Lawrence is a cocktail kind of town. In bars and lounges across the city, people are ordering up a staggering variety of libations, everything from the tried-and-true Cosmopolitan, gimlet and Grasshopper to new-fangled creations like the chocolate-banana martini and the Raspberry Kiss.
Others are sticking to the basics -- whiskey, Scotch, bourbon and vodka -- but are tending to choose from among an increasing number of top-shelf, premium brands, some of which weren't even on the market until recent years.
As the holidays approach, Lawrence residents -- like people everywhere -- are likely to find themselves grazing from an ever-present banquet of holiday treats. Along with that typically goes increased alcohol consumption at endless rounds of family get-togethers and parties.
A lot of that intake will be in the form of cocktails, traditionally defined as alcoholic drinks -- mixed or straight up -- other than beer and wine.
Heading the list of popular cocktails, judging from the kind of drinks ordered in a number of Lawrence bars, are Cosmopolitans and fun, flavorful variations on the classic, vodka martini, as well as high-quality brands of hard liquor, such as Ketel One Vodka or Bombay Sapphire Gin.
"Everybody drinks during the holidays -- 'tis the season," said Julia Peterson, a bartender at Teller's, 746 Mass., a Lawrence watering hole.
"You name it, and I've made it. Classic things are popular right now -- a martini, bourbon or Scotch on the rocks, a rum and coke, gin and tonic -- standard, staple cocktails. But we have the capability here to make anything you'd like."
Chocolate, raspberry martinis
Cosmopolitans -- a cocktail made of vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and a dash of lime juice -- and martinis are the favorite drinks at Marisco's Grill & Bar, 4821 W. Sixth St.
"On Thursday nights, we do Cosmopolitans and regular martinis for $2.50. It's ridiculous -- my bartender basically sits back here and makes Cosmopolitans and martinis all night. We usually run out of martini glasses," said Chris Patton, a Marisco's bartender.
Another big hit is the chocolate martini.
"They come in a chilled glass lined with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. It's a normal martini with a little chocolate liqueur mixed in. It tastes like you're drinking a chocolate milkshake, minus the ice cream," Patton said.
If the idea of a chocolate martini doesn't thrill you, how about one that's raspberry flavored? Those are popular at Marisco's, too. They're made of Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodka, Chambord Liqueur and a dash of lime juice.
|Cosmopolitan----2 shots vodka1/4 to 1/2 shot Triple Sec Liqueursplash of cranberry juicedash of lime juiceShake vodka, liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon twist.Submitted by Chris Patton, Marisco's.Raspberry Kiss----1 1/2 shots Stoli Razberi Vodka1/4 shot Chambord Liqueursplash of sour mixShake Stoli Razberi Vodka, Chambord Liqueur and sour mix over ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon or lime twist.Submitted by Justin Baxter, Marisco's.Apple Tini----1 3/4 shots vodka1/2 shot Apple Pucker liqueurdash of lime juiceShake vodka, liqueur and lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.Submitted by Chris Patton, Marisco's Grill & Bar.Tropical Martini----2 shots vodka1/2 shot Blue Curacaodash of lime juiceShake vodka, Blue Curacao and lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lime twist.Submitted by Chris Patton, Marisco's.Raspberry Martini----2 shots Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodka (Stoli Razberi)1/2 shot Chambord Liqueurdash of lime juiceShake Stoli Razberi, Chambord Liqueur and lime juice over ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.Submitted by Chris Patton, Marisco's.Chocolate Martini----1 1/2 shots vodka1 shot Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur1 to 2 shots chocolate milkHershey's Chocolate SyrupPre-garnish a martini glass with thin swirls of chocolate syrup on the inside of the glass, or along the rim.Shake vodka, Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur and milk over ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings or cinnamon.Submitted by Justin Baxter, Marisco's.|
"A real sweet martini, I guess I would call it. A lot of places have some type of fruit martini, and that's one of the ones we carry," Patton said.
A variation on this at Marisco's is the Raspberry Kiss, featuring Stoli Raspberry, Chambord and a splash of sour mix.
Kinds of cocktails that have been around for ages are ordered frequently, as well.
"A lot of times the Manhattan is a really popular drink. It's got Jim Beam (Bourbon Whiskey), bitters and sweet vermouth. Some people call it an Old Fashioned. A lot of older people like it," Patton said.
Bartenders at Teller's, meanwhile, are busy making Cosmopolitans.
"It's pretty classic, everybody drinks that. It's light and it's fruity, but it's all booze. They're strong, and people order them all the time," Peterson said.
She also has noticed something else.
"People are getting very trendy about their vodka and their gin these days. They'll drink the Grey Goose or the Belvedere (vodkas). People essentially know what they want to drink, so they're pretty specific about it," Peterson said.
"If they order a Bombay Sapphire (Gin) Martini, up, with two olives, they know what's going on. People who don't know what they're doing come in and say, 'Could you do something with vodka?'"
Cool, liquid banana
Cosmopolitans are popular at the Bella Lounge, 925 Iowa, but so is the bar's own variation on the Cosmo -- called the Bella.
It's a combination of rum, vodka, gin, Triple Sec, Cointreau, pineapple juice, cranberry juice and a splash of sour mix.
"It kind of tastes like that fizzy punch they serve at weddings. College girls really like that one," said manager Jessica Wachter.
Other drinks that people like to order at the Bella Lounge in winter are: Licor 43 Liqueur, a vanilla-flavored cordial, poured into a brandy snifter and heated over a flame; Tuaca (a sweet liqueur) and apple cider; White Russians; and Peppermint Schnapps in hot cocoa.
The lounge has a list of 20 different martinis, with names like the Dream sickle (Stoli Orange, Licor 43 and Godiva White Liqueur), the Lemon Drop (Citron Vodka and sour mix with a sugar rim) and the Wedding Cake (Frangelico, Amaretto and Godiva White liqueurs plus cream).
"When you're dealing with college students, gender doesn't matter that much (when ordering types of drinks). Guys drink chocolate martinis. College students are willing to try the different flavors," Wachter said.
Classic martinis made with Grey Goose or Belvedere premium vodkas also are ordered frequently at the lounge.
In the bar upstairs at Henry's, 11 E. Eighth St., Cosmos and specialty martinis rule, while old-fashioned drinks such as classic martinis, Manhattans, gimlets and Grasshoppers are increasingly ordered.
There is a listing of 23 kinds of martinis you can order at Henry's. The most popular ones are the chocolate-banana and chocolate-mint varieties, according to bartender Kelly Barnum.
A chocolate-banana martini is made of vodka, Godiva liqueur, Creme de Banana and laced or topped with a swirl of chocolate syrup. The $6 drink tastes like a cool, liquid banana.
But Henry's patron Brian Runk of Lawrence doesn't go for such fruity fare.
"I like Ketel One Vodka on the rocks with olives. It's almost a martini, and why bother with the vermouth. Occasionally, in the winter, I like bourbon and cider. It warms you up and it tastes good," he said.
"Or I would probably get a straight-up martini, not a frou-frou martini. The sweet drinks just give me a headache."