When it comes to cocktails, some unsophisticated drinkers believe that the boozier the beverage, the better. But while there’s nothing wrong with a stiff drink, more and more mixologists are opting to go the low-proof route.
That doesn’t mean watered-down drinks or cocktails with more juice than gin. Rather, cocktails that use lower-proof alcohols — whether vermouth, sherry, Amari such as Aperol or Campari, or any other fortified wines and liqueurs on the market.
What’s the rationale? There’s the matter of health, of course; we can debate the merits of moderate drinking, but no one in their right mind will argue that drinking whiskey all night is good for you. Drinking less is an admirable goal. From a bartender’s perspective, lighter cocktails are more “sessionable”- a beer term that you can drink for longer since they’re less boozy. Three Sazeracs at a cocktail bar would have just about anyone calling it a night. Three low-proof sherry-based aperitifs, though? There’s plenty more fun to be had.
From a management perspective, it makes great financial sense; even if a vermouth – or amaro-based drink is priced a bit lower on the cocktail list, it’s more than made up when a patron orders a second or a third.
And mixologists don’t necessarily have the most fun with stronger spirits. Sherry, in particular, is one of the most complex cocktail ingredients out there. There are more vermouths on the market than ever — plenty now are American-made, as well as ever-more imports from France, Italy, and Spain, and no two vermouths are exactly alike. Other lower-proof bottles — from rich, wine-like Byrhh to mellow, friendly Cappelletti — contribute layered, fascinating flavors of their own. Low-proof doesn’t mean low-flavor.
Some bars are now dedicating portions of their menu to lower-proof drinks — or serving low-proof drinks entirely.
Lamia’s Fish Market is a fresh new 200-seat seafood restaurant located in the heart of the lower east side at 47 Avenue B. Lamia’s takes the sexiness and femininity of seafood and gives it that Lower east side edge. Serving up several craft cocktails using sake which is naturally low-proof, over higher-proof liqueurs drink names like; Beachfront Views, Basic AF, and One Too Many margaritas.
Especially with the summer upon us, low-proof is the way to go.