Local small-batch spirits have been shouldering their way onto back bars for a few years now. And so sipping locally has been becoming easier in Northeast Ohio—as long as you liked it neat. Now, with a fresh twist of mixers and mix-ins on the market, a homemade cocktail is finally possible. Take inspiration from these finds, and toast to Cleveland drinking.
Happy Hour Cleveland
Aesthetics count with cocktails. It’s what’s in the glass, yes, but it’s also the glass itself. Marie Teckmyer has you covered. Her shop stocks everything that aspiring mixologists (and enthusiastic drinkers) need. Where to start? No one should be without a proper mixing glass. And while any old stirrer will do the trick, a nice bar spoon adds a festive touch, and a groovy name. One with a fork at the end for picking garnishes is called a sucket; with a muddler, it’s a mazagran.
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Molly’s Crafted Mixers
The decision to make mixers was easy enough. So too, what to use. “Whatever’s in season,” Molly Smith says. “The idea starts from the farm,” not with a cocktail in mind. Patterson Farm apples turn into a Spiced Apple Ginger Shrub; local honey into Honey Bee-T made with beets, lemon, coriander, and ginger. The latter adds a deep red hue and sweet earthiness to a gin and tonic.
Commercial grenadine is sticky sweet and chemically red and, trust us, you don’t want to know what’s in it. Which is why most don’t even realize true grenadine comes from pomegranates (grenade is French for the fruit). “When I was little, I thought it was the syrup left over from maraschino cherries,” Clark Pope says. His, though, is the real deal: pomegranate juice, sugar, and orange flower water. Float it on some Watershed gin, or in a tequila sunrise.
Yes, the ice matters—no one likes a watery glass of chips and cubes. Aesthetics aside, a solid piece melts more slowly, keeping cocktails cool, and strong, longer. Will Hollingsworth at the Spotted Owl in Tremont buys four-foot blocks of bubble-free carving ice from Olmsted Ice and chips off blocks, bricks, and spheres as needed. Consider it an ingredient and a garnish.