gaz regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails
Here’s an article showing the trends of gaz regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails. I think it’s a good indicator of where the industry is going according to gaz, and like him I like the fact that Scotch is being used more in new drinks these days. For the full list, click here.
“The Regan Report: 2014
Based on gaz regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails (101BNC), a compilation that’s been hailed as “the best list of its kind,” (Francis P. Schott, co-owner of Catherine Lombardi and Stage Left restaurants in New Brunswick), the Regan Report details global trends in the Bar Business, looking at spirits, liqueurs, bitters, and oddities that have proved to be the most popular among bartenders over the past year. You’ll see our findings in this document.
"There are quite a few surprises in this year’s list," says Regan. "Scotch has made great headways with cocktailian bartenders, for instance, after being all but ignored for the best part of this century." Other items to look out for include Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Chartreuse, and Amari in many different hues and guises.
"Putting this list together has become a great tool for me," Regan adds, "since it gives me a clear picture of what’s actually working out well behind the bars of the world."
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Over the course of the last 12 months, Regan received approximately 7,000 recipes sent to him by bartenders all over the world, and from these drinks he picked 101 formulas that he deemed to be the very best of the best new cocktails. Approximately 50% (fifty percent) of the recipes chosen came from bartenders in the USA, and just over 10% (ten percent) emanated from the UK, with France, Germany, and Spain weighing in next, each country boasting approximately 5% (five percent) of the winning entries.
"My reach is concentrated in the USA," says Regan, so I’m not surprised that American bartenders led the pack again this year. And I’ve a fair number of bartender contacts in the UK, too, so that number makes sense."
German bartenders have been strong for years, according to Regan, and although both France and Spain were a little late to the cocktail revolution, once they “joined the party,” so to speak, they showed enormous passion and creativity. Italy and Greece, two more mainland European countries, showed well this year with around 3% (three percent) each of the recipes in 101 BNC, and Regan thought that that made sense, too. ”Both countries sport very distinctive cuisines,” he said, “so it’s not surprising that their bartenders know what they’re doing.”
The biggest surprise of the year, Regan notes, is the fact that China, a country that hasn’t been represented in previous years, had 2 recipes in this year’s list—the same number as Australia, a major cocktail hub.
Other countries represented in this year’s 101BNC list, each with just one cocktail being picked, were Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand.
"I expected more from Down Under," says Regan, noting that New Zealand didn’t show at all this year, "and I think we should expect more from South Africa in the coming months—it’s an explosion waiting to happen." Regan also expects Chinese bartenders to go from strength over the coming year, noting that, when he visited Beijing and Shanghai early in 2013, he saw some fabulous innovation and passion in he bartenders there. "I’m a little surprised that more recipes from Japan didn’t make the final cut this year," he says. "One of the best balanced, and most memorable cocktails I ever tasted was made by a Japanese bartender."
Just 5% of this year’s drinks contained Absinthe, and no one brand stood out among them. Regan doubts that absinthe will ever be much more popular than this, though he still views absinthe as a very important ingredient for the cocktailian bartender. ”Apart from the fact that it pairs so well to both scotch, and to mezcal—both known for their smoky characters—absinthe, when used judiciously, can bring fabulous nuances to cocktails that can be gotten from no other source,” he says, “but woe betide anyone who uses too much absinthe in a drink—it can mask the other ingredients in a cocktail with the bat of a heavy eye.”
Over 30% (thirty percent) of the recipes in this year’s list called for amaro in one way, shape, or form, and it’s not too very surprising that Campari led the list, being the ingredient called for in nearly a quarter of the recipes calling for a potable bitter.
Aperol (17%+), Averna (20%+), Fernet Branca (almost 15%), and Cynar (over 12%) were also strong contenders in this year’s list, though, and other amaro called for in the 101BNC list, showing up in just one recipe each, include Amaro Montenegro, Jägermeister , Luxardo Amaro Abano, and Ramazzotti Amaro.
"Jägermeister, I think, will burst onto the cocktail scene in the near future," says Regan (full disclosure: Jägermeister is a sponsor of Regan’s newsletters and Regan is a known Jägermeister freak!), though it will likely be used in very small quantities to bring complexity to cocktails with overtaking the whole drink. And Cynar seems to be poised to become a player among cocktailian bartenders in the near future, too." Whichever brands reign supreme, though, we don’t expect amaro to fall out of favor with bartenders anywhere in the foreseeable future.
