HOT AND COOL: Reinterpret Bloody Marys with the hot pepper touch.
JUICED UP: El Torito Restaurants' Mexico City menu promo offered the Agua de Granada (sweetened lime and pomegranate juices), Granada Margaritas, and the Key Lime Colada.
We tend to take for granted that which is within reach day after day. It's the "familiarity breeds contempt" thing. Such is the lowly regard in which juices and waters are held in the contemporary bars and lounge scene. It's ironic, inasmuch as they are the cornerstones of mixology. With few notable exceptions, great cocktails owe their existence to the inclusion water or juice. They are, after all, literally the eaux de vie¯the waters of life.
On the unlikely chance that you are among those who think juices and waters have had their day, that they have lost a step on the field of energy drinks and isotonics, think again. There's a promised land of greatness waiting to be created behind your bar, and juice and water can lead you there.
Here are the best moneymaking ideas to exit our think tank on how to leverage the cache of juices and waters behind your bar.
• Bourbon and Branch: Pairing fine whiskeys with spring water sourced from the whiskey's own back yard is about as good as it gets. Adding a splash of Kentucky limestone spring water to a great bourbon is a classy touch appreciated by novice and enthusiast alike. The same can be said about serving spring water from Scotland or Ireland to an aficionado enjoying a dram of malt.
•Fourth Dimension: It was the added splash of cranberry to a Kamikaze that gave birth to the Cosmopolitan. Many of today's cocktails are constructed of little more than a base spirit and two modifiers, leaving ample opportunity to add a juice or two to smooth things out and give the drink more dimension.
• Margarita Perfection: Although now the country's most frequently requested cocktail, many give little thought to its construction. The Margarita is not a combination of bar mix, tequila and triple sec. Rather, it is made with a base of both lime and lemon, typically with emphasis on the lime. For a true stroke of genius, add in a splash of grapefruit juice, a juice that seems to have a special affinity for tequila.
• Brut Strength: Little did Dom Perignon realize when he invented Champagne that he'd created a wine just hankering to be mixed with fresh juice. Champagne marries with about every type of fruit juice or purèe imaginable. The famed Mimosa is the combination of orange juice and Champagne. Other classics include the Bellini (peach purèe), Poinsettia (cranberry juice), Puccini (tangerine juice), Moon Walk (grapefruit juice), Pizzetti (orange and grapefruit juice), Jersey Jack (apple juice), Bikini (passion fruit syrup), Ruddy Mimosa (orange and cranberry juice), and Champagne Hawaiian (pineapple juice).
• No Pain in Spain: Among the many contributions Spain has made to civilization over the centuries, high on the list is the ultimate thirst quencher, Sangria. Growing in popularity in the U.S., Sangria is a dreamy blend of red wine, brandy and a bevy of juices. Throw in handfuls of fresh fruit, let steep and enjoy.
• Seltzer is Passé: Carbonated water is to mixology what Salisbury steak is to the culinary arts. Instead of committing club soda (i.e. carbonated tap water) to your drinks, why not use San Pellegrino or Perrier? Choose the amount of carbonation you'd like to feature in your drinks and select the sparkling water to suit.
• Hot Toddies: Hot water is an infallible delivery system for whiskeys and brandies. Add a lemon wheel or a clove or two and you've got the makings of a classically structured specialty.
• Varietals Rule: The ultimate goal of a successful beverage program is to offer its clientele singularly delicious drinks, ones significantly different than what the competition is promoting. To that end, many are featuring varietal fruit juices in their drink making. Topping the list of hot varietal juices are Kaffir lime, Meyer Lemon, Ruby Red grapefruit, Blood orange, white cranberry, tangerine, blueberry and pomegranate.
• Coffee and Tea Bliss: The better the water, the better the coffee or tea. Consider your options. Tap water can contribute an off-taste to coffee or tea and potentially damage equipment. Distilled water results in a vapid brew. One secret for making great coffee or tea is using a spring water that's up to the task.