cocktails that are entirely of their own making. These are the multi-talented individuals who have studied the history of cocktails; have a functional vocabulary and fluency with classic recipes; understand the distinctive differences between amari, liqueurs, cordials, digestifs, and apéritifs; know how to formulate house-made syrups, fruit juices, shrubs and infusions; and know what it means to extend warm, enthusiastic, and genuine hospitality in pursuit of satisfying patrons’ experiences on a daily basis and ensuring loyalty over time.
Article written by Jeffrey Spear