Top 10 cocktail trends

Our expert guide to keeping up with cocktails in the West


Meet tequila’s lesser-known but more engaging cousin. Both are distilled from agave and made in Mexico, but mezcal has a rougher, smokier character—more Marlon Brando than Hugh Grant.

Where to find it:

  • L.A. Las Perlas is like a wormhole with direct access to southern Mexico. Sample dozens of hard-to-find mezcals and tequilas (up to $48 per shot, but most much less), or get more creative with a cocktail like the Disco Mariachi, which melds Chartreuse, pine­apple juice, and orgeat with mezcal.


Amari (Italian for “bitters”) were designed to stimulate digestion following a meal. Italian Aperol and Fernet-Branca have muscled onto the scene, and now we’re seeing domestic amari lending a New World touch of bitter—off­set with a touch of sweet—and making cocktails more intriguing.

Where to find it:

  • Denver. Leopold Brothers’ unmistakable Fernet Leopold is a mintier, American version of Italian Fernet (an intensely potent—some say medicinal—bitter liqueur). It makes for a great after-dinner sip, or throws a curveball into a classic cocktail like the 1920s Hanky Panky. 


Call it a micro-micro-trend: small craft bars hidden within larger, busier bars and restaurants. Bar owners peddle the high-volume beer and highballs to the masses up front, while quietly catering to a more demanding cocktail crowd in private. Fewer people means bartenders have more time for your perfectly crafted drink.

Where to find it:

  • Vancouver, B.C. There are bars within bars all over the West—at the Varnish in L.A., the Hideout in San Francisco, Citizen R+D in Scottsdale, Arizona. But the shining example? The Diamond in Vancouver. Order a drink at the handsome public bar, then quietly inquire about the Elk Room—if the stars align, you’ll discreetly be shown down a dark hallway, ushered into a compact room, and read the rules. (Rule #1: “There is no Elk Room.”)


In Portland, the headwaters of the West’s craft distilling movement, 12 microdistilleries make everything from apple brandy to vodka, and the real action is a cluster on Distillery Row in Southeast Portland.

Where to find it:

  • Portland. Four distilleries within a few blocks of one another in Southeast Portland coordinate weekend hours and tout themselves as Distillery Row. Don’t miss House Spirits Distillery for Aviation gin made with juniper, cardamom, lavender, sarsaparilla, and orange peel. You can visit individually or buy a $20 Distillery Row passport. Leave the car behind with a bike-powered pedicab tour with PDX Pedicab.


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