SAVEUR’s first issue launched in the summer of 1994, which makes this year our 21st birthday—an occasion that we think certainly merits a cocktail. We asked our staffers about their first legal drinks, and answers ranged from shots of Wild Turkey to amaretto sours to Long Island Iced Teas, with Kamikazes and Lemon Drops extremely well-represented. This time around, we decided to celebrate with a little more sophistication, so we convinced 21 of our bartender friends—like Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park and Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta from The Broken Shaker—to make us a little something. They obliged with a flood of creative cocktail recipes, from dressed-up piña coladas to smoky sherry concoctions to twists on the old fashioned, ensuring that our first of-age sip will be a memorable one. Try one or two—or all 21—of these recipes, and celebrate along with us.
99 Problems But An Herb Ain’t One
Gin, lemongrass, ginger, and kaffir lime combine in this savory cocktail from Alex Straus of LA’s E.P. & L.P., who created it to complement the restaurant’s spicier dishes.
This drink takes cues from mole’s combination of smoky, sweet flavors, incorporating mezcal, sherry, dark rum, and cognac.
Romero and Julieta
Danny Sanchez of Rancho Pescadero in Mexico gave us the recipe for this vibrant, summery cocktail in honor of our 21st birthday. He starts with a tea made from dried hibiscus, then adds tequila, a rosemary-infused simple syrup, and lime juice. Get the recipe for Romero and Julieta »
JB Bernstein, bar manager at Vernick Food & Drink in Philadelphia, celebrates summer with this simple, floral gin cocktail, sweetened with lavender-infused syrup and garnished with lavender dust. Get the recipe for Lavender Sour >>
This tiki-inspired drink is based on the Adonis, a pre-prohibition recipe that is equal parts sherry and vermouth, with a balancing dash of bitters.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Portland’s Clyde Common adds a tropical spin to a classic sour cocktail with Jamaican rum and fresh citrus.
The name of this cocktail—a cross between a White Russian and a Thai iced coffee—is a joking nod to John Goodman’s character in the film the Big Lebowski.
Bartender John Maher of The Rogue Gentlemen in Richmond, Virginia, likes to incorporate savory ingredients into his drinks. In this sour, he pairs gin with an olive oil that has grassy, fruity notes. See the recipe for Slick Rick »
If You Like Piña Colada
Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park crafted this cocktail in honor of our 21st birthday, inspired by SAVEUR’s global influence. “While your average 21-year-old is spending their birthday getting a little too familiar with Jagermeister and Miller High-Life—not that there’s anything wrong with that—SAVEUR has already been around the world,” he says. “She’s sampled the best, and is hungry for more. Here, a perfect blend of some lesser-seen players: spicy rye, robust and savory-spiced velvet falernum, ancient and unapologetically vegetal green Chartreuse, and Linie aquavit, a spirit that, amazingly enough, has actually sailed around the world, aging in oak sherry casks to the rhythm of the rolling waves. Coconut, lime, and pineapple tie the package together; a somewhat more civilized yet totally delicious way to celebrate one’s twenty-first year.” Get the recipe for If You Like Piña Colada »
Matteo Malisan, bar manager of The Zetter Townhouse in London, gave us the recipe for this modern, light twist on a classic milk punch. It uses gin instead of the more traditional whiskey, making it a perfect summer drink.
This smoky-sweet cherry cocktail from Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room is punched up with dark rum and softened with a long pour of Champagne. Get the recipe for Spyglass
Pimm’s Cup #21
Inspired by our list of Friday cocktails, bartender Michael Neff noticed that bitter flavors were prominent, as were fizzy drinks made with fresh fruit and herbs. To that end, he created a modified Pimm’s Cup, using Cynar to add a bit more bitter tang and ginger beer for spice. Fresh fruit and herbs round out the (almost) traditional summer refresher. Get the recipe for Pimm’s Cup #21 »
This nutty cocktail from Mike Bass of Florida’s Cask and Larder combines amaro, vermouth, and sherry with a tangy beet and carrot shrub.