By the time New Year’s Eve arrives in all its desperate, aching, thank-god-this-crap-is-almost-over relief, it will have been eight and a half months since I ordered a drink at a bar. (Never thought I’d say those words.) And while I’ll be planted at home on December 31, that hasn’t stopped me from fantasizing about grabbing a stool opposite one of my favorite bartenders and saying, simply: “Gimme something that’s a proper send-off to this flaming garbage pile of a year.” No, I won’t be lounging at impossibly chic Aziza, sipping on a Demario Wallace cocktail. I won’t be cozied up in the corner booth at Bon Ton with one of Keyatta Mincey Parker’s cool creations. But I was able to snag their recipes for the drinks that might’ve been, had 2020 turned out to be different sort of year. For good measure, I’ve also collected a recipe from the owner of our Best New Bottle Shop, from star “Drinking Coach” Tiffanie Barriere, and from the new zero-proof cocktail book by a former Atlanta editor (for those of you in need of a nonalcoholic pick-me-up). Mix and shake these drinks at home to bid adieu to 2020—and to toast the bartenders we’ve sorely missed.
The Great Reset (aka Learn to F*ing Pivot)
From: Keyatta Mincey Parker
Cocktail programmer, director of A Sip of Paradise community garden, and founder of the Jim Project
Why This Drink? It was something I made up during the pandemic while I was stuck at home, with ingredients I typically have on hand. I really liked it, and it became a comforter.
Combine in a shaker:
1½ ounces Bombay Sapphire East gin
½ ounce Del Maguey Mezcal de Pechuga
1 ounce loose-leaf green tea (unsweet)
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Shake well and pour into a tall glass of ice.
Hold Onto Your Butts (And, If Possible, Some Good Memories)
From: Demario Wallace
Founder of Social Civics Cocktail Club
Why This Drink? 2020 was very sad and unpredictable—at times, exhilarating; at other times, numbing. It was filled with friends communing virtually, drive-by birthdays, days roaming in nature, social-distance happy hours, Zoom funerals, and home-office remodeling. We found time to get out to vote, protest, or walk around our neighborhood 10 times a day. We TikTokked and doomscrolled. We broke down, rebuilt, became plant parents, baked. (Remember that banana bread we all made back in April? This recipe channels that comfort into a cocktail.) We rescheduled, adjusted, and realigned. This year was filled with a lot of twists and turns, stops and gos, sudden drops, and slow climbs—and all you could possibly do, as Samuel L. Jackson famously says in Jurassic Park, is “hold onto your butts.”
Add to a glass vessel:
a pinch of salt
10 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters (yes 10, trust me)
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon of maple syrup
¼ ounce Tempus Fugit Crème de Banane Liqueur (or whatever banana liqueur you like, ’cuz that’s your business)
¼ ounce nocino (that’s a bitter walnut liqueur)
½ ounce Amontillado sherry
2 ounces ASW Resurgens Rye
Stir until the glass vessel is really cold and the liquid has almost doubled in volume. Strain into a fancy glass.
Ctrl Alt Delete
From: Tiffanie Barriere
The Drinking Coach; Instagram: @thedrinkingcoach
Why This Drink? 2020 brought the vibes for a lot of anger, pivoting, and perseverance. I have been on 320 Zoom meetings since March. Between cocktail demos, parties, and, of course, the meetings of the mind to change the world, the Zoom life has been insane. There are 365 days in the year. Do the math! This drink is a play on the classic ’80s cocktail called the Mind Eraser, which I chose as inspiration for obvious reasons. Also, adding booze to your coffee gives you energy and makes you feel ambitious. Adulting at its best.
Build this layered cocktail in a tall glass of ice by adding:
¼ ounce agave
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 ounce cold coffee
1 ounce tequila
Give the drink a gentle stir with a long spoon or straw. Top with club soda. Sip with a straw.
Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid
From: Cory Atkinson & Kristina Ferdinand
Atkinson is owner of Elemental Spirits Co.; Ferdinand is sales and beverage manager
Why This Drink? I feel fine. Do you feel fine? This boozy cocktail is a lot like 2020: In some ways, you won’t remember it; in others, you’ll never forget. Since no one can be in Times Square this year, we want to bring New York home to you with this classic riff on a New York sour. We’re using ruby port instead of a typical red wine float, which brings a richness. And with the spiced demerara syrup, you get something really unexpected (but not in that bad, 2020 way).
Combine in a shaker:
2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce spiced demerara syrup*
Shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Using a bar spoon, slowly pour 3/4 ounce ruby port over the back side of the spoon to float the port on top. Garnish with a dried apple slice.
*To make a batch of the syrup, heat 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan; add 1 cup demerara sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean, 3 cloves, and 1 cinnamon stick; stir until dissolved; let cool.
Sea Salt Shakerato
From: Julia Bainbridge
Author of the new zero-proof cocktail book Good Drinks (from which this recipe is sourced), creator of The Lonely Hour podcast, and former Atlanta magazine food editor. Instagram: @juliabainbridge
Why This Drink? Let’s do our best to shake off a salty 2020. This drink is sweet and savory and caffeinating. Onward!
Recipe (from Sahra Nguyen of Nguyen Coffee Supply in Brooklyn):
Combine in a shaker:
2½ ounces Vietnamese phin coffee or espresso
½ ounce whole milk
¾ ounce sweetened condensed milk
an inch of coarse sea salt
Shake for 10 to 15 seconds, until well chilled. Place a single, large ice cube in a rocks glass and double-strain the shakerato into the glass.
This article appears in our December 2020 issue.