"Three of the latest 101 Best New Cocktails called for applejack, and all three specified the Laird’s brand, so newcomers in this category haven’t gotten a foothold yet," says Regan, noting that Laird’s Bonded Applejack bottling is still the bartender’s favorite.
Five percent of the new list of 101BNC called for aquavit (Aalborg: 2%; Linie Aquavit: 3%), and Regan predicts that this category is ready to grow among the world’s best bartenders. ”I doubt it will ever become a huge contender for a prime spot in mixologists’ bag of tricks,” he says, “but it’s so darned distinctive that I believe that the best of the best in the business will have fun making it work in various formulas. Let’s see whether or not this category grows during the next 12 months.”
Only one recipe out of the 101 formulas chosen this year called for cachaca, and Regan thinks it will be a while before bartenders figure out what to do with rum’s Brazilian sister. ”I had cachacas that knocked my socks off in Rio a couple of years ago,” he says, “but few of them are available outside of Brazil, and the companies that do export just don’t seem to be able to find a foothold within the cocktail world.
Just two of this list of cocktails called for Calvados, so Applejack (3 mentions) beat out its French cousin this time around. Perhaps some small calvados producer will reach out to the world’s bartenders in coming months?
Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula cognac was called for three times out of the nine drinks that called for cognac this time around, narrowly beating out Remy Martin VSOP (2 mentions), leaving the remaining four mentions to Camus VS Cognac, Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac, Hennessy VS, and one call for a generic VS bottling.
"Cognac is finally gracing the shakers of the world," notes Regan, "and it’s being led by the relatively small companies rather than the big boys of the cognac game."
Bols Genever made its way into 3 of this lists 101 new cocktails, and Bols 6-year-old Corenwyn Jenever was called for once, too. No other brands made the cut. ”I sure as heck hope that Bols buys Dave Wondrich a car or a helicopter or something,” says Regan, noting that, in his opinion, it was Wondrich’s book, Imbibe, that brought this category of spirit back into the forefront, “and I’m interested to see just how far genever will fly in the near future.”
Plymouth led the gin category this year, making its way into four of the fifteen drinks calling for the juniper-laden spirit. It was followed closely, though, by Tanqueray No.TEN (3 mentions), and Beefeater 24 (2 mentions). ”Ransom Old Tom gin was called for in one recipe,” says Regan, “and it’s a pretty fabulous bottling that I’m betting we’ll see more of in future. Old Tom is another style of gin that owes its resurgence, at least in part, to Wondrich’s book, Imbibe.”
Other gins in the list this year, with one mention each, were Beefeater, G’Vine, Hendrick’s, Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength, and North Shore gin #6
Ron Zacapa 23 was mentioned in 5 of this year’s cocktails, narrowly beating out Bacardi light which was called for in 4 of the 101 drinks, and Angostura 1919, which appeared 3 times. ”Although a total of 18 drinks called for rum this time around, beating scotch by a margin of 2, I still think that scotch is the ingredient of the year, simply because it’s a relative newcomer to the mixology scene of the 21st-century,” says Regan.
That said, Regan sees no sign of rum declining in the near future, and with quality bottlings such as Zacapa working with bartenders on a worldwide scale, we’ll no doubt be seeing more rum on our cocktail lists soon. Other bottlings called for, with just one mention each, were: Banks “7 Golden Age” rum, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, Havana Club 3 Anos rum, Lemon Hart 151 Demerara rum, Mt. Gay Eclipse Black rum, and Trois Rivieres rhum.
"Scotch is the runaway favorite ingredient in this list," says Regan, noting that a whopping 16% of the recipes chosen in this batch called for usquebaugh from North of the English border. "Scotch has barely been used in the cocktail world until 2013," he says, "and now everyone seems to have caught on to the fact that they can differentiate their dinks quite easily, by calling for various bottlings of this amber nectar."
Not one bottling of scotch was used twice this year, but the following 16 bottlings were all called for in some way, shape, or form:
Ardbeg 10-year-old scotch
Bowmore Legend Islay Scotch
Chivas Regal scotch
Dewar’s White Label scotch
Famous Grouse scotch whisky
Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch whisky
Johnnie Walker Green Label scotch whisky
Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch
McClellends Islay Scotch
Naked Grouse scotch whisky
Oban 14-yr-old scotch
Pig’s Nose scotch whisky
Sheep Dip 8-Year-Old blended scotch whisky
(And please note that the vast majority of these whiskies are very distinctive, indeed.)
