A great number of innovative cocktails popped up across the country in 2011, said TastingTable.com. Following “exhaustive” research in “an untold number of bars, lounges, and restaurants,” we believe that we’ve identified “the most innovative, out-there, and otherwise extraordinary cocktails of the year.” Consider them inspiration for your own experiments.
The Joan Harris Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland. This homage to Mad Men’s “disarmingly astute” secretary spikes a lager with Drambuie, Cherry Heering, citrus, and bitters. Served over ice in a pint glass, this beer cocktail “packs more punch and depth” than you’d expect. 1947 W. 25th St., (216) 621-4000
The Miso Mule Bar Congress, Austin. The mixologist Adam Bryan has developed a “knack for thoughtful tweaks that quietly dazzle without veering into show-off territory.” The Miso Mule harnesses a “most unlikely quintet of ingredients,” combining whiskey, radish chunks, light miso paste, honey, and lemon soda. The refreshing result is “at once salty, smoky, sweet, crisp, and tinged with heat.” 200 Congress Ave., (512) 827-2760
The Smashing Pumpkin Graffiato, Washington, D.C. Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella likes to name his cocktails after rock bands. In this seasonal rum cocktail, pumpkin puree and a dash of allspice dram are offset by “a spritzy lemon soda.” 707 6th St. NW, (202) 289-3600