Cocktails on tap? Yes, it's here South Florida. And while it may be a quietly whispered trend that started sometime last year, the kegged cocktail has finally made its way to Palm Beach County compliments of Sweetwater Bar & Grill owners Clint Reed and Sean Iglehart who have been offering aged concoctions via tap for close to a year, making them the first in the area -- if not the first in the state alongside places like Batch Miami.
It should come as no surprise the option to grab your drink on draft is now a highlight at the trendsetting Boynton Beach imbibing destination, which set the tone for the county-wide craft cocktail revival we now know at nearly every upscale and in-the-know watering hole around. The new specialty-made, nitrogen-fueled keg system allows bartenders to pour up to five gallons of Iglehart's unique recipes from two taps behind the bar.
Worried draft cocktails will kill off the art of bartending and anything freshly smoked, muddled or mixed? It won't. But will it usher in a new era of bartending and drink selections? Most definitely.
Some say the love of a good cocktail is all about the bartender experience -- the bartender actually making your drink, from scratch, right there in front of you. But at Sweetwater, the art of kegging and pouring a pre-made concoction is a great solution for some drinks according to Iglehart.
Indeed, he doesn't disappoint with his selection, currently offering two stellar examples of a smart kegged cocktail done well. The cocktail on tap works best with certain liquors, specifically gin, whiskey, liqueurs, vermouths and bitters. Choose the Amor y Amargo, a combination of equal parts gin, Galliano (a sweet vanilla-anise flavored liqueur with subtle citrus and woodsy herbal notes), Fernet Branca (a bitter Italian liqueur laced with pungent botanicals) and orange bitters. Or go for the Wolfbangs, a heady cocktail of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Aperol (an Italian aperitif) and orange bitters.
"Not many people realize we've been doing this for over a year. We were the first in Palm Beach County, if not the entire state," Iglehart told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. "We started [batching] drinks to deal with the expected crowd, so we were able to serve literally hundreds of drinks a night using that technique. When we're busy, it saves time for certain drinks [that do well kegged]."
Want one of the bar's ever-rotation seasonal specialty cocktails? No problem. Those are still whipped up a la minute behind the bar. In addition, stop by and enjoy the Sweetwater happy hour. It's on seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and offers $5 house cocktails on tap, drink menu favorites (including Ward 8, French 75, Berry Bramble, Dark & Stormy and a chipotle margarita), as well as select $3 craft beer.
Aside from all that's going on behind the bar, Sweetwater has also started an amazing array of monthly and weekly events, including jam sessions with local acts starting at 10 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month; a tasteful yet racy burlesque show the third Thursday of each month starting at 10 p.m.; and creative painting on Monday nights where you can also sample $5 house wines and absinthe all evening.
Stop by Sweetwater on Monday, May 19th at 6 p.m. when the bar will be hosting a Fernet cocktail competition. During the competition patrons can sample Fernet Branca -- on tap, of course.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.