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Cocktails & Spirits

Skittles Shots? Try Them at Tap 42

Paige Nast is only 21, but she makes a Manhattan cocktail like she's been drinking them for twice as long.

She refuses to make drinks the "cheater" way (she's never touched a bottle of Rose's Lime Juice), and her penchant for using only fresh herbs and local produce in her recipes is more a requirement than a preference.

Maybe that's why this South Florida-born beauty and bartender was recently named Tap 42's very own mixologist and beverage manager. No easy task, she said, Tap 42 is still known as a beer bar first, so getting people to think outside the taps was something "I was a little concerned about," Nast recently told Clean Plate Charlie.

However, since Nast left her bartending gig at Ocean Prime in Aventura to create a custom drink menu at Tap 42, the bar has become as much a craft cocktail bar as craft beer bar -- and there is a list of new hit drinks to prove it.

"When I started [at Tap 42] the cocktail menu was the usual list of stock recipes from the distributor -- one of them was even called 'Swamp Water,'" said Nast. "Who wants to drink something that looks and tastes like swamp water?"

Instead, Nast got to work creating unique and "drinkable" cocktails with ingredients made from scratch and utilizing local ingredients from nearby Marando Farms. Today you'll find Nast behind the bar most days, mixing cocktails and tending to supplies, a regular routine of blending fresh fruit purees and reducing herbs like thyme, clove, anise, lavender and basil into simple syrups. Ask for a whiff of Nast's spiced agave, an aromatic blend of mystery spices she uses in the "42 Kisses" cocktail, a simple but potent blend of Tito's vodka and fresh muddled strawberries.

It's one of seven hand-crafted cocktails you'll find on the new Tap 42 drink menu, which debuted just in May (a finalized version went live a few weeks ago), and new items are already selling faster than Nast can make them. Even her recent addition, a 3-liter, 5-week barrel-aged White Manhattan, has been a fast favorite. An intense drink that combines Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash (a fancy name for corn whiskey), two different French vermouths (Dolin Blanc and Lillet Blanc), and orange bitters for a heady, amber-hued drink that has layers of flavor, an oaky aroma wafting from the glass.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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