On the Rocks: Top 10 cocktails of 2014

The Brooklynite’s Whiskey Kisses - Ryan Hamilton
Ryan Hamilton
The Brooklynite’s Whiskey Kisses

The Jackstrap

Bar 1919, 1420 S Alamo, Ste 001, (210) 227-1420, 1919bar.com

We're convinced that bar guys stay up late thinking up outrageously double entendre-ish names for drinks. (The best ideas probably come after a couple of shots of challenging, though super-bracing Fernet-Branca.) Sometimes the monikers miss, but when they score, even if in the Seth Rogen sense, they score big. The Jackstrap may have been on Don Marsh's menu for a while, but it only came to my attention in 2014. Composed principally of Laird's classic applejack and blackstrap rum, it both tastes good and smells way better than the assumed (adolescent) inspiration.

All "A" Report Card

Barbaro, 2720 McCullough, (210) 320-2261, barbarosanantonio.com

Elisabeth Forsythe is one cheeky lady—at least on the evidence of her bar menu at Barbaro. I'm thinking especially of the All "A" Report Card, a drink I would, first, never have thought to attempt at home, and, second, never have imagined ordering but for a little urging. The drink takes the soda fountain as its inspiration, and though there is no ice cream there is cola floated atop bourbon, gin, Galliano, classic acid phosphate (for tartness), root beer syrup, cream and egg white, all first given a dry shake without ice, then shaken with it. We're thinking more Scarlet Letter "A" ourselves...

Whiskey Kisses

The Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn, (210) 444-0707, brooklynitesa.com

Leave it to the instigators of the Alamo City's tiki trend to include an island-esque cocktail on their autumn menu that's devoid of all things pumpkin. Served in a tall Collins glass with crushed ice, Whiskey Kisses is perfect for a hot SA night out (I sampled my first after a rather sticky second night of Luminaria) for both its boozy and wildly refreshing flavors. Although it strays from tiki with the addition of rye whiskey, in place of rum, the flavors couldn't be more in line (unless we threw in a pineapple or two), as it combines a house-made orgeat with almonds, sugar and orange water, dry Curaçao, lime and grapefruit.

White Negroni

Dorćol Distilling Company, 1902 S Flores, (210) 229-0607, dorcoldistilling.com

Head (and effectively only) barboy at Dorcol, Nick Kenna is faced with a challenge: his main cocktail ingredient pretty much has to be the distillery's apricot rakia. Not to worry, he quickly realized that he needed to be ultra-inventive in the second (and third) ingredient category. Like everyone, he's riffed on an Old Fashioned, in this case with rakia, a brown sugar cube and bitters. But a personal favorite is the White Negroni with rakia standing in for gin, Martini & Rossi white vermouth and Suze, a gentian-based digestif. I'm not ditching the original, but for an occasional dalliance...

Green Light District

George's Keep, 17101 La Cantera Pkwy, (210) 310-3733, georgeskeep.com

Much like its Pearl-located sister bar Blue Box, George's Keep draws in a peculiar bar-hopping set. Opened by Stephen Mahoney and a slew of serious bartenders, including Johnny Bernal and Steven Raul Martín, George's Keep serves to placate that Loopland crowd with strong and inventive cocktails to sip in the posh interior and European village-themed setting that is the Éilan. Said inventive drinks include this summer's Green Light District, which combined green chartreuse, blanco tequila, cane sugar and lime with Crave Market's celery blend—perfect for knocking back on the patio and taking in the show.

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