Anyone familiar with Providence, RI knows that we love our food and beverages and are constantly innovating.
Seasonal cocktails are an opportunity to try out new recipes to warm or cool customers’ palates and employ flavors that are popular during different times of the year. We scouted around to find a sampling of seasonal cocktails concocted by the inventive mixologists of the Creative Capital.
A Beehive of Local Flavors
The Eddy, a cozy downtown haven tucked away on Eddy Street (not surprisingly), is well-known for its cocktails, such as the Bees on Bees on Knees made with Malfy gin, Cheongsam smokey tea liqueur, lemon, yuzu honey, and smoked sea salt. For the fall season, the Eddy brought in its beloved Old Fashioned on Draft with Old Grand Dad bonded, old fashioned syrup, and angostura bitters–yes, on draft! The Flamenco is another seasonal addition, combining Peloton de la Muerta mezcal, Oloroso sherry, lime cordial, lime, and olive for what Eddy bartenders describe as a smoky, often-ordered cold weather drink.
One unique menu we found is at New Harvest Coffee & Spirits in the Arcade Providence downtown, called Little Lebowski Autumn Achievers. The ten drinks listed range from The Dude: chai-infused vodka, homemade irish cream, Becherovka and cold brew, taking full advantage of the shop’s caffeinated offerings; to da Fino, made with Mad River Maple Cask Rum, Lustau Fino Puerto Fino sherry, Flag Hill cranberry liqueur, and Clement Creole shrub; The Jesus, consisting of El Buho mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Xocolatl mole bitters, and Espresso; to perhaps the most inventive, or at least, the most amusing drink on the menu, The Nihilist: an empty glass.
Bar Manager Ben Terry, who devised the list at New Harvest, shared that he finds it easier coming up with a menu based around a theme. Previous seasonal menus have included Summer Slammers with drinks named after 80’s and 90’s pro wrestlers, and a cold weather menu themed around Twin Peaks with drink names like Agent Dale Cooper, Laura Palmer, and the Root of All Evil. Whether or not the name or the recipe is created first is somewhat of a chicken/egg scenario and varies depending on the drink.
Low-key, welcoming Cook and Brown public house on Hope Street in the East Side has a Hot Drink with the evocative menu description, “It gets the people going”–a hot toddy made with mezcal and tart instead of heavily spiced and, true to its byline, is an undisputed crowd pleaser. Other concoctions highlighting traditional fall flavors are the Malt Whitman, with Four Roses bourbon, cherry heering, black walnut bitters, and maple, as well as the Check, Please, with Bonal Vermouth, cognac, Lairds apple brandy, Becherovka, and apple bitters.
Also on the East Side in Wayland Square, Evan Gravell at The Salted Slate shared that their menu rotates between four to eight times a year with new changes to the food. Their Salty Slate cocktail is a staple, made from house-infused vodka and grapefruit juice with a salt-and-sugar rim. Two big fall hitters this year have been the Apple Cranberry Old Fashioned and the Rocky Port with Rock and Rye, White Port, and dry vermouth. All infusions are made in-house; Rock and Rye incorporates rye, rock candy, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, citrus rinds, and dried apricots.
West Side Flavor Heights
Providence’s traditionally hip West Side boasts its own seasonal offerings. The atmospheric, dark wood-paneled lounge at The Avery in Luongo Square is a destination for cocktail aficionados. Its bartenders shared that two to three drinks are added each season to its staple list of items offered year round.
This winter, their seasonal newcomers are the Cocoa en Fuego with Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, tequila, creme de cacao over ice with a chocolate kiss on top–a charming detail, as well as the Christmas Tree Shoppe, made with Coole Swan irish cream, Domain de Canton, and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram served over ice with nutmeg, named after a classic Rhode Island-based retailer selling discounted necessities, novelty items, and decor. Avery bartenders collaborate to come up with new menu items, but always try to be fun and different and stay on-trend; one noted that fernet is the big ingredient du jour (and we saw that evidenced in almost every menu we researched), as well as chartreuse swizzles.
The Grange on Broadway is known for its drinks as well as its excellent vegetarian food; all three bartenders meet twice to pitch ideas and then finalize new drink menus. Winning mixes this fall have been the Three of a Pear with tequila, pear brandy, lavender-pear syrup and lime; the King’s County with rye whiskey, cardamaro, zucca, maraschino, and angostura & Jerry Thomas bitters, and the Gardening at Night, made from Pimms, gin, beet-apple-ginger syrup, lemon, soda water, and cucumber. All three will be transitioning into the new menu, coming out in a couple of weeks.
Nearby Ogie’s Trailer Park on Westminster Street takes a different approaching, staying true to its quirky, 1960’s Southwestern/West Coast trailer park theme and decor by offering only traditional cocktails but changing much of the menu seasonally: for fall, they spotlighted the Jack Rose, Martinez, Blood & Sand, Rob Roy, Pink Squirrel, and Champagne Cocktail.
There were too many inspired PVD haunts to cover in just one article, but in future seasons we’ll bring more more names and creative menus into the mix. We hear the rooftop Providence GPub downtown has a summer special involving a berry popsicle melted into sparkling wine, but while the cold weather is here, we’ll enjoy those mezcal toddys and fernet.