There is nothing more luxurious than sitting back and relinquishing control to a seasoned expert.
Next time, let someone else do all the work for you. Omakase, the practice of allowing the chef to choose your meal adventure, has traditionally been the realm of Japanese restaurants. The skill and knowledge required to deliver such a feat, is what makes the experience so impressive.
Luckily, the cocktail world is catching on to this trend, to the delight of bar patrons everywhere. So, sidle up to one of these bars, sit back, and savor a perfectly curated list of bespoke cocktails, to put you in the holiday mood. Give your bartender the reins and enjoy the ride.
Boasting the western hemisphere’s largest spirit collection (at 3500 labels and counting), Canon in Seattle offers a secret drink option called the “Shrouded Roulette”, where the drink is a mystery and never repeated in a shift. But for the ultimate in opulence, the bartenders at Canon can make you any number of their vintage cocktails, featuring spirits from their extensive list, spirits that will likely be older than you. Try the Vintage Brandy Crusta with circa 1875 j.g. monnet cognac, c. 1930 Cointreau, c. 1960 maraschino, c. 1930 Peychaud’s bitters, and fresh lemon. Any one of their vintage cocktails will set you back about a grand or more, but drinking a piece of history really is priceless.
The Walker Inn, Los Angeles
The Walker Inn is nestled behind a speakeasy door inside the Normandie Club in Los Angeles. An omakase reservation grants you a seat at the exclusive bar, with an ephemeral menu that rotates every few weeks. Past menus include a reflective jaunt up the Pacific Highway, and a whimsical camp themed menu inspired by “Wet Hot American Summer”. Through the holidays, stop in to experience some holiday cheer as The Walker Inn brings to life your favorite “Holiday Scoundrels” with drinks for The Grinch (Cranberry “Wine”), Jack Frost (Tequila, Pear, Lime, Menthe), Scrooge (Brandy, Apricot, Ale, and Cider, Wassail), and 7 more bah-humbug-ers.
The Aviary, Chicago
Known for their eye catching presentations, using molecular gastronomy to heighten the cocktail experience, The Aviary in Chicago delivers a dazzling imbibing experience that will surprise and delight. The omakase options at Aviary let you decide just how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. Choose from a 3-course cocktail progression or step up to a 5-course tasting menu with paired food, or if you’re feeling especially indulgent, splurge for the 7-course Kitchen Table Experience, with cocktails and food presented by the chefs inside the Aviary Kitchen.
Settled in the basement of Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, Prohibition is a love song to a bygone era. Give up some control, and let head bartender Robyn Gray be your mood ring with a flight of cocktails based on your emotions. Are you feeling adventurous, flirtatious, or contemplative? Have a flight of cocktails for liquid therapy and you’re sure to find your spirits lifted.
Green Russell, Denver
The Green Russell is tucked behind the swinging door of a pie shop in Denver. While bartender’s choice is always an option, most patrons enjoy pairing a cocktail with their slice of pie, which can be ordered at the bar. But if you want to let the bartender be your driver for the evening, try the flight of “Smoke Signals” where bar manager Alex Lerman takes you on a journey of smoky cocktails.
Drink in Boston is based around the very essence of the omakase concept: let your bartender be your guide. According to head bartender Ezra Star, there is no menu at Drink; instead, bartenders work from a list of 300 house cocktails in their head, as well as a number of seasonal cocktails that can be mixed and matched to fit a patron’s mood and sensibility. Don’t worry, Drink’s bartenders are trained to think of cocktails in sequence so that their guests can experience a new ingredient at the center of a drink or discover how a sprit changes in context from cocktail to cocktail. You are in capable hands when you surrender control for the evening.