Taylor Swift’s taste in fashion, squad members and music is usually on point, but after learning this week in a “73 Questions” video she shot for Vogue that her alcoholic beverage of choice is a vodka and Diet Coke, we can’t help wondering whether Tay-Tay’s in need of a new cocktail with a bit more… “Style.”
Turns out, even Swift knows she needs to up her game, telling the magazine, “I want to be a well-rounded person who can make a good drink.” So The Feast asked several bartenders at some of the world’s best bars to reveal what beverage they’d steer Swift toward if she walked into their bar—a “graduation” cocktail, if you will. Here are the drinks they recommend. Taylor, we hope you never ever get back together with your old mixed-drink standby.
Tom Collins, by Tony Galdes of Le 4e Mur, Montreal
For something as simple as a vodka-Diet but much more delicious, Tony Galdes (pictured above) at Le 4e Mur recommends a classic Tom Collins. “It’s basically a gin and sparkling lemonade—delicious, light and refreshing,” he says. “It relies on absolutely no tools, simple ingredients and simple measuring: It’s two shots of gin, a shot of lemon juice (fresh is best) and two teaspoons of table sugar, topped with club soda.” Galdes adds, “The advantage with such a basic cocktail is, you’ve got unlimited variations just by changing one of the three main ingredients.” His favorite change-ups? Swapping out gin for bourbon (a.k.a. John Collins) or muddling four slices of cucumber at the bottom of the glass for a Cucumber Collins. “And Taylor, if you’re reading this,” says Galdes, “you can have all the ‘Bad Blood’ you want, but please sing it with a good drink in hand.”
Limeade and Tequila by John Brand of The Sternewirth Bar at Hotel Emma, San Antonio
“A good cocktail doesn’t need to be complicated, especially when you're using flavorful and quality ingredients. You can create a killer drink with just a few items,” says John Brand of The Sternewirth (pictured above), who’s as much a fan of unfussy highballs as Swift herself. “Limeade and Tequila with crushed mint from the garden is nice and simple.” His other go-to’s? Gin mixed with Topo Chico sparkling mineral water or Noilly Prat Vermouth with fresh lemon over ice.
Silvio’s Crossing by Jesse Cyr of Rob Roy, Seattle
Rob Roy bartender Jesse Cyr’s own invention “is going to hit a lot of similar flavors you get from Diet Coke,” he says,“ but in a way that’s elevated and very classy.” The four-ingredient cocktail includes a shot of light rum, a half-shot of Meletti amaro (a type of Italian liqueur), a tablespoon of dry vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir it all together with ice and strain. “Amaro and bitters mimic that cola taste, while the rum and vermouth give it a light, well-rounded body,” Cyr explains. “It’s something you’ll look very sophisticated sipping on with your friends.”
Moscow Mule by Greg Almeida of Pollen Street Social, London
A Moscow Mule is “the long, refreshing and spicy cooler to go for!” says Pollen Street Social's Greg Almeida. “Vodka, fresh lime and ginger beer—what’s not to like? It’s easy to make and easy to replicate, and definitely an improvement on vodka-Diet Coke. I could drink those all day and all night, too.” Mix a shot of vodka and the juice from half a lime, then top with ginger beer in an ice-filled glass. Pollen Street Social tops off the classic tipple with a shot of Angostura bitters.
Pisco Sour by Gabrielle Panaccio of LAB, Montreal
“If a girl tells me she enjoys Diet Coke and vodka,” says LAB's Gabrielle Panaccio, “I would think she likes vodka because she doesn’t like the taste of alcohol. And if she likes the taste of cola, she’s going to like flavors like cinnamon, citrus and lavender.” Armed with that knowledge, she recommends heading south of the border (figuratively speaking) and mixing up Peru’s national drink, a Pisco sour. “It’s not a hard-alcohol taste, and it’s got a hint of spices,” Panaccio explains. A traditional one is shaken with Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), citrus, raw egg white, simple syrup and bitters—but for something a little more complex, add a teaspoon of orange juice and a pinch of five-spice powder, then garnish with grated cinnamon. “Seriously,” Panaccio says, “she can’t not like it!”
Palm Springs Forever by Megan Rainwater at Blind Tiger Cocktail Co., Seattle
“To make something easy from home but still have your drink serve as a low-calorie drink, use a syrup that doesn’t come from a soda gun or plastic bag,” says Blind Tiger Cocktail Co.'s Megan Rainwater. Her high-end pick is Raft’s Hibiscus Syrup, handcrafted in small batches. Mix two teaspoons of it with a shot of Hendrick’s Gin, the juice from a small lime and a teaspoon of Thai basil vinegar; top with club soda and serve over ice. Rainwater notes that the vinegar is also beneficial, as it’s been found to “curb appetite and help with digestion.”
1989 by Will Thompson at Yvonne’s, Boston
Believe it or not, Yvonne's proffers a signature cocktail called 1989 (same name as Tay’s album!) that’s perfectly suited to her tastes. “It’s designed to be pretty appealing to someone who likes vodka highballs. We’re using bright, friendly flavors, but in a way that’s a little bit more celebratory and interesting,” says Will Thompson, who describes the tipple as “basically a lavender vodka with Champagne and a touch of elderflower.” Start by infusing fresh or dried lavender in vodka for up to 12 hours (check on it until it’s the right strength for you). Strain, mix with an equal amount of St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur) and chill. When you’re ready to serve, pour an ounce or two into a Champagne flute and top with dry sparkling wine. Thompson adds that a drop or two of celery bitters and a lemon twist garnish are nice if you have them, but otherwise, “just drink it as is.”
Diablo by Todd Maul of Cafe ArtScience, Cambridge
Maul’s take on the iconic El Diablo cocktail—a shot of tequila with half-shots of lime juice and creme de cassis, topped with ginger beer—swaps out the tequila for its smokier cousin, mezcal, and replaces ginger ale with spicier ginger beer. “It would still be a clear liquor like vodka, but mezcal is far more interesting,” Maul says. “And ginger beer will be more interesting than Diet Coke.”
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