Top 10 cocktail trends

Our expert guide to keeping up with cocktails in the West


Cracked, cubed, crushed, hand-chipped, flaming, spherical—ice is to drink what a stove is to cooking now. Better cubes determine the rate of dilution and should complement the particular drink you’re having.

Where to find it:

  • San Francisco. At Elixir, the $25 Jimmy Mac cocktail (built around an 18-year Macallan scotch) is accompanied by Gläce Luxury ice, a single ice sphere—for slower melting—crafted from bubble-free, double-distilled water.
  • Portland. Laurelhurst Market’s Smoke Signals cocktail (Tennessee whiskey, lemon juice, sherry, pecan syrup) is served with a large shard of smoked ice—made by melting ice in a smoker, then refreezing. This yields a coarse and layered smokiness that plays well with the whiskey.
  • Boulder. The Out with the Flame cocktail, made with flaming ice, was created to celebrate Oak at Fourteenth’s reopening after a 2011 fire. A handcrafted ice sphere is first “tempered” with green Chartreuse, then set aflame. Yes, it’s for show, but what a show! After being doused with aged rum, Chartreuse, Bénédictine, and bitters, it’s ready for sipping.
  • Seattle. Custom chipping ice from a huge block isn’t uncommon at craft cocktail bars nationwide, but Rob Roy takes their ice uncommonly seriously, with hand-chipped ice to fit your glass and whatever it is you’re drinking.


Hipsters started a tiki revival, mining the past for camp and kitsch, but it’s spread to cocktail purists who’ve elevated these historic drinks, now made with artisanal rums and hand-crafted syrups.

Where to find it:

  • San Francisco. There are more than 300 rums at Smuggler’s Cove, as well as a rum club for serious fans.
  • Denver. At the city’s newest tiki incarnation, Adrift updates classics with as many as nine ingredients. Plus, there are luaus on the back patio.
  • Portland. Keep an eye out for the fall 2012 opening of Hale Pele, a new bar from serious tiki geek Blair Reynolds.


Terroir isn’t just for wine nowadays. Particularly in the Northwest, distillers are foraging in fields and forests to impart flavors from the land to their spirits. Think thimbleberries, lavender, spruce, and pear.

Where to find it:

  • Near Roche Harbor, WA. San Juan Island Distillery makes a glorious Spy Hop Harvest Select Gin. It’s distilled from Washington apples and flavored with botanicals like nettles, lavender, and thimbleberries foraged on the island.
  • Newport, OR. Rogue Spirits makes Rogue Spruce Gin, flavored with the Northwest’s native spruce.
  • Kelowna & Vernon, B.C. Okanagan Spirits makes a delightful Poire Williams eau de vie from two dozen perfectly ripe local Bartlett pears per bottle.


Cocktails have roots in the early-19th-century patent-medicine era, and today’s top bartenders love to borrow old methods and ingredients to create new flavors. Look for housemade tinctures (single infusions of herbs, barks, and the like), bitters (blends of infused ingredients), and syrups (sugar, water, and flavorings) that produce modern cocktails brimming with two centuries of tradition.

Where to find it:

  • Vancouver, B.C. Startender Danielle Tatarin is the sly wizard behind the Chinese apothecary–themed Keefer Bar in Chinatown. Herbs, barks, and fungi from local markets are infused into syrups and tinctures, making these cocktails good for what ails you.


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