Sip Superlatives

Here are the most-ordered drinks from our roundup of restaurants with mimic-worthy beverage programs.

Matcha Painkiller cocktail

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, Austin, Texas

“If the numbers have to speak here, then people really love to be tricked into liking things they normally might shy away from. Our Matcha Painkiller is a house spin on a classic tiki cocktail (painkiller) that comprises a blend of rums, pineapple, coconut cream, and sometimes orange juice. Ours is based on the same principle with a couple modifications: buckwheat shochu and matcha tea. Matcha tea—being ubiquitous these days—was the comfort factor, but buckwheat shochu on its own is so funky it’s polarizing. Then we batched the potion and serve it on crushed ice in a ceramic lucky cat mug. Presentation can be everything sometimes and the cat mug was the Trojan horse (or cat) in getting people to drink buckwheat shochu! Honestly, I wasn’t sure it was going to work early on, but even now I’m shocked on the volume of shochu we’ve moved for just one menu item.” — Michael Phillips, assistant general manager and beverage director


Band of Bohemia, Chicago

“Each beer we brew, we find a complimentary spirit to be sipped alongside it—basically a boilermaker, or a “shot and a beer.” But, in this case, we can take beer—let’s say the McFennel’s dry Irish stout that has a 5.6 percent [ABV], bone dry with essences of charred fennel and toasted coriander, [that goes] great with Banhez mezcal as a sidecar. You sip one, sip the other, and continue with a journey.” — Michael Carroll, brewer and co-owner

Malibu Beach Barbie cocktail (large-format)

Area Four, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts

“It is gorgeous and interactive. It is served in a beach glass stuck into a sand and seashell filled bucket with a cocktail umbrella, crazy straw, and its very own Barbie. The drink itself is a fun riff on a classic Sex on the Beach and is easily the most ‘Instagrammable’ drink we have.” — Tyler Smith, Boston general manager

Lagers and IPAs

Holy Grale, Louisville, Kentucky

“Because our beer offerings are constantly changing, it is hard to say what sells best, but stylistically lagers and IPAs are what we go through the most of. As much as we love and appreciate the innovation happening in the craft beer community, at the end of the day, all we ever really want are simple, well-made, balanced, clean, and crisp pilsners. Beer doesn’t need to be complicated to be beautiful. We try to be evangelists for beers that accomplish this.” — Lori Beck, co-owner

Charleston Light Dragoon's Punch cocktail

Husk Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

“It is a rum- and black-tea based recipe from the late 1700s that is historically accurate. The drink itself is old, rum-based, and has Charleston history. We are focusing on classics and twists on them. Rum was America’s first real spirit consumed and Charleston was an important part of America’s development. Charleston also features the only remaining active tea plantation in the country. It checks all the boxes of what we want to provide: a simple but tasty cocktail with a good story.” — Justin Simko, Charleston bar manager

Sicilian wine

Iron Gate, Washington, D.C.

“The island of Sicily continues to generate a lot of interest. This island has so many different styles of wine to offer for a variety of dishes from our menu. It also shows the evolution of an island that was known for its bulk wine and Marsala to a place that has gained international recognition for wines from all over. From exceptional Marsalas from Marco De Bartoli on the the western part, to the DOCG wines of Cerasuolo di Vittoria and to the special wines that come from the still-erupting volcano that is Mount Etna on the eastern side of the island. Even with the recognition that it has now, there is still so much more to discover about this and other regions.” — Oliver Meade, wine director

Kale non-alcoholic cocktail and Penicillin cocktail

Rouge Tomate, New York City

“Our creation called Kale [uses] fresh ingredients such as kale juice, house-made ginger beer, and Bolivian pink salt. It’s refreshing, yet healthier. Our take on a penicillin is made with house-blended whiskey, barrel-fermented honey (grown on our rooftop), and finished with a jasmine-infused mezcal.” — Cristian Molina, beverage director

Purista cocktail

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood, California

“Our best-selling cocktail is, and always will be, our Purista. It exemplifies our beverage program because, in its simplicity, you’ll find nothing but purity and quality. It uses only fresh-pressed lime juice, agave, and homemade orange bitters to accentuate the base spirit we love so dear.” — Maxwell Reis, beverage director

Rothko cocktail and red wine

Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor, Seattle

Rothko cocktail and red wine Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor, Seattle “For cocktails, it’d be the Rothko, a cocktail I created using bourbon, brandy, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, lemon, orange, and Angostura and Regans’ Orange bitters. In spite of me offering lots of crisp options, Seattle is a red wine town, and they love our Bordeaux style blend from local winemaker Fall Line by the glass, showing that, at the end of the day, you always have to have the fallback that folks turn to.” — Sarah Penn, owner/beverage director

Rum Club Daiquiri

Rum Club, Portland, Oregon

“The Rum Club Daiquiri is easily the best selling drink on the menu. It serves as a perfect example of what we are trying to accomplish by reintroducing people to a drink they often mischaracterize or forget.” — Michael Shea, owner

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