When Kate Bolton and Alex Smith sat down to develop the drinks list for Novela, they found themselves facing a familiar challenge. How can you reconcile a craft cocktail program with a high-volume, potentially impatient clientele? The answer: punch on tap.
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The thing about assembling enough people from any industry, as I was reminded of at Tales of the Cocktail down in New Orleans a few weeks back, is that discussions get heated and conflicts arise. Get enough bartenders in one room and differences in philosophy will emerge pretty quickly. One of the more interesting debates arose about cocktails on tap—not only whether they could be as good as a freshly made cocktail, but how customers would perceive them: how the drinking experience would differ. What do you think about cocktails on tap?
While water inspires the cuisine, ice inspires the cocktails at Riffle, a new restaurant in Portland, OR. Riffle has installed an ice machine that creates 400-pound blocks of crystal clear ice that are traditionally used for creating ice sculptures. After 3 months of extensive testing, these giant blocks are destined for your drinks, whether carefully carved into crystal-clear spears to fit into a Collins glass for the Riffle Collins made with fresh celery juice, or a hand-cut sphere for the old-fashioned inspired Mayor Rock cocktail, comprised of mezcal, applejack, agave, and bitters. Dave Shenaut, former president of the Oregon Bartender's Guild, has bounced around for brief stints at almost all of Portland's greatest craft cocktail bars. But he told us that he won't be leaving Riffle anytime soon.
Steve Livigni is known for his heady composed concoctions at La Descarga and Harvard & Stone (where he recently did a Wonka-style cocktail version of a Sunday Supper, complete with a peas and carrots drink and a vodka elixir made with beef bouillon). But he says he's gone simpler at Blue Cow, which is already attracting a buzzing happy hour crowd.