Found: Block and Grinder, 2935 Providence Road
Ingredients: Hendrick's Gin, homemade blueberry simple syrup, homemade sour mix, lavender bitters, mint for garnish.
Recently, Crabtree turned the craftsmanship over to home mixologists when Block and Grinder held its Summer Sip-Off contest, encouraging enthusiasts to submit original cocktail recipes to showcase in front of a panel of judges. Emily Pederson, whose husband also submitted his own cocktail recipe, created the aptly named sweet and sour cocktail Veruca Salt. The winning drink claimed a spot on the Block and Grinder cocktail list.
Found: e2 emeril's eatery, 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts, #100
Ingredients: 1.5 ounces Wild Turkey American Honey, 1.5 ounces carrot juice, 1.5 ounces lemon juice, 1 ounce ginger syrup, 1 ounce lemon juice and mint leaf for garnish.
Like most of e2's cocktails, the What's Up Doc was born out of the desire for a challenge. "The reason why it came about was because we had a few regulars challenge us that we couldn't make a drink with just anything," says bar manager Miki Nikolic. "'How about carrot?' they said. The next thing you know, they're sipping on this one."
Nikolic thrives off of challenging cautious, finicky drinkers to enjoy their "least favorite liquors." If you claim you're not a bourbon drinker, you'll soon be sipping on Wild Turkey under the impression that it's anything but whiskey. Later, he'll fill you in, at which point, you won't even mind. You'll be converted.
Nikolic, an old-school bartender, isn't a fan of new titles and crazes in the industry, and hates the word mixologist. Still, he's crafty when it comes to creating drinks at the fresh-forward bar at e2. His sought-after recipes are simple in execution, and Nikolic lives by a five-minute time limit for cocktail crafting. The Serbian legend is brimming with stories spanning international locales and the kitchens of famous chefs, and you'll most likely hear about them. He knows the recipe for a good bartender requires equal parts craftsmanship and conversation.
The folks at NoDa Brewing Company are so cool.
Today's NoDable series release is SIPA, a social IPA. Social in the sense that they joined other breweries around the world to brew this beer on the same day, the process of which was broadcast live on Google+.
They're so fancy, huh.
So basically, if you go to NoDa Brewing tonight and try the NoDable release, you're sipping on a SIPA that's been internationally sipped.
Found: Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge
Ingredients: McLeod Farms, S.C., peach juice, homemade sweet basil simple syrup, Lillet Blanc, Cardinal Gin. Carbonated and garnished with a grilled peach round.
If you thought the summer of '69 were the best days of your life, the soundtrack to your summer is about to change. "Generations to come will refer back to this one as the summer of carbonation," Pisces bartender Bob Peters jokes. He recently started experimenting with bubbles and the outcome is delightfully effervescent.
Pisces is, to our knowledge, one of the first joints in town to don and use a carbonator system. The geek chic cocktail device churns out some of the best summer sips you can imagine, with a little sparkle to excite the palette. From what started as something Peters found "fascinating, terribly interesting and fun," is now available for the taking in a highball glass at Pisces. The Carolina Peach is the epitome of a poolside sip and is almost too easy going down.
"I think it screams summertime. It screams summer drink, summer cocktail. I'm not sure how it's going to work in the winter but I'll figure something out," Peters added.
Come opening hours, even on weekdays, NoDa Brewing's tap room (located at 2229 N. Davidson St.) quickly fills up with locals and beverage connoisseurs alike who are enamored by the company's unique and ever-evolving craft brew lineup. However, a seasonal brew of the company has recently elevated itself beyond the pale ale, selling out almost immediately and inciting a thirsty demand unforeseen by even the company's owners.
That brew is the NoDajito - a witbier flavored by lime and spearmint echoing the refreshing summer staple of a mojito. Light, slightly sweet and crisp in palette, the selection is an almost perfect companion to warmer weather - if it could only stay on shelves and be readily available, then perhaps it could be a paragon.
"We created it last year, and we were just going to do it at one or two festivals, but it was so popular that we decided to do it on the big system," said brewery owner Suzie Ford. "It definitely will be our summertime beer, and we use it to kick off the festivals that start in April and May."
Found: 5Church (corner of 5th and Church streets)
Ingredients: Bacardi Limón, Chambord, fresh muddled raspberries and blackberries, mint, lemon and house-made simple syrup
Since its opening just over a year ago, 5Church has wooed locals and out-of-town celebs alike with a well-curated menu prepared by Chef Jamie Lynch. But it's more than just the wasabi-crusted salmon and renowned lamb burger that brings diners back for more. The buzzing bar entices with small plates and the promise of elbow-rubbing with the who's who of Charlotte and beyond. Thus, the cocktail is key.
5Church manager and head mixologist Mark Childers says he "likes to take a newer look at older cocktails." Describing himself as a classic traditionalist, Childers creates old-school cocktails with a modern twist. For instance, "The Wild Berry Mojito is a spin on the traditional mojito," he says. "It just takes it to the next level. For the summer months coming up, there's nothing better than a fruity mojito ... combining the freshness of the mint with the fresh fruit makes for an amazing dance on the palate."
Found: Bistro La Bon (1322 Central Ave.)
Ingredients: Tito's vodka, Lillet Rouge, lavender simple syrup, muddled strawberry
Keeping it seasonal is the general ideology behind the craftsmanship of cuisine and cocktails at Bistro La Bon. If a particular fruit isn't available at the farmers market, the bar will whip up a cocktail with what ingredients are available. "If you can't find good strawberries, then you can't have a good strawberry drink," Chef Majid Amoorpour says. Luckily for us, markets are overflowing with berries come the warmer months, and Bistro is seeking them out for its most current featured drink, the Austin Strawberry.
"We definitely wanted to do something that was very much spring, to remind people to come out and enjoy the different side of cocktails again. Fresh fruits and flowers and all that. We've incorporated both into this drink with the fresh strawberries and the lavender," Amoorpour says. Like the cocktail list, the dishes at Bistro La Bon are also ever-evolving, relying on the goods of the season. Amoorpour recommends pairing the Austin Strawberry with the crispy avocado and asparagus appetizer. "The sweet and the spicy play off of each other really well."
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