This is it, the 10 Best Cocktails in OTR. We figured it was appropriate to go all out and tackle something as tough as consuming nearly every ounce of alcohol on a bars menu, trust us it was hard work. Now, let’s get something straight, the term “best” is entirely relative. The following 10 cocktails are all excellent in their own right, but they might not be the “best” in your opinion.
Personally, I prefer bourbon over pretty much anything, so this list is full of bourbon-influenced cocktails. Get over it.
1. Golden Holz – Salazar Restaurant & Bar
Simply put, the Golden Holz is my favorite drink on this list. It’s a sweeter cocktail, which I tend to enjoy before a meal. Made with Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Mescal, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine and Xochitl mole bitters, it’s strong enough to give you a buzz, but doesn’t make you feel that you’re overdoing it.
Another bonus for this drink is that Salazar serves cocktails with a single ice block, something I really appreciate as it melts slower and preserves the full flavor & strength of your drink longer than regular cubes.
2. Barrel Aged Pimms Cup – Neon’s Unplugged
Neon’s has been cranking out some of the best cocktails in the city for a while now and it’s pretty easy to see why after a few conversations with their bartenders. These alcohol aficionados know their shit. The latest piece of perfection they’ve been serving is the Barrel Aged Pimm’s Cup and it’s ridiculous.
Aged in that little barrel is a ton of Pimm’s with some mint, strawberries and orange. Add in some Ginger Ale, a Cucumber wedge and you’ve got yourself the perfect drink for warm weather. Be sure to thank Sara Cox for your buzz and for her brainchild cocktail.
3. Marlboro Man – Japp’s Since 1879
Suggested by Cincinnati’s own Queen of Cocktails, Molly Wellman, is the Marlboro Man. Aptly described as “A taste of the Wild West”, this drink makes you feel like John Wayne in the midst of a gunfight with the green fairy.
Japp’s puts this together with Bulleit Bourbon, Tobacco Bitters, Lucid Absinthe and a little vanilla. It’s a crazy drink that gives you strong notes of gun smoke and rolling tumbleweeds.
4. Old Fashioned – A Tavola
I was hard pressed to put this one on the list as it didn’t really fit with the uniqueness of each cocktail to it’s respective establishment. You can order an Old Fashioned damn near anywhere and in most cases, they won’t differ too much. However, this is one really great Old Fashioned.
Prepared for me by A Tavola’s well known cocktail craftsman, Aaron Strasser, I didn’t dare ask what dark magic he used to make this drink so special. Other than the basics of an Old Fashioned, Bourbon, Sugar cube & Bitters, it had something extremely special going for it. Give this a try with some Wagyu Meatballs.
5. Fidel Castro – Senate
Over-the-Rhine’s favorite gourmet hot dog spot happens to know how to make a kickass cocktail. I don’t know about you but there’s something amazing about chowing down on Bacon Fat Fries while sipping on a Fidel Castro.
Senate’s claim to cocktail fame is made with Bourbon Barrel Aged Spiced Rum, Maple Syrup, Angostura & Orange bitters, their own crazy infusion and a burnt orange. I highly recommend using this to wash down a Trailer Park.
6. Fair Harbor – Anchor-otr
I’ve had a few people tell me that The Anchor Old Fashioned is a drink that should make this list, but I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great old fashioned, but it didn’t stand out as something exceptionally unique, granted Anchor-otr makes their’s with excellent house made pear bitters.
I instead opted for the Fair Harbor which I think is just downright awesome. Made with Kraken Rum, Ginger Beer, Fresh Lime & Pomegranate Juice, this bad boy is a little fruity, but you won’t feel like a little girl drinking it. Recommend ditching the straw to preserve that tough-guy image.
7. Fade to Black – The Eagle
Dark and ominous, just like the kickass Metallica song it takes it’s namesake from, Fade to Black is another cocktail on this list that stands out for it’s uniqueness. Heavy and sweet, the Fade to Black is made with a New Holland Beer Barrel aged Bourbon, Oatmeal Stout, a bit of vanilla and St. Germaine.
Pro-tip: Try this one after your meal, it’s perfect for a dessert, just make sure to save room for it.
8. Premium Margarita – Bakersfield OTR
Possibly one of the most well known drinks on this list, the Premium Margarita has been a staple at Bakersfield since inception. It’s nearly impossible to grab a seat at Bakersfield’s bar without seeing another patron sucking one of these down.
Made with El Arco Blanco Tequila, Cointreau, Agave Nectar, Fresh Lime and a Grand Marnier float. Try this with the Short Rib tacos.
9. The Araki 2.0 – Kaze
Over-the-Rhine’s favorite sushi spot, Kaze, features an excellent patio bar to enjoy during the summer and a large back bar, open year round. Stumble into Kaze on a Wednesday night during karaoke and a little liquid courage will go a long way. Enter the Araki 2.0.
Kaze’s featured bourbon cocktail is a blend of Bulleit Rye, Cardamaro, Cocchi vermouth, with House made bitters and a citrus peel. This is a strong bourbon drink that will have you on stage belting out Rocket Man in no time. Remember to bring the star sunglasses and white boots!
10. The Bourbon Trail – ZULA
Named after the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, this cocktail carries a bit of the Bluegrass State’s spirit into Cincinnati. This drink is truly unique. You won’t often see a bourbon/grapefruit mash up, but ZULA really pulls this off.
Served up with Woodford Reserve, Mandarin Infused Bergamont Tea, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Simple Syrup and a Grapefruit Twist. Make sure you ask the bartender to give this drink a toss, if not, the heart of the flavor will tend to hide at the bottom of the cup.
Don’t agree? Have suggestions? Let us know!