There are some cocktails every bartender has to know to be able to stand behind the bar. Vodka tonics and old fashioneds are Bartending 101. It used to be cocktail enthusiasts could only work on new drinks at home or very slow nights at work, but Oklahoma City’s liquor revolution is pushing mixed drinks to the fore. Now bars and restaurants are mixing it up and getting wildly creative, and we are the ones who benefit most.
S&B’s Burger Joint
5929 N. May Ave.
Moscow mules jumped wildly in popularity in recent years as more restaurants began investing in copper mugs and making fresh ginger beer. At S&B’s Burger Joint, bartenders are mixing in America’s favorite spicy cinnamon whiskey to add a zing and sweet counterpart to the lime-heavy concoction. Fireball mule is that most dangerous combination of deliciously tasty and easy to drink that has cocktail lovers stopping by for more than just burgers.
Savings and Loan Co.
423 NW 23rd St.
A cocktail of Savings and Loan Co.’s owner Scott Marsh’s own design, Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Cocktail Names is heavy on lemon flavor and incredibly quaffable. The ingredients include Malfy Gin, fresh lemon juice, English lemon curd, simple syrup and a topping of lemon ash. Why give away the recipe? Because the crafty bar’s staff knows nobody can make a Savings and Loan drink even half as well as they can.
2415 N. Walker Ave.
After more than one Leaning Sour of Pisa at Pizzeria Gusto, you might be leaning, too. The drink is a hard-to-resist mix of red wine, hazelnut liqueur, simple syrup and lemon juice topped with orange peel and egg white froth that’s a perfect complement to Gusto’s spicy hot wings or the rich burrata cheese. The restaurant prides itself on serving Neapolitan-style pizza, but the bar staff is often unjustly overlooked. Find a seat, order a drink and enjoy.
1200 N. Walker Ave.
O Bar might seem too posh a spot to have an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-themed cocktail menu, but leave it up to culinary polymath Andon Whitehorn and his team to create drinks that are perfectly named and exquisitely mixed. Fight Milk! is a heady mix of High West Campfire whiskey, sweet vermouth, sage-sorghum simple syrup and a lactic acid solution (thus the “milk”) that has a spicy front note and a clean finish. For something more tart, order a Green Man.
Rockford Cocktail Den
317 NW 23rd St.
Oklahoma City is still a little bitter (or a lot, judging by the reception he received during his last visit) about Kevin Durant’s departure for California. Likewise, Rockford Cocktail Den’s KD Who? Campari flip holds onto the bitterness of the aperitif while adding the brightness of Aviation gin, the color of blue curaçao, the sweetness of honey, the tang of vanilla coconut milk yogurt and the texture of aquafaba — the cooking liquid of chickpeas, which replaces egg whites.
The Library Bar & Grill
607 W. Boyd St., Norman
The Library Bar & Grill’s entry into the roundup definitely counts as a signature drink thanks to its inventor, long-time bartender Nicole Cherry. Her titular Nicole Cherry Bomb includes a glass of Lindeman’s Framboise, cider and Red Bull with a shot of vodka dropped inside. Fruity and sweet with energy and alcohol to spare, it’s the perfect drink for Norman’s hard-partying student body. Ask your server to bring a plate of pot roast nachos to balance things out.
FlashBack Retro Pub
814 W. Sheridan Ave.
Alcohol should only be consumed by adults, but video games are fun for everybody. If you’re in the mood to mix the two, FlashBack Retro Pub is the ideal destination. And as long as you’re going back in time to enjoy the best video games of yesteryear, you ought to put some plutonium in your tank with a Flux Capacitor — a mix of Prairie Wolf vodka and Loyal gin with Peachtree Schnapps, blue curaçao, sweet and sour mix and some bubbly 7Up.