Shaken or Stirred? – cocktails of the first coast

The Volstead DISH-COCKTAILS_volstead_bakIn the 1920s, the Volstead Act outlawed alcohol and Prohibition began. It speaks to our desire of the forbidden that this period is when the cocktail came into its own. Downtown, a swank little joint has opened up to celebrate the ethos of that time, with a modern twist. For a bit of theatre with your mixed drink, order the Baked Apple. Fire is involved, and it tastes like a grown-up cider with a bite. Fans of the bubbly will want to quaff the easy-drinkin’ French 76. Be careful; the champagne, orange liqueur and lemon juice combo is dangerous. 115 West Adams Street.


Black Sheep Black Sheep’s food menu is certainly one of the most beloved, but food’s not the only thing they craft with care. Their cocktails are well-designed and frankly, just not all that frou-frou. When you order something called a Dusty Boot or a Clay Marrow, you’re going to sound cool, and more importantly you’re going to be drinking that delicious alcoholic gravitas. The handsome face of the Clay isn’t just a gimmicky fade; that Angostora bitters floater, countered by sweet agave and barrel-aged gin, will help you enjoy the ride. We also love the Boot’s cracked black pepper & smoked salt rim. There’s a reason this beauty’s stayed on the menu. 1534 Oak Street. moxie

DISH-COCKTAILS_Moxie_Cosmo1Walk Don’t Run is the zany name of a cocktail you actually should be rushing to try at Moxie, if you adore a good cherry. These dark little pieces of Italian heaven have everything we love about canned cherries (the sweetness, the over-the-top flavor) but also manage not to taste artificial. As for the drink itself, it’s as good and as high-quality as the garnish, anchored by Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon, apertif wine, Aperol liqueur, Fee Brothers Bitters and, finally, rimmed by orange zest. But the very first drink we fell in love with at Moxie was the aptly named Fall Cup, which tastes like the freshness of a Spring day and the richness of Fall. It’s a brandy-based beverage, backed up by the bite of some Fever Tree gingerale, plus apple, lemon and cucumber. 4972 Big Island Drive.

DISH-COCKTAILS_The-Sidecar_ sidecar

Behind Sidecar are the dynamic cocktail-slinging duo of Matt Carson and Kurt Rogers. They’ve got a great resume (Orsay and Black Sheep), so we’re sure they’ll be doing it right! Cocktails will feature local citrus flavor and a three-pronged menu: classic, modern and guest star. Guest star drinks will rotate out, and they’ll be determined by, get this, a cocktail contest Sidecar will hold on a regular basis. Excuse us while we obsessively check their Facebook for an open date. 1406 Hendricks Avenue.

DISH-COCKTAILS_Orsay_Actionorsay Orsay has been handing out deliciously spicy cocktails for longer than most of the places on this list have been around. And, like the coolest hipster you know, they were doing it before everyone else caught on. For exclaimation points in your glass, look no further than their Crucial Taunt. The acidic pinapple-ginger shrub helps the heat of the Thai Chili infused Aperol to echo in the rum. Don’t worry, you’re not required to eat the garnish. On the other end of the spectrum is the lovely, lovely Snowbird, marked by a delightful swirl on an egg white powder foam. Mandarin Napolean (a liqueur made of tangerines in grape brandy), orange bitters and Pisco, a grape brandy from Peru, takes it up beyond the usual. 3630 Park Street.

DISH-COCKTAILS_blue_Bamboo_blue bamboo

Blue Bamboo’s cocktails are the unsung heroes of the Jacksoville cocktail scene. For something completely different, order one of their secret foam cocktails. Foam adds another, exciting dimension. Ask for the blood-orange margarita with “salt-air”, or for those that like their martinis extra-dirty, you can swoon over the olive brine foam. 3820 Southside Boulevard.


grape & grain // the parlour DISH-COCKTAILS_palour_atmos

Two venues hiding in one location! The Parlour’s a dimly lit super-cool jazz lair tucked behind the friendly package store and bar of the Grape & Grain. You can pick up a local cheese and a bottle of something on the way home at G&G, but you just might find yourself staying for a drink. As different as these two spaces are in atmosphere, they share one thing in common: people who are passionate about perfecting the finest cocktails possible. At the G&G we say go for the Clisby. Rosemary rules with the Florida Hiver at the Parlour. 2000 San Marco Boulevard.

About Erin Thursby