Prediction: Mezcal breaks through.
Why now: The smoky liquor, distilled from the fermented pulp of pit-roasted agave plants, is primarily made by boutique operations in Oaxacan villages, which means that unlike, say, Jose Cuervo, its manufacturers lack the funds for aggressive marketing. No matter. Casa Mezcal, Mayahuel, and Empellón Cocina are beating the drums loud and clear; it’s only a matter of time before others follow suit.
Order this: the Vida Old-Fashioned at the Dutch (131 Sullivan St., nr. Prince St; 212-677-6200), made with mezcal, agave-cardamom syrup, vanilla bitters, and a twist of orange.
Prediction: Cognac shows its softer side.
Why now: The comeback brandy broke sales records last year, but is still plagued by its bipolar rep as the straight-from-the-bottle choice of both rappers and Wall Streeters. That may give way this fall, though, as bartenders show off its mixable side in cocktails.
Order this: the Vieux Carré at Weather Up (159 Duane St., nr. W. Broadway; 212-766-3202), made with Landy VS cognac, rye whiskey, and sweet vermouth, and served in a glass rinsed with herbal Bénédictine liqueur.
Prediction: Cocktails get bottled/drafted.
Why now: Pre-batching mixes saves harried bartenders time, and when bottled, they’re silly-fun to drink. Booker and Dax and the Daily both bottle cocktails, while Gin Palace and Saxon + Parole serve their prefab mixes on tap.
Order this: the L’Américain at the Experimental Cocktail Club (191 Chrystie St., nr. Stanton St.; no phone), made with artichoke-infused sweet vermouth, walnut-infused Campari, thyme water, and orange oils. The batch is carbonized, bottled, and served with a straw.
The experts: Matty Clark of Silver Lining, John deBary of PDT and Momofuku, Nicolas de Soto of Experimental Cocktail Club, Hayden Felice of Craftbar, Danny Gil of Weather Up, Rainlove Lampariello of the Standard, and Josh Nadel of the Dutch.
This story appeared in the August 27, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.