Over the past few years, the cocktail conversation has focused on expanding the form, with bored bartenders turning to smoke, vegetables, and even non-potables like leather to give their creations unexpected flavors.
In the meantime, some classics fell off the radar, relegated to the dusty corners of old steakhouses and airport lounges, places no rising mixologist would call hip — even if the bartenders have been sporting mustaches long before they were hip. The stigma went double for dessert cocktails, those sickly sweet staples of chain restaurants the world over.
But at least one local distiller is looking to change the narrative over the grand dame of dessert cocktails with the return of its third annual holiday Brandy Alexander Cocktail Tour. The classic version — a well-balanced blend of 1 ounce each of cognac, creme de cacao, and cream garnished with fresh nutmeg — has gotten a bad rap over the years. Now Southtown distiller Dorcol has asked area bars and restaurants to rehabilitate that image with their own takes using Dorcol’s Kinsman small batch Rakia (that’s apricot brandy for those of you who aren’t cocktail nerds).
The informal crawl, which has included Brigid, Lüke, and Boiler House in the past, includes some old favorites and a few hot newcomers this year. Juniper Tar’s version utilizes a Kringle Cream, a spirit meant to mimic the taste of the classic Danish pastry. Hoppy Monk pours in an ounce of a house liqueur made with Merit coffee and Deschutes Black Butte porter. And Brooklynite waxes nostalgic with the addition of cereal milk (really a combo of rice, almond, and heavy cream infused with Golden Grahams).
Other participants this year include Bar 1919, Biga on the Banks, Bite, George’s Keep, Liberty Bar, both the Quarry and Elian Piattis, Rosella at the Rand, and Signature. The event starts Thursday, November 23, and runs until New Year’s Eve.