Traveling Gourmet: COCKTAILS GONE WILD IN THE USA

by Rich Rubin

While we’ve seen (and drunk) about a million versions of a mojito or martini, a Manhattan or a Singapore Sling, my favorites are those that really push the envelope, both visually and in terms of taste.

Rich Rubin

HAIL MARY
THE RELLIK TAVERN BENICIA, CALIFORNIA

The Rellik Tavern

The Hail Mary is served at brunch, or should I say is the brunch, since this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cocktail contains pretty much every food group on earth. It starts with the most essential food group a bloody mary, and adds a series of skewers containing just about everything you need for a filling meal or a morning-after recovery. There’s the usual celery stalk, olive, and lemon wedge, but then you’ll discover much more: a fried chicken slider, some bacon, a fried pickle, and their own creation, a Raven’s Claw, which consists of a jalapeño stuffed with bacon and chile cream cheese, topped with a jumbo shrimp, and encased in a wonton wrapper. You can get the fried chicken sliders or Raven’s Claw from the regular menu, but aren’t they that much better when they’re garnishing a bloody mary? Sit on one of the couches at a low table, gaze up at the beautiful tin ceilings, and dig into your Hail Mary, which is truly a meal in a glass. 726 1st St., Benicia California. Tel: 707- 746-1137. www.therelliktavern.com

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MERCURY MIRAGE
WEFT & WARP ART BAR + KITCHEN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Scottsdale bars might be non-smoking, but that applies to the customers, not the drinks, as the Mercury Mirage is brought to the table with smoke rising from it. It’s not just for looks either, as the smokiness permeates the drink, which is made from Rittenhouse rye infused with smoked tea, house-made demerara syrup, and bitters that are piquant with the tasted of smoked chiles. It’s a rich smoky-tasting delight, but that’s not the most fun part. A smoke gun filled with applewood chips makes sure the visuals match the taste, and your glass is filled with smoke before the drink is poured into it, so it arrives with the aromatic vapor rising off and spreading across the air. It’s not all theatrics, though, as you still have a uniquely delicious cocktail to savor once the smoke begins to dissipate. 6114 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale AZ. Tel: 480-368-1234. www.andazscottsdale.com/dining

 

Mercury Mirage

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