Tequila and Mescal
Nine of the 101 recipes chosen called for either tequila or mezcal this year, and although Don Julio faired well, with 2 mentions, it was the relatively small brand of Ocho tequila that led the pack this year, showing up in 3% of the total recipes. ”Price be damned, it’s quality that bartenders seek,” noted Regan, “and Ocho is one fabulous bottling.”
Three different mezcals showed in this category, too, and all of them hail from the house of Del Maguey: Vida, Chichicapa, and Tobala. ”For the most part bartenders seem to be using mezcal as an accent, rather than a base,” notes Regan, “it’s great to watch this generation put everything into perspective.
"Many of today’s bartenders shun vodka, it’s true," says Regan, "but the best of the best cocktailians know exactly how, when, and where to use it." Two flavored vodkas—one cranberry, and one apple—were among the six bottlings that made the list; Stolichnaya was called for twice, and Absolut and Beluga bottlings were each mentioned once.
Six bourbons, 11 ryes, and one Tennessee whiskey graced the recipes in this year’s 101BNC, and although there was no leader in the pack of bourbons, it was the Rittenhouse rye that took the cake in 3 of the 11 bottlings called for. Dickel Rye followed up with two mentions making us think that, after lying more or less fallow for the past decade or more, Dickel’s Tennessee distillery is poised to make a comeback—George Dickel No. 12 was the one Tennessee whiskey in the American whiskey category.
Bulleit bourbon, and Bulleit rye were both in this year’s lineup, and that came as no real surprise to Regan. ”Bulleit seems to be going from strength to strength,” he says, “and I see it alongside all the staple high-end bottlings all over the world.” The other whiskeys called for in this category—with one mention each—were: Buffalo Trace bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon, Evan Williams Black Label bourbon, Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Jim Beam Rye, Old Overholt rye, Russell’s Reserve 6-year-old rye, and Wild Turkey 101 Rye.
Two recipes in this batch of 101BNC called for generic Irish Whiskey, and two ore cocktails called for specific brands—Jameson, and Redbreast. ”There’s so much room for growth in the Irish Whiskey category,” says Regan. ”It’s so perfect for mixing, but nobody seems to be paying much attention to the cocktail crowd when it comes to whiskey from the Emerald Isle.”
Can you say Chartreuse? A whopping 12 recipes in this list of 101 Best New Cocktails called for Chartreuse (6 green/6 yellow). The other major players this time around were Luxardo maraschino liqueur (7), Bénédictine and St. Germaine (6 each), Cherry Heering and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (5 each), Drambuie (3), Cointreau, Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur, Galliano, and Strega were each called for twice (as was generic banana liqueur), and rounding out the list of 73 liqueurs called for this time around, with one mention each, were Becherovka, Berentzen Apfelkorn, Big O ginger liqueur, Bitter Truth Pimento Dram, Choya Ume Excellent liqueur, Combier Pamplemousse Liqueur, crème de cacao (white), crème de violette, dark crème de cacao, Giffard Lichi Li liqueur, Grand Marnier, Licor 43, Luxardo Plum Liqueur, Parfait Amour, Pimiento Dram (generic), Rothman & Winter Orchard apricot liqueur, Sambuca, St. Elizabeth’s All-spice Dram, and Swedish Punsch.
”The fact that Chartreuse led this charge came as no surprise to me at all,” says Regan, “bartenders love Chartreuse, and it’s an ingredient that adds layers and layers of complexity to a cocktail. Similarly, Luxardo maraschino, Domaine de Canton ginger, and Bénédictine are ingredients long popular with mixology mavens.”
”Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao is a horse to watch,” he adds noting that it outshone Cointreau quite handily this year, “and I’m happily surprised to see that Cherry Heering has found favor again on the backbar.”
Sherry and other Fortified Wines
Seven sherries and five ports made their way into this year’s chosen cocktails, and style-wise, it was Pedro Ximenez sherry that led the charge, being included in five of the 12 recipes noted. ”No particular brand led the way,” says Regan, “but style-wise, today’s bartenders know what they’re doing with fortified wines, and they are doing it very well, indeed.” One dry sherry, 1 oloroso sherry, 4 ruby ports, and one tawny port were the other styles that graced the list.
