9 Go-To Beverage Recommendations from the Experts

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Ashley Bard
Large-format cocktails

Area Four, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Any drink on our menu can be made into a large-format cocktail. What is better than getting a massive bowl filled with alcohol, fun garnishes, and smoking dry ice?” — Tyler Smith, Boston general manager 

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Whiskey, plus Midnight Run and Barrel-Aged Manhattan cocktails

Husk Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina

“Generally whiskey, since that is what we are known for. As far as cocktails go, I always push the Midnight Run (bourbon, Fernet-Branca, bonal, chamomile tea, cucumber, and lemon) or our Barrel-Aged Manhattan (whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, barrel-rested for at least 30 days). Both are great ways to get people into drinking whiskey and are completely different in flavor.” — Justin Simko, Charleston bar manager

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Jessica Fey

Holy Grale, Louisville, Kentucky

“It depends what the customer wants—people tend to have very specific and different interests in beer. If they don’t know what they want, we would suggest a flight of beers so they can find something that speaks to them.” — Lori Beck, co-owner

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Dorothée Brand
Champagne + chicken

Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor, Seattle

“I’m always about the particular situation and what it calls for, but I do like to tell people that Champagne and fried chicken together are divine.” — Sarah Penn, owner/beverage director

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flickr: Valters Krontals

Rum Club, Portland, Oregon

“The Rum Club Daiquiri is my most recommended drink for people who are new to Rum Club or people who have never gotten the chance to try real daiquiri. Our Rum Club Daiquiri is six ingredients: añejo rum, fresh lime, maraschino, demerara, angostura bitters, and absinthe. From there, I usually recommend trying a Dealer’s Choice Daiquiri where your bartender will make a variation of a daiquiri of their choice—making subtle changes like using a different rum, different type of sugar, maybe a little liqueur, and then the customer gets to compare and contrast. This really shows off what you can do with rum and what a daiquiri should taste like.” — Michael Shea, owner

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Bold reds and amaro

Iron Gate, Washington, D.C.

“Obviously this depends on the guest and what they are looking for. Recently, it's been bolder reds like Aglianico from Campania and Basilicata or Xinomavro from Naousa in Macedonia (not the country). With a list the size of ours, we have a variety of options to go with what people are looking for.” — Oliver Meade, wine director

“Whichever new amaro [liqueur] we've brought in most recently. We have a solid group of regular guests and others that come in excited to try whatever new thing we have. Lately, it's been Amaro dell’Etna from Sicily, a slightly smoky, earthy, and bitter orange-forward amaro.”— Nick Farrell, spirits manager

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Meghan Leigh
Jasmine beer

Band of Bohemia, Chicago

“Making a delicate beer with nuances of jasmine rice and jasmine green tea, we only add basic two-row and Vienna malt. It's lightly floral with a delicate nose and mouthfeel, however, we have found that this particular beer can stand up to some serious food. It's a very good all-around brew.” — Michael Carroll, brewer and co-owner

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Gracias Madre
Holy Molé, White Mezcal Negroni, Alternative Medicina cocktails

Gracias Madre, West Hollywood, California

“I always get a feel for what our guests normally enjoy and what they feel like experiencing that day. Some of my favorite cocktails for guests that want an aromatic, spirit-forward cocktail are Holy Molé (my riff on a black Manhattan), and my new White Mezcal Negroni made with green chiles. For guests that want something citrus-based and refreshing, I’ve been recommending my Alternative Medicina with yuzu, hops, ginger, and CBD (cannabidiol).” — Maxwell Reis, beverage director

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Jody Horton
Japanese whisky

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, Austin, Texas

“Around 2012, Japanese whisky took a certain turn toward chic, but coincidentally Japanese whisky production slowed down due to low demand around 2008, so all those beautiful age-statement whiskies are drying out very fast, making allocation and prices a bit tricky. Luck was on our side curating a substantial Japanese whisky menu of 30 different varieties. (Luck sometimes has more to do with relationships). Nikka Taketsuru 17-year is an expression that shouldn’t be passed up whenever you cross its path. 21+ age labels are stellar and elegant in their own right, but sometimes there’s a prime age where whisky is so fascinating and dynamic per sip, and this is certainly one of them.”-Michael Phillips, assistant general manager and beverage director