Cocktail culture is alive across the country, and imbibing has never been better. The cosmopolitan craze a la "Sex and the City" may have fueled the frenzy, but increasingly, cocktail-chic consumers are following in the footsteps of the recent artisanal food revolution, demanding quality spirits, fresh-squeezed juices and local ingredients whenever possible. Here are the hottest cocktails being served in seven major cities across the country.
Strata 6A, Boston
Who makes it: Rocca Kitchen and Bar
The background: Named after Route 6A, the popular scenic highway in Cape Cod, the Strata 6A is a spiffed-up version of what New Englanders refer to as the "Cape Codder"and a member of a family of cocktails known as "New England Highballs.
What you need: 3 oz. Grey Goose vodka, 1 oz. Grey Goose La Poire vodka, 2 oz. cranberry juice, splash of ginger beer, 3 or 4 leaves of fresh basil, 2 wedges of fresh lime.
How to make: In a martini shaker, muddle the basil and limes. Add ice, vodka and cranberry juice, and shake vigorously. Pour into a double old-fashioned glass or tumbler. Top with more ice, if necessary, and just a splash of ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel and swizzle stick.
Bonsai Martini, Philadelphia
Who makes it: Buddakan
The background: In 2005, former general manager Peter Smith wanted to create a bridge between Buddakan's Asian-inspired kitchen and the restaurant's trendy bar by bringing Asian flavors to the cocktail menu. He experimented with several different spirits before recognizing vodka's compatibility with cilantro.
What you need: 3 stalks of cilantro, 2 oz. Belvedere vodka, 3/4 oz. fresh lemon-lime juice, 1 1/4 oz. simple syrup,* sugar.
How to make: Muddle cilantro in a shaker; add remaining ingredients and strain into a martini glass with a sugared rim.
Redheaded Stepchild, New Orleans
Who makes it: Cafe Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar
The background: Although there are no redheaded stepchildren in the Brow family, members all cheer when a redheaded baby is born into the family. Lu is a redhead and the cayenne rim makes this drink a redhead, too.
What you need: 1 tsp. super-fine sugar, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 lemon wedge, 2 oz. peach brandy, 1 oz. Calvados, 1 oz. orange juice.
How to make: Combine the sugar and cayenne pepper on a saucer, and mix well. Wet half of the rim of a chilled martini glass with the lemon wedge, and dip it into the sugar-cayenne mixture; set aside. Combine the brandy, Calvados and orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into the prepared glass, and serve immediately.
The Pepper Smash, Los Angeles
Who makes it: comme ca
The background: Inspired by a classic cocktail, the whiskey smash, The Pepper Smash hits three main notes: savory, spicy and the subtle sweetness only honey can bring to a cocktail.
What you need: 2 oz. rye whiskey or bourbon, 4 lemon wedges, 2 to 3 basil leaves, 1 slice red bell pepper, 3/4 oz. honey.
How to make: Muddle all ingredients, except the whiskey. Add whiskey and shake four to five times with cracked ice. Strain into an empty rocks glass, and top with crushed ice. Garnish with a pepper and a lemon.
21 Hayes, San Francisco
Who makes it: Absinthe Brasserie & BarAbsinthe Brasserie & Bar
The background: Named for the San Francisco Muni bus line that chugs past Absinthe several times a day, Hollinger wanted to create a cocktail that would highlight the crisp, fresh and subtle flavors of cucumber.
What you need: 2 slices cucumber, plus 1 for garnish, 1/4 oz. Pimm's No. 1, 1 oz. Plymouth gin, 1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice, splash of simple syrup,* 3 cocktail onions (optional).
How to make: Muddle 2 slices of cucumber and the Pimm's No. 1 in the bottom of a mixing glass, breaking down the cucumber almost completely. Top with ice and the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake until cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the remaining slice of cucumber or a cocktail onion (if desired).
Cava de Flores, Seattle
Who makes it: Txori
The background: Inspired by the fresh smells and flavors of summertime in Spain (and best enjoyed on Txori's new patio), this refresher celebrates the bar's adoration of rose - "If it's pink, I will drink!" is their mantra.
What you need: 1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, 1/2 can/bottle San Pellegrino Aranciata, 3 oz. dry rose cava (chilled), orange slice or edible flower garnish (optional).
How to make: Pour liqueur and Aranciata into a champagne flute; fill glass with cava and garnish with an orange slice or edible flower.
The Daisy, New York City
Who makes it: Commerce Restaurant
The background: Paying homage to Commerce's historic West Village space, The Daisy honors the 1911 building's provocative beginnings as a speakeasy.
What you need: 3 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice, 1/3 oz. homemade grenadine (simply reduced pomegranate juice), a splash of prosecco, cherry garnish (optional).
How to make: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a cherry.
*Simple syrup: 1 part water, 1 part sugar; boil together until sugar melts. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.