In the past year or so, the craft cocktail has been on everyone's menu -- but not every menu is truly craft.
Not so at Kapow! Noodle Bar in Boca Raton, where cocktail menu creator Angela Dugan -- wife to Kapow! co-owner and Pizza Fusion CEO Vaughan Lazar -- recently stepped-in to revamp the establishment's cocktail selections. While there are plenty of South Florida bars doing an excellent job of fostering a resurgence of true craft cocktails, Dugan's special touches are amping it up a notch.
Today, the bar released its new cocktail menu -- over 20 drinks that highlight all the flavors of the season in a few dozen glasses. We asked Dugan what makes each of Kapow's new craft cocktails special. Here's what she had to say:
"A cocktail that is truly unique and cannot be easily recreated," Dugan told Clean Plate Charlie during a recent interview. "I don't believe you have to recreate the wheel, but the flavors have to balance, and there almost has to be a sense of intrigue. Craft means unique, customized drinks with a homemade touch. Adding a bunch of ingredients together with a sweetener or two does not make a craft cocktail."
Likewise, a true craft cocktail menu should also be tailored to its audience, said Dugan. Each cocktail has to tell a story, and the menu as a whole has to create a well versed picture of whatever it is the bar is trying to portray, whether it's the flavors of the season, or the personalities of the bartenders and the establishment.
To get that, Dugan asks staff members to submit their best recipes each season. It's a way to keep drinks daring, and the staff dedicated to what they do best. This season, Dugan is most excited about Kapow's newest line of low-impact cocktails, drinks made with just one ounce of alcohol or less for all the flavor and character, without a ton of booze.
How did she come up with the idea? Dugan did her homework. While reading The Cocktails Of The Ritz Paris she came across a section that addressed the importance of understanding your audience, and the idea was born.
And it doesn't have to be tailored to women only. Dugan said she's seen plenty of men ordering low-impact thanks to a menu that offers it without screaming low-calorie -- and no flavor.
"These aren't diet drinks. I'm not worried about the calorie content, just the amount of liquor," said Dugan. "It's important to realize that not everyone drinks to get drunk. Not everyone is a frat boy that likes to get wasted two drinks in."
Keep reading for a look at some of Kapow!'s spring-summer cocktails, a new line of more than 20 specialty seasonal cocktails released this week.
"When creating a menu I never think of the number of cocktails. I think about if all the flavors of the season are represented, and if every type of palate is accounted for," said Dugan.
This season, signature ingredients like housemade shrubs, jams and smoked juices are making another kind of impact -- and a good one, at that. While last fall highlighted seasonal flavors like chai, pumpkin and fresh ginger, this season it's all about fresh, fun flavors.
Expect to see drinks with more herbs, floral notes, and fragrant flavors such as lavender, violet, watermelon and basil. We especially like the smoked berry-infused lemonade with the bacon salt rim.
Dugan also went for earthy flavors, a daring -- but unique -- move on her part. A good example: a cocktail made with beet-infused Tito's vodka, rosemary simple syrup and smoked black pepper known as the Earth, Wind, & Fire. We like the What's Up Doc which is made with Bacardi and Malibu rums, coconut water and fresh carrot and orange juices.
Some of the bartenders' favorite drinks: barrel-aged and house-infused liquors, including the fall special that has been so popular it won't be taken off the menu anytime soon. A special house blend of bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and apple, it can be taken straight up, or used to make the popular Fall Harvest cocktail.
And the shot everyone's talking about behind the bar is the Chicken Cock fireball, made using the legendary American whiskey with roots dating back to Prohibition as the preferred brand at many of the most famous speakeasies. At Kapow! it's bottled and infused with fresh cinnamon sticks for one of the smoothest shots you'll ever take.
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