Angostura Aromatic bitters is still the most popular bitters on the market, and 16 bartenders used it in their drinks this year. Regans’ Orange Bitters No.6 and “generic” orange bitters were each called for in 5 drinks (with Angostura Orange and Bitter Truth Orange bottlings each being called for twice). The rest of the bitters, each gaining just one or two mentions, were Adam Elmegirab’s Aphrodite Bitters, Bergamot Bitters, Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters, Bitter Truth lemon bitters, Bitter Truth’s celery bitters, Bittercube Lemon Tree bitters, Bittermen’s Hellfire Bitters, Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters, Burlesque Bitters, Chocolate Bitters, Creole bitters, Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters, Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s bitters, Dutch’s Colonial Cocktail bitters, Fee Brothers Old Fashion bitters, Fee Brothers Peach Bitters, Fee Brothers plum bitters, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters (3 mentions), Hella Citrus Bitters, Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters, Lavender Bitters, Miracle Mile Bergamot Bitters, Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili bitters, Mozart Dry Chocolate Bitters (3 mentions), Peychaud’s Bitters, Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters, and Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters.
”There’s bound to be a sort-out in the bitters business soon,” says Regan, noting that the number of new bottlings just seem to keep growing and growing, “and the good news is that, after the shakedown, we’ll be left with the best of the best. And to think that bitters were almost forgotten by many bartenders back in the 1980s.”
Odds and Ends
Without comment, here’s a look at some of the most interesting supplemental ingredients I came across this year:
Black Pepper Syrup
burning cinnamon stick
Earl Grey honey syrup
Edible disco dust, as garnish
Ginger Tea Foam**, as garnish
Grilled Grapefruit Juice
Grilled Lime Juice
Gunpowder Green Tea Simple Syrup
Lapsang Souchong Syrup
mesquite-smoked Don Julio Anejo Tequila
Olde English Orange Marmalade
oolong green tea raspberry syrup
Orange Flower Water
premium aged balsamic vinegar
Ras el Hasun Spice
Rooibos Infused Syrup
Root Beer Honey: mix 16 oz clover honey and .125 oz root beer oil extract in 16 oz hot water. Mix well, allow to cool, and refrigerate.
Sweetened Sencha green tea
Here’s a list of the bartenders whose recipes were chosen this year (alpha by first name)
Aaron Feder when he designed the cocktail menu at OUNCE Taipei, Taiwan.
Adam Harness, Cafe Maude, Minneapolis, MN.
Adrian Gomes, The Corpse and Cocktail, Aberdeen, Scotland.
Alex Negranza, Liberty Bar, Seattle
Anthony DeSerio, Coastal Gourmet Group. Aspen Restaurant/Latitude 41 Shipyard Tavern, Mystic, CT.
Benjamin Davies, Oddfellows Chester, Cheshire, UK.
Billy Helmkamp, The Whistler, Chicago, IL.
Bob Brunner, Paragon Restaurant & Bar, Portland, Oregon
Carl Wenger, Shady Lady Saloon, Sacramento, CA
Carol Donovan, Intoxicatingly Fun Cocktails, Chicago, IL.
Chad Larson, Cafe Maude at Loring, Minneapolis, MN.
Charalabos “Babis” Spiridakis, Cocktail Bar Passo Doble, Mykonos, Greece.
Chris Hannah, French 75 Bar , New Orleans
Chris Harrington, Subject, NYC
Christopher Day, Honeycut, Los Angeles
Christopher James, The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse Station, NJ.
Claire Prideaux, Il Lido Italian Canteen, Cottesloe, Western Australia
Cynthia Turner, Imperial Life, Asheville, North Carolina
Daniel Brancusi, Vitae, New York City.
Daniel Dufek, Hi Hat Lounge, Milwaukee, WI.
David A. Roth, Pigs Eye Pub , Hartford, Connecticut
Dee Allen , 399, Perth, Australia
Devender Sehgal, New Delhi, India.
Diana Haider, The Parlour , Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland
Dimitris Kiakos, Bartender/owner at the Gin Joint, Athens , Greece
Donnie Pratt, Cucina 24, Asheville, North Carolina
Ektoras Binikos, 2nd Floor on Clinton, New York
Eric Grenier, Honor Kitchen & Cocktails, Emeryville , CA
Eric Tecosky, Jones Hollywood, West Hollywood, CA.
Foxyie Wong, The Soul, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Francesco Cione, Caffè Baglioni at the Carlton Hotel, Milano, Italy.
Francis P. Schott, co-owner of Catherine Lombardi and Stage Left restaurants in New Brunswick
Frank Caiafa, Peacock Alley, The Waldorf=Astoria, New York City.
Frederic Yarm, Cocktail Virgin Blog, Somerville, MA
Fredo Ceraso, Loungerati, New York City
Geoffrey Wilson, Loa, New Orleans, LA.
George Megalokonomos, Food Mafia, Glyfada, Athens, Greece
Giuseppe Gallo, Purple Bar at Sanderson Hotel, London, UK.
Giuseppe Santamaria, Boutique Bar / Ohla Hotel, Barcelona, Spain
Giuseppe Santamaria, Ohla Hotel - Boutique Bar, Barcelona, Spain
Gorge Camorra, Cloud9 bar, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Humberto Marques, 1105 Cocktail Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark
Iain McPherson, Panda and Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland
Jason Walsh, CocktailLogic.com, Brooklyn, NY
Jayce Kadyschuk , Clive’s Classic Lounge, Victoria, Canada
Jen Riley, Red House/Le Tiki Lounge, Paris
Jens Kerger, Pinta Cocktailbar, Dresden, Germany
Jinjur Van Vogelpoel, Red House, Paris
Joanne Spiegel, Mercury Bar West, New York City.
Joseph Boley, Red House, Paris
Joshua Powell, Bar 44, Penarth, South Glamorgan, Welsh Wales, UK.
Joy Napolitano, Elle Restaurant, Rome, Italy
Julien Lopez, Papa Doble, Montpellier, France
Kate McDonald, Veneto Lounge, Victoria, BC.
Katrin Reitz, La Dee Da, Bad Honnef Am Rhein, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.
Kelvin Wood, The Soul , Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Kyle Mathis, Taste Bar , St. Louis, Missouri
Lee Morris, The Alchemist, Leeds, UK
Leo Lahti, Pustervik, Göteborg, Sweden
Leonardo Leuci, Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, Rome, Italy.
Leslie Ross, Virtuoso Selections, Austin, TX
Lindsay Laubenstein, Enoteca Emilia, Cincinnati, OH
Marek Vojčarčik, U.N.C.L.E., Bangkok, Thailand
Mariano Garcia Ibanez , Banker`s Bar, Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona.
Mark Holmes, Vanilla Rooms, Cardiff, Welsh Wales
Massimo La Rocca, Ohla Hotel’s Boutique Bar, Barcelona, Spain.
Maxime Hoerth, Le Bar du Bristol, Paris, France
Mel James, BC’s Kitchen, Lake St. Louis, MO.
Michael Shea, Rum Club, Portland, OR
Michael Stringer, Michael-Stringer.com & Hire The Barman, London
Monica Berg, Aqua Vitae, Oslo, Norway
Moses Laboy, Los Americanos, New York.
ms. franky marshall, The Dead Rabbit/The Tippler, New York
Natalie Jacob, Dutch Kills, Long Island City, NY.
Nick Caputo, The Priory Tavern, London
Nick Koumbarakis, Orphanage, Cape Town, Western
Nicolas Michel, The bar at the Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Oron Lerner, Mapal Bar,Haifa, Israel
Patrick Halloran, The Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN.
Payman Bahmani, PDT, New York
Phoebe Esmon , Emmanuelle, Philadelphia
Reinhard Pohorec, The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel, London.
René Förster, Twist Cocktail Bar, Innside, Dresden, Germany
René Kronsteiner, Sea Cloud Cruises, Hamburg, Germany
Richard Yarnall, Orange County Bartenders’ Cabinet, CA
Rob McHardy, Silencio, Paris, France.
Sandy Levine, The Oakland, Ferndale, MI
Scott Diaz, Elliott’s Oyster House, Seattle, WA
Scott Kennedy, Rubirosa, New York City
Seth Bregman , Bardo Cocktails, Oakland, CA
Seth Laufman, Burritt Room, San Francisco, CA.
Sian Ferguson, 99 Bar and Kitchen, Aberdeen, Scotland.
Steve Shur, Boston College Club, Boston, Ma
Takumi Watanabe, The Sailing Bar, Kibi, Sakurai, Nara, Japan
Tess Posthumus , Door 74, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Thomas Newcomb, The Continental Room, Fullerton, CA
Tim Rabior, Oddfellows, Miami Beach
Tim Robinson, Twist, London
Valdez Campos, Manifesto, Kansas City, MO
Zachary Nelson , The Continental Room, Fullerton, CA”
Source: gaz regan
Sipping: Ten Ren’s 913 Ginseng Oolong