Many of today's top cocktail bars don't just impress you with what's in the glass, they also aim to wow you with the sheer creativity of their menus and the way their drinks are presented and conceptualized. These are eight of the most inventive cocktail menus from across the country, from graphic novel thrillers to coloring books and art murals.
Adam Bernbach has drawn a new menu for his D.C. basement bar each week since it has been open. Each one is brightly colored and uniquely styled, showcasing seven weekly specials, and while many favorites make repeat appearances, he has churned through hundreds of different drinks over the past three-and-a-half years, leaving in his wake a stunning menu archive, found here for your browsing pleasure.
Named Best Bar in the World by The World's 50 Best Bars in 2016, The Dead Rabbit needs no introduction. While you ponder which delicious drink to order, you can also enjoy the thrilling graphic novel menus. The latest edition, dubbed Incarceration, is full of twists and turns and is more fun to read than the Snaps flooding your iPhone.
Phoenix's Bitter & Twisted unveils a new over-the-top menu each year, with the fairy-tale-inspired Book o' Cocktails fourth edition released this May. It's a choose-your-own cocktail adventure that's billed as an adults-only children's book, complete with a graphic cocktail map and sections created in the various genres of kid’s lit, from picture books to young-adult novels.
If Richmond, Va., hasn't been on your bar radar, The Rogue Gentlemen is out to change that. It releases a new menu every three months, with each one showcasing 16 original cocktails offered up in an awesome array of aesthetic style, from a Denny’s-inspired menu (summer 2016), a field journal (fall 2016) and baseball