Welcome to the How To series, a periodic segment of photo essays that highlight the dishes and drinks area restaurants do well, who makes them, and how they do it. This week, we're focusing on Sweetwater's Sean Iglehart, who will be getting us drunk on a selection of craft cocktails.
"Craft cocktails are for places that have stretches of lousy weather," said Chris, my friend visiting from up north. "Brown liquor is for cold and rainy nights." His is one theory why craft cocktails are slower to arrive in sunny South Florida.
While tiki rum drinks are an area mainstay, cocktails with artisan booze aren't an easy find. Those craving an Aviation or an amaro-based cocktail might find themselves making the trip to the mecca outside of Miami: Sweetwater Bar and Grill.
Inside, the bar is brooding, framed by exposed brick, hardwood floors, and low light. Behind the bar, you're likely find bar man Sean Iglehart.
"I look to Florida as the sixth borough of New York," he said. "People come here from places that have well-established cocktail programs. Why don't they demand a better cocktail?"
Of all the spirits at his bar, he talks up gin. "There's so much more on the palate than vodka," he says. "I like a lighter spirit with botanicals." He cites the range of gin, from Hendrick's cucumber and lemon and Bols Genever for smoke and peat. "It's a fun spirit to work with."
Below, Iglehart makes us our first cocktail of the week.
Sloe gin -- made from blackthorn berries -- has become a darling of the craft cocktail movement. Prior to 2008, the real stuff wasn't readily available outside of the U.K. "Sloe gin, to the English, is a little bit like limoncello is to the Italians. In the countryside, everyone makes their own," wrote Jason Wilson, author of Boozehound.
A Sloe Gin Fizz is relatively simple: Plymouth sloe gin, lemon, simple syrup, club soda, and garnish served in a highball glass with ice. Iglehart adds Plymouth gin, heavy cream, and egg whites, transforming the basics to a double-gin Ramos Fizz.