- Beth McKibben For the AJC
There’s a difference between a fad and a trend. Fads come in hot and burn out quickly while trends build momentum and have staying power. Atlanta has seen its fair share of drink fads this year (hello, activated charcoal), but these three cocktail trends are in it for the long haul.
Rum is on the rise, and Atlanta’s bartenders are showcasing the versatile spirit in everything from the classic Old Fashioned to riffs on the Manhattan. The menu at Kimball House (303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, kimball-house.com) changes frequently but typically includes two or three rum-based cocktails. Try the Night Cruise with rum, vermouth, bitter orange liqueur and sassafras in what seems a play on the Brooklyn. The newly opened C. Ellet’s (The Battery Atlanta adjacent to SunTrust Park, 2605 Circle 75 Parkway, Atlanta. 678-996-5344, c-ellets.com) lists a slightly sweet but worthy take on the classic Sazerac with port-finished rum, agave and Herbsaint. Midtown’s the Consulate (10 10th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-254-5760, theconsulateatlanta.com) offers rum flights in addition to several cleverly concocted rum cocktails like a mellowed-out Cosmo called the Gillespie with rum, sake, cranberry syrup and an absinthe rinse.
The suppressor or low-proof cocktail utilizes sherry, vermouth, port, Madeira or cider as the base spirit to achieve the same complexity with half the proof than its boozier brethren. Ticonderoga Club (Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-458-4534, ticonderogaclub.com) carries a perennial French cider and bitters-based drink called Hootchy Punch and at least one other low-booze cocktail on the menu. The Champ-Ale listed currently has become a favorite among regulars and is made with Spanish vermouth, sparkling wine and lemon and topped with the old-school Genesee Cream Ale. The outdoor bar at 8Arm (710 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com) continually gifts Atlanta drinkers with beautifully conceived offerings of classic cocktails, fortified wines and vintage-style session beers. The menu frequently lists a suppressor like the refreshing white port and tonic. Think: Gin and tonic without the herbal essence. Sherry (and brandy) lovers should head to Empire State South (999 Peachtree St. NE , Atlanta. 404-541-1105, empirestatesouth.com) for the Green Light with fino sherry and pear eau de vie set off by lemon bitters and a float of parsley oil.
Atlanta is home to Tiki destinations like Decatur’s S.O.S Tiki Bar (340 Church St, Decatur. 404-377-9308, vicsandwich.com/sos) and the iconic Trader Vic’s (255 Courtland St. NE, Atlanta. 404-221-6339, tradervicsatl.com), but traditional cocktail bars around the metro area are finding inspiration in the flavors of the tropics and incorporating ingredients like pineapple, coconut, velvet falernum and orgeat into their drinks. The Corn n’ Oil is a classic Caribbean drink containing dark rum, lime, bitters and falernum. The version at Cast Iron (701-5 Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-228-2005, castironatl.com) doesn’t mess with success. The menu at Amer (299 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-600-5895, ameratlanta.com) received a fall update and now includes cocktails from the tropics. Try the Golden Age of Piracy, a play on the Navy Grog with black and gold rums, cinnamon, plantain honey, lime, allspice dram and Tiki bitters. For the slightly more adventurous drinker, Gunshow (924 Garrett St., Atlanta. 404-380-1886, gunshowatl.com) has created an Asian-inspired spin on the classic Mai Tai called the Hai Tai with scotch, sesame orgeat, pineapple and shishito pepper syrup and ginger with sudachi fruit (Japanese sour citrus). Deep End (621 North Ave. NE, Atlanta. 678-904-0160, deependatl.com), a late-night bar from the folks behind the Mercury and the Pinewood, is expected to open by month’s end. The cocktail menu lists drinks like the Ahoy Polloi with bourbon, pineapple, ginger and falernum and a classic Mai Tai.