From shaken and stirred to barrel-aged and blended, Memphis’ craft cocktails have garnered acclaim for their innovation and variety. We chatted with the leading mixologists and cocktail visionaries behind our most coveted cocktail spots for 2019 about the inspiration — and innovation — behind their bar programs. And here’s what the experts have to say, plus a palate-pleasing drink recommendation. Cheers to creativity and style for your next happy hour or weekend outing around town!
7 Fabulous Memphis Cocktail Spots
“Our punch bowl recipes change seasonally — right now, our winter bourbon punch recipe has cranberries, sherry, mulling spices, tea and juices. At Iris’ recently renovated bar, we use fresh juices, house-made syrups and mixers. We like to use products that aren’t in every restaurant. We have some crazy recipes. Often people think there is no way the ingredients in a cocktail will work, but then they taste and are happily surprised!” — Larin Culp, Beverage Director at Restaurant Iris
To order: The Iris Sour
“Our view at Loflin Yard is that great quality doesn’t have to mean taking yourself too seriously. Cocktails should be fun and uplifting, not stuffy or intimidating. If a drink doesn’t make you smile, then what’s the point?” — Mary Oglesby, Beverage Director at Loflin Yard
To order: It’s Winter Thyme on the seasonal menu or a barrel-aged Boulevardier
“When we set out to design the bar program at The Gray Canary, we wanted to focus on technique and playful cocktails. We wanted there to be a little surprise in every drink, and we wanted them to look fun, too. Some of the rules we follow at our other restaurants we don’t put on ourselves here, because storytelling is the inspiration for the whole experience. We wanted a spot where we could have a more casual bar experience. We have room for a big bar, plus seating that doesn’t feel you must have a full meal. There’s just something so fun and exciting about grabbing a seat in the lounge or at the bar or the raw bar and getting a cocktail or some bubbles with a dozen oysters and a couple snacks.
“What’s really exciting for me, in all of our restaurants, is the sheer creativity of our bartenders. David Hacking, our head bartender, has tapped into this energy, and he’s pulled some really smart stuff from the team. I always get excited when we sit down for the final tasting with Andy [Ticer] and Michael [Hudman]. And when every drink makes the chef’s eyebrows raise, that collaboration and execution is really inspiring. And I think that’s what people want — at least it’s what I want — from a restaurant experience.” — Nick Talarico, Director of Operations at The Gray Canary
To order: The Bigwig, a collaboration with the kitchen that features Old Dominick honeybell vodka and roasted carrots
“I believe consistency, quality and top-notch service is what keeps our guests returning, including our cocktail program. Our use of fresh ingredients combined with fun twists on classic cocktails sets our program apart. Not only do we have a regular list of specialty drinks, we feature a new cocktail weekly for guests to try.” — Ruth Herndon, General Manager at Tsunami
To order: The Tsunami Sazerac, which includes a house-made Chinese five-spice syrup
“Each Hu. Roof cocktail, rotated seasonally, is crafted with all local ingredients that are native to Memphis. We also use specialty enhancements to finish out the final flavor of the cocktails, which are then served on the roof with undeniably the best view of the Mississippi River. And we are one of the very few cocktail bars in Memphis to use the proper ice that the drink calls for.” — Christopher Hile, Director of Food & Beverage at Hu. Roof
To order: The Tennessee Cup, featuring brandy and rhubarb
“Old Dominick features distillery-only spirit releases crafted by Master Distiller, Alex Castle. The ambiance of sipping a cocktail while viewing the production floor is an experience unique to the South, and it just happens to be downtown Memphis.” — Zach Smith, Director of Marketing at Old Dominick Distillery
To order: As Prescribed … Where else can you sip a revived family spirit with as much Memphis tradition?
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“When guests walk into the Cellar Lounge, they forget about everything else. They know they can enjoy themselves. The family aspect of Folk’s Folly, whether among staff or Cellar Lounge guests, keeps me motivated to come to work and pour countless classic cocktails with a positive attitude everyday. Not very many piano bars are left in town, and the camaraderie in these walls is like a Memphis version of ‘Cheers’.” — David Tindle, Lead Bartender at Folk’s Folly
To order: Classic martini — You can’t beat a classic martini in this iconic Memphis steakhouse!
Now, head out to try one of these creative Memphis cocktails — and tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!
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