Cocktails To Ease the Path From Winter to Spring

By Kathleen Willcox / Photography By Stan Horaczek | Last Updated March 21, 2017
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Cocktails, in essence, are alcoholic drinks consisting of one or more spirits mixed with other sweet, fizzy or rich ingredients.

Cocktails, in essence, are alcoholic drinks consisting of one or more spirits mixed with other sweet, fizzy or rich ingredients. Sometimes bitters join the party.

Cocktails, in essence, are alcoholic drinks consisting of one or more spirits mixed with other sweet, fizzy or rich ingredients. Sometimes bitters join the party.

The origin of the cocktail and the word itself is as disputed as the perfect recipe for a martini. After a decade-and-a-half of research, spirits historian David Wondrich concluded that the cocktail was popularized, if not invented, in the sprawling Hudson Valley region between Boston, Albany and New York City. (Thirsty for more? Read his addictive historical treatment of the cocktail Imbibe! published by TarcherPerigee.)

The Capital District remains home to some of the most delicious, imaginative alcoholic libations in the country, many of which utilize the products emerging from the exciting craft distillery movement in the region. At last count, there were more than 70 distilleries in New York State, up from just 10 in 2011.

Cocktails, in practice, are a story in and of themselves. The ingredients a bartender selects, the manner in which they are put together, the glass in which they are temporarily housed, the garnish thoughtfully selected to add a dash of whimsy or a note of solemnity, like jewelry. Cocktails tell the tale of a time, a region, the maker’s philosophy about life, without saying a word.

Inveterate story-chasers, writers and editors love a good cocktail. On one of Edible’s cherished editorial outings, the writing staff dined at Henry’s Tap Room in Saratoga. Mary Blair, Edible publisher, is still talking about the cocktail that bar manager Drew Janek whipped up for her from seasonal juices, local ingredients and New York spirits and bitters makers. We went back to Henry’s, plus a few of our other favorite watering holes, for some cocktails to inspire and sustain us on our journey from winter to spring. Cheers, dears! 

Henry Street Taproom's Amante Picante

The Amante Picante, which translates to Hot Lover, is a delightful way to ready the taste buds and warm the body for the coming spring ahead.
The Amante Picante, which translates to Hot Lover, is a delightful way to ready the taste buds and warm the body for the coming spring ahead.

Morgan & Co.'s Upstate Waldorf Astoria

Morgan & Co.'s drinks program focuses on classic cocktails made with modern techniques, local spirits and handmade mix-ins. 
Morgan & Co.'s drinks program focuses on classic cocktails made with modern techniques, local spirits and handmade mix-ins. 

Next Door Kitchen's Maple Bourbon Smash

Next Door Kitchen's cocktails utilize small-batch artisanal New York spirits, and all beers on tap are from the Empire State
Next Door Kitchen's cocktails utilize small-batch artisanal New York spirits, and all beers on tap are from the Empire State

9 Maple Ave.'s Cream Dream Cosmo

The iconic 40-seat jazz and martini lounge 9 Maple Avenue has the largest selection of single malt Scotches between Manhattan and Montreal and a martini menu with more than 250 options.
The iconic 40-seat jazz and martini lounge 9 Maple Avenue has the largest selection of single malt Scotches between Manhattan and Montreal and a martini menu with more than 250 options.
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