The new year means new drinks. Six of Dallas' top bartenders are infused with enthusiasm for what they'd like their customers to try on New Year's Eve and into 2016.
Michael Martensen, Madrina
This mix master is jazzed about drinking and making other-fruit brandy sours, using pear, apple or raspberry brandies. He suggests substituting a fruit brandy, rather than a grape-distilled spirit, for gin in the traditional French 75 or Tom Collins.
Night Changes ($14) is such a choice at Madrina. It's Clear Creek Pear Brandy, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, garnished with lemon peel and topped off with dry sparkling wine. Top with club soda instead for the Collins effect.
New Year's Eve: Madrina is doing a multicourse dinner for $105.
Gina Gottlich, the Second Floor
The beverage director at the Westin Galleria restaurant rhapsodizes about the $12 Muzzle of Bees (rye, lemon-infused honey and lemon bitters, finished with cracked black pepper).
"This is one of my favorites because I am a huge whiskey fan and particularly like the Rittenhouse Rye, which adds some spice to the cocktail," Gottlich says.
NYE: The Second Floor presents a five-course dinner for $75.
Matt Ragan, Victor Tangos
The manager there has embraced the distinctive Hamilton St. Lucian Pot Still Aged Rum, aged 7 years, and fashioned a classic daiquiri, for $11, with it.
"The complexity and depth of the rum shines through the balance of citrus and sugar," Ragan says, noting that the sturdy liquor (59 percent alcohol by volume) gets diluted just enough to balance with the other components -- lime juice and simple syrup.
Kyle Hilla, the Theodore
The bar manager at the quirky NorthPark newcomer says: Don't be afraid to freeze. He's touting the Everglades (Caña Brava rum, green chartreuse, cucumber and ginger pop rocks) for $10.
"I think people need to change the way they think of frozen drinks and realize how fun and tasty they can be," he says.
Chad Solomon, Midnight Rambler
The Joule lounge sorcerer also works magic with sours. His Pinetop Perker ($12) combines genever, malted Swedish aquavit and Austrian pine liqueur for a savory seasonal concoction that he describes as "distinctly northern European."
Solomon, a musical archivist, named it after a Mississippi Delta blues pianist, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins.
NYE: Midnight Rambler hosts a Boho-A-Go-Go dance party. $25 cover after 8:30 p.m.
Josh McEachern, Proof + Pantry
Martensen's stablemate wants to reclaim the classic dry martini like this: gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, stirred and garnished with a lemon peel.
"Stirring gets drinks just as cold as shaking and creates a velvety texture rather than air bubbles and ice shards," McEachern says. But going against conventions, he likes equal parts gin and vermouth, a "balance of strength and dryness."
It's $12 with a premium gin.
NYE: The bar offers an a la carte version of the pre-set dining room menu. $30.