My girlfriend and I like to go out to eat a lot, and probably one of the biggest complaints we have at the end of the meal is that the beverage options weren’t as good as the food menu. We have plenty of great meals that we enjoy tremendously, but afterwards we find ourselves saying that we wished we would have enjoyed a great cocktail with the meal. That’s why when we find a place that does have an outstanding bar program, we tend to go back there a lot.
Just like people pair wine with food, bartenders today are creating drink menus with cocktails that can either be enjoyed on their own or accompanying the meal. The same focus on fresh ingredients that is happening in the kitchen is also happening behind the bar as well. I remember as a kid thinking the Rusty Nail my grandfather drank was exotic. Now I wonder what he would think of the spicy margarita with fresh jalapeno and lime juice that I have when I’m enjoying my dinner.
As more and more locally owned restaurants open across the country, driven by chefs who want to share their heritage with the world, I am hopeful that many of them will be smart enough to realize the business sense it makes to have drinks that are as adventurous as the food. In the meantime, my girlfriend and I will still keep searching out the funky little restaurants where the food is great and the drinks are cold.