Over the last two days you have heard about of favorites from the food side with our best bites and best desserts. Now for the part that really matters, best drinks of 2015.
Over the past year craft beer experienced a huge boom in central Arkansas, producing some of the best beers around. At the same time the local craft cocktail movement seemed to age and mature with many places around town producing consistently better cocktails with each menu.
Here are our favorite beers and cocktails from 2015.
Nighty Night from Lost Forty Brewing
This may be the most complex beer you ever drink. You can read all about the process here, but essentially it comes from beer aged in three different types of barrels and seven total. The result is a beer with multiple distinct tasting notes throughout the drink. Even if you are not a stout fan this is a beer to appreciate. -GH
Spiced Mojito at La Terraza Rum and Lounge
When rum is in your restaurant’s name, you had better get your rum cocktails right. La Terraza absolutely does that, with an unapologetic rum profile that gets a spicy kick in the pants. The level of heat is your choice, but we’ve this cocktail is unforgettable from mild to hot. – SS
El Presidente from The Pantry Crest / Pantry
Mezcal is slowly making its rounds in local drink menus, and the Pantry’s Bar Manger Gene Lee’s El Presidente is a great showcase of the spirit. A take on the Paloma, the drink offers a combination of Mezcal, Grapefruit Shrub, Lime Juice, Sea Salt, and a splash of Stiegl Radler. The smoke from the Mezcal and the citrus flavors are a definite summer match made in heaven. -BB
Katchiri’s Bier by Moody Brews
It’s just a farmhouse ale, but one sip shows off more nuance and attention to detail than an episode of Mad Men. At once easy to drink and wonderful to ponder, Josiah Moody’s wedding beer is a beautiful gift for all of us. – SS
The Grand Manhattan from The Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods
Amidst the creative cocktail craze, it’s alright to have a solid classic every now and then. The Pizzeria’s resident Mixologist, Dillon Garcia makes the perfect Manhattan – The Grand Manhattan. Incredibly smooth, the drink deserves to be enjoyed slowly, so you can taste the combination of Bulleit Bourbon, Grand Marnier, and Cocchi Sweet Vermouth. -BB
Laney Lipsey from The Fold
In all fairness, this is not a drink I would have ordered off the cocktail menu, but it quickly became one of the most addicting drinks I have ever had. The drink has jalapeño, strawberry, blanco tequila, lemon, cilantro, it really is the finishing spice of the jalapeño that makes you crave the next sip. -GH
The Sweet Potato Lemonade from South on Main
You never know what head barman David Burnette will create next, from behind South on Main’s eclectic bar. His Sweet Potato Lemonade, a creative combination of Vodka, Sweet Potato Syrup, Simple Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice and Water stole the show this past year. The seasonal drink tastes like sunshine’s rays without too much sweetness, and if it’s on the menu be sure to order two.-BB
Petit Jean Pear Cider from Stone’s Throw Brewing
Don’t judge me, but I like fruity brews from time to time, but it is hard to get your hands on a good local cider in Little Rock. There is a great cidery in Springdale that I enjoy visiting, but this pear based cider from Stone’s Throw is my go-to and stands up with some of the better ciders I have had. -GH
Frozen Mojito (Spring Fling) at Heights Taco & Tamale Co.
One of Lee Edwards’ final cocktails in Little Rock, it’s a mojito that looks fun and unassuming. But the carefree appearances give way to a bold punch of rum that instantly makes you take things more seriously. Cocktail lovers will find themselves craving this immense, pleasurable creation. – SS
Main St. Sour from 109 & Co.
Sour cocktails are some of my favorite, they add a richness and smooth flavor not found in many other craft cocktails. My spirit of choice in every single occasion is rum which is what makes me love this cocktail. 109’s twist on a sour uses El Dorado 5 Year Rum, Amaro Montenegro, Cherry Heering, fresh lemon juice, a little simple syrup, and fresh egg white. -GH
Cuban Coffee Pull at Damgoode Brews
Yet another Josiah Moody creation makes the list, this one for its remarkable balance of bitter coffee notes and a malty stout profile. Excellent with food or alone, this beer will be getting a second life at Vino’s Brewpub in 2016. Find it. – SS
The Carthusian Reverend from Ciao Baci
This past year we saw the introduction of Plantation Pineapple Rum Stiggins’ Fancy into the local drinking scene. Ciao Baci’s Bar Manger Neil Pedrick created an excellent on the rocks balanced cocktail using it and Chartreuse, as well as a splash of Pineapple. The result is a smooth, subtly spicy and sweet concoction – and even though one might not be enough – enjoy your second one cautiously. -BB
Spa City Triple Crown at Superior Bathhouse
Sometimes, a wonderful creation is a happy accident. That was the case with Superior’s stellar sour beer, which was never supposed to be a sour in the first place. But the beautiful tartness balanced with a pleasant hoppy range made for one of the most enjoyable mistakes of the summer. – SS
Migrate Pale Ale at Flyway Brewing
Migrate is very well balanced and has a nice hint of hops, but great for someone who wants to learn to like Pale Ales. A very approachable beer with a lot of quality for pale ale fans. -BB
Smoked Bandito from Local Lime
Mezcal is quickly experiencing a resurgence in the spirit world, and few better use it locally than Local Lime. This has Ilegal Mezcal, bright pepper-cilantro-agave syrup, lime, sweet corn, and spices finished with a cayenne rim. All together it brings out the smokiness of the mezcal well and provides a nice spicy bite to the cocktail. -GH