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Alia Akkam: The 10 Best Cocktails I Drank This Year

tumblr_md57u5UkkQ1qf6jy9o1_500.jpgBarraged with cocktails all year long, many of the libations I sipped over the past 12 months have faded from memory, completely unremarkable. While a few were downright deplorable, a whole lot were delicious, some of which I've already featured in past Cocktail of the Week write-ups, and some of which I've singled out here as among the best drinks I savored in 2012.

1). It's hard not to swoon when a cocktail is placed before you on the NoMad's sexy mahogany bar. Leo Robitschek's creations are a delicious work of art, but it is the Morning Glory Fizz I revere for its simplicity: the mélange of Scotch, absinthe and lemon juice underneath a crown of frothy egg white (too) easily glides down.

2). Hissing liquid nitrogen is commonplace at Booker & Dax, Dave Arnold's chemistry lab of a bar. In the bright green Bangkok Daiquiri, Thai basil is frozen with it, then muddled into a powder and melded with lime juice and white rum. Like all proper daiquiris, it is tart and refreshing, yet this version is heightened by the basil's herbaceous allure.

3.) Mexico meets Spain in the Palo Negro, an elegant, autumnal tequila aperitif softened by Palo Cortado sherry that bartender Ivy Mix dreamed up for Clover Club. Blackstrap rum and Grand Marnier keep a spectrum of flavors unfolding.

4.) Pouring Ribbons, from the talented men behind Alchemy Consulting, is undoubtedly the most captivating new bar to make its mark on New York this year; I've yet to sample any drink less than thrilling. One favorite that has graced the menu since it opened its doors is Death & Taxes. Dorothy Parker gin is masterfully balanced by a swirl of fruits and florals in the form of Clear Creek Blue Plum brandy, lavender-infused vermouth and grapefruit bitters.

5.) You can't go wrong with a gin quaff at the Shanty; its Dorothy Parker and Perry Tot varieties are made on the same grounds at New York Distilling Company. The cocktail my thoughts return to, however, is the boozy Half-Fool: robust rye whiskey accentuated by aquavit, amaro and bitters.

6.) In September, Franky Marshall, bartender at the Tippler and Monkey Bar, participated in a cocktail competition. Her 53 Souvenirs -- which I fell for that evening -- snagged second place for its heady blend of Louis Royer Force 53 Cognac and Pedro Ximenez sherry, deepened by a daub of walnut oil and Angostura and chocolate chili bitters. While it's not on the menu at the Tippler, Marshall is happy to whip one up for curious imbibers.

7.) The unlikely combination of fresh kale juice and tequila, along with lime juice, agave nectar and smoked sea salt, finds its triumphant groove at the Wayland. Here, Jason Mendenhall's Garden Variety Margarita, with its vibrant green hue and spicy ginger bite, could double as a cold-zapping elixir. 

8.) Murray Hill, a neighborhood I usually flee from, is increasingly becoming more interesting, thanks to the arrival of boîtes like Middle Branch. On a hot summer night I grew besotted with the crisp Star Daisy, which slaked my thirst with applejack, gin, curacao and lemon juice.

9.) At first I was skeptical of Empellón Cocina's Sweep the Leg, thinking its mix of jackfruit, shochu and Xtabentun -- a honey-flavored Mayan liqueur -- would be too sweet for my palate. But the gloriously smoky Ilegal mezcal rescues it with its intriguing depth.

10.) It may not contain any booze, but the effervescent tamarind drinking vinegar at Pok Pok NY, equal parts sweet and sour, is so fitting a companion to Andy Ricker's fiery food, it's a satisfying excuse to detox.

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