When it comes to creativity, Sacramento has a lot to offer. However, the only way to experience a truly creative cocktail is to turn to talented Sacramento mixologists. These experts delved into what they believe creativity is. For them, creativity is not lighting a drink on fire or adding a dash of Tabasco, but finding innovative ways to present classics.
Centro Cocina Mexicana
2730 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
Many Sacramento restaurants and bars are getting into the process of infusing drinks. The process of combining alcohol and fruit adds an element of surprise, cuts down on the need for juices and syrups and is a great way to dress up a disappointing bottle of alcohol. While this may be a popular technique, Centro Cocina Mexicana has the most innovative and creative infusions available. Bar Manager, Joel York, is the brains and pallet behind the tequila infusions offered at Centro. The process can take up to two weeks, and with creations like spiced apple and key lime pie, it is well worth the wait. All infusions are seasonal and patrons can order Centro’s creations as a shot or in a mixed drink. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, order the pineapple and habanero, which is bound to clear your sinuses and put a little hair on your chest.
1815 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
If you are looking for a twist on a classic, The Porch is the place to go. Each drink on the menu is created by the bartenders, so every drink is guaranteed to be something they find worthy of mixing. The Porch’s most popular drink is its Cosmic Cloud, a play on a traditional Cosmopolitan. The combination of cranberry-infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and limoncello foam makes this drink anything but traditional. You can enjoy the fresh cranberry flavor without the added sugar, as the infused vodka packs enough flavor to make juice unnecessary. Additionally, the limoncello foam cuts the sweetness of the drink, so every sip is well balanced and full of flavor.
1016 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Between the live mermaids and themed nights, there are many creative things about Dive Bar. However, the Basil Cucumber Martini is by far the greatest thing this place has to offer. Made out of cucumber vodka, muddled basil, St. Germain and simple syrup, this drink is surprisingly refreshing and not nearly as overpowering as the name suggests. This may not be a cocktail you order back to back, but it is definitely one worth making a trip for. If cucumber isn’t your thing, try Dive Bar’s award-winning Spring Mule, made with vanilla vodka, peach bitters, basil, ginger beer and St. Germain. While it may share a couple of ingredients (and color) with the Cucumber Basil Martini, it is much sweeter and has more of a kick.
Related: Best Piano Bars in Sacramento
The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar
2718 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar is known for its drink menu filled with crafted cocktails. However, the Krakow Salt Mine is its signature cocktail, and for good reason. Made with Zubrowka, lemon, ginger beer, salt and apple cider, the flavor is not nearly as intimidating as the ingredients, but actually a well balanced throwback to childhood apple cider.
Shady Lady Saloon
1409 R St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
Anytime you mention creative cocktails to a Sacramento drinker, they will point you to Shady Lady Saloon. Like The Red Rabbit, all cocktails are handcrafted. However, what pushes Shady Lady above all other artisan bars is that it makes its own ginger ale, tonic and soda, ensuring that every sip tastes exactly as intended. While you are enjoying the atmosphere, order its White Linen, which is comprised of gin, St. Germain, cucumber, simple syrup and lemon. It is not only refreshing, but one of the best gin drinks that Sacramento has to offer.
Megan Bowyer is a freelance writer in search of the best food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer. You can find her at any number of dive bars or trendy restaurants; just look for the short blonde feeding the jukebox. Her work can be found at “Examiner.com“