Words By Tam Sackman, Photos By Clarissa Villondo
Last weekend we had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop featuring all of the bar staff at Bourbon Steak, the Four Seasons Hotel’s resident upscale eatery. The lesson at hand: gaining familiarity with all of the new summer-inspired cocktails devised by head bar manager and cocktail craftsman extraordinaire, Torrence Swain. The staff tried each of the 16 new drinks (only a sip each– they were, in fact, on the clock) and gave feedback.
Without further adieu, here is the entirely subjective ranking of each of the new drinks we tried:
16. Gold Lord
What’s in it: Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon, Fresh Lemon, Mango, Basil, Tabasco. Garnished with smoked paprika.
Bottom line: This is a tall glass of Tabasco. Proceed with caution, if it even ends up making it to the final menu.
What’s in it: Leblon Cachaca, Mandarin, Fresh Lime, Angostura Bitters. Garnished with lime wheel.
Bottom line: Any attempt to disguise the taste of Cachaca in this drink is unsuccessful.
14. Ti Punch
What’s in it: Clement Canne Bleue Rhum, fresh lime, cane, sparkling wine. Topped with Charles de Fere, garnished with a lime wheel.
Bottom line: Despite there being few ingredients, the flavors in here aren’t entirely harmonious.
What’s in it: Denros Overproofed Rum, Fresh Lime, Cinnamon, Falernum, Fresh Grapefruit, Absinthe, Angostura Bitters. Garnished with pineapple leaf, orange and cherry flag.
Bottom line: Despite a gorgeous presentation, this one packs too strong of a punch for casual patio sipping (guests are limited to 2 because of the overproofed rum). But if you’re into strong punches, who am I to tell you not to get this?
12. Naked and Famous
What’s in it: Del Maguey Minero Mezcal, Yellow Chartruese, Aperol, Fresh Lime
Bottom line: The Mezcal makes this a glass of pure smoke.
11. Freshen Up
What’s in it: Choice of spirit (Kappa Pisco, Silencio Mezcal, Ocho Cientos Sotol, Ford’s Gin), Fresh Lime, Mint, Ginger.
Bottom line: We tried it with the gin and the sotol. The gin gives it mojito vibes and makes for a pretty cool, refreshing drink, but the sotol tastes like grass.
10. Water Lily
What’s in it: Ford’s Gin, Cointreau, Creme de Violette, Fresh Lemon, Orange Bitters
Bottom line: Not as fragrant as expected, which is definitely a good thing. Like an easier-to-drink aviation.
9. Jenny in a Bottle
What’s in it: Leblon Reserva Cachaca, Fernet Leopold, House-Made Cider, Fresh Lemon, Ginger. Served in a bottle.
Bottom line: Delicious, but the flavors (particularly the cider) tend to lean towards a fall palate. Still refreshing enough for summer, though.
8. Beer’s Knees
What’s in it: Barr Hill Gin, Fresh Lemon, Honey, 3 Star Peppercorn Saison Beer
Bottom line: Perfect for if you can’t decide between a beer and a cocktail, both flavors are present but not at odds with each other.
7. Pisco Punch
What’s in it: Kappa Pisco, Pineapple, Fresh Lime, Fresh Grapefruit, Angostura Bitters. Served over a frozen clove-infused pineapple chunk. Garnished with a lime wheel.
Bottom line: The pineapple chunk is a knockout and the drink hits sweet in some places and sour in others.
6. Cucumber Kiwi Tonic (Non-Alcoholic)
What’s in it: Cucumber water, House-Made Kiwi Syrup, Fever Tree Tonic
Bottom line: I’m a sucker for sweet cucumber drinks (as you’ll see) and this was as refreshing as they come. It doesn’t need any alcohol, but if you were looking to amp it up, a shot of gin would be perfect.
5. Play it Cool
What’s in it: Choice of spirit (Bulleit Bourbon, Rittenhouse Rye, Hennessy VS, George Dickel #9, Compass Box Asyla). Fresh Lemon, Cucumber, Cane, Soda
Bottom line: I never really consider pairing bourbon and cucumber, but this really worked in a surprising way.
4. Pineapple Vanilla Soda (Non-Alcoholic)
What’s in it: Pineapple Gomme, House-Made Vanilla Syrup, Fresh Lime, Soda
Bottom line: The only drink I requested a full glass of after the tasting was done. It could be too sweet for some, but Bourbon Steak bottled this, I’d be buying in bulk.
3. Lost in Decadence
What’s in it: Ketel One Vodka, House-Made Fudge, Gailliano Ristretto, White Chocolate Espuma (Godiva White Chocolate, Frangelico, Marachino, Eggwhite). Garnished with grated chocolate and cherry powder.
Bottom line: Imagine the most delicious chocolate mousse in the world. Now imagine it in a liquid form that gets you drunk. That’s this. The only caveat: figuring out whether it should be spooned or sipped.
2. Koala in Cuzco
What’s in it: Mint Infused La Diabla Pisco, Kiwi, Fresh Lime. Garnished with fresh mint and compressed mint flavored kiwi.
Bottom line: This was the first drink we tried, and it stayed in my head all day. It’s a “patio-pounder” for sure– sweet, cool and (buzzword of the day) refreshing.
1. Maui Waui
What’s in it: Coconut Infused Denros Rum, Pineapple Gomme, Orgeat Fresh Lime, Barrel-Aged Bitters. Garnished with grated chocolate and pineapple chunk.
Bottom line: Call me basic, but this Tiki drink is anything but that. This is a pina colada on roids, if roids made things taste exceptionally great. This drink is a cruise to somewhere that’s always 72 degrees and sunny. Full disclosure: I’m very much not a rum person, but this was hands down my favorite drink of the day.