Our Favorite Drinks of 2015

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What was the best thing you drank in 2015? Throughout the year, the Imbibe staff does a lot of recipe testing, sample tasting and barhopping, and certain drinks leave especially memorable impressions. Here are some of our editorial team’s favorite sips from the past year.

Paul Clarke, Executive Editor
“2015 was full of drinks that fall on my ‘favorites’ list. The Improved Shochu Cocktail at Bar Goto in New York, the Riesling and mezcal-laced Outlier at Single Shot in Seattle, and the Outcast of the Islands at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 in New Orleans all came out swinging on the cocktail front, and the hoppy, herbaceous Lone Pint IPA that had been rested in a green Chartreuse barrel made the cab ride to Houston’s Hay Merchant more than worthwhile. Sipping glasses of Spanish vermouth at bars in Barcelona renewed my excitement for the aromatized wine, and the bottle of Julien Labet’s Cotes du Jura Fleur de Savagnin en Chalasse that I poured for a special dinner gave me fresh enthusiasm for cooking at home. Mornings were made easier with beans I brought back from my travels—Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters and San Francisco’s Sightglass Coffee are welcome in my cup anytime—and while my evening whisk(e)y usually hails from Kentucky or Scotland, this year saw me reaching across the Pacific for Hibiki’s Japanese Harmony blend, as well as drinking local with Westland Distillery’s sherry cask-finished single malt.”

Tracy Howard, Senior Editor
“The best thing I drank in 2015? Easily
Bailly Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne brut rosé. And it was by sheer chance that I even discovered it. While perusing the “fancy” bottles of vino kept under lock and key at my neighborhood shop (seriously—if you ever lose me grocery shopping I’ll be in the wine aisle lusting after all the bottles on lockdown), I spied two bottles of this sparkling rosé priced under $20. Did they somehow forget a “0” on the end of the price tag? Turns out, it was special-order bubbly that had gone unclaimed—score for me! I scooped one up and popped the cork that night. Zippy and bright, it ping-ponged between notes of lemon zest, brioche and fresh pear, with a string of effervescence that led right to the bottom of the bottle. Best believe I returned the following day for more.”

Joshua Bernstein, Contributing Editor
“This year, I found myself digging on fragrant dry-hopped sours such as Grimm Artisanal Ales’ Psychokinesis and Telekinesis, plus New Belgium’s Le Terroir. (Keep an eye on the style for next year.) I’ve also been pounding pilsners aplenty, including Banded Horn’s Pepperell Pilsner and Bunker’s Machine Czech Pilz—go-tos whenever we visit Maine. And I think the gose is poised to seriously go mainstream next year, thanks to Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez, a gose-style refresher seasoned with prickly pear cactus and a touch of grapefruit. And Brooklyn Brewery’s low-alcohol saison, ½ Ale, has stayed in my heavy rotation. Perhaps I’m getting older (quick check: I am), but I’m craving flavorful beers that keep the good times going, not smacking me to dreamland with a boozy sledgehammer.”

Emma Janzen, Digital Content Editor
“As per usual, this year was largely marked by dark beers, cold brews and creative cocktails. My most memorable highlights? The 1930s-era amari at Billy Sunday’s monthly Amaro 101 class opened my eyes to decades of bitters history; the savory mezcal and carrot juice-based Orange Maria from Nido in Oakland changed the way I brunch; Pub Royale’s Royale #4 Cup inspired me to riff on Jungle Birds all summer; the rum- and sherry-fueled Cobbler at the Broken Shaker’s new outpost in Chicago became a monthly craving; and finally, I’m always looking for the next best funky flavor, so Julia Momose’s Peace Frog at Green River made my heart skip a beat with its earthy mix of agricole, Cynar, amontillado, Batavia Arrack, black trumpet mushroom and mirin cordial. Easily one of the best cocktails I’ve ever tasted.”

Penelope Bass, Editorial Assistant
“Narrowing down the best thing I drank this year is difficult, particularly since joining the Imbibe team has introduced so many new flavors to my glass. The Fireside Chat winter-spiced ale from 21st Amendment, the 2015 Nouveau Pinot Noir from Scribe Winery, and the fruity, spicy, savory Phuket Fire from Smith Teamaker all stand out. But honestly, the best thing I drank was just a few weeks ago from barman Jeffrey Morgenthaler (whose Dark and Stormy also happens to be my go-to summer cocktail). Morgenthaler’s tequila-sherry egg nog is sweet but not cloying, rich but not too heavy, and tastes like pure holiday joy. I’ll certainly be raising another glass to 2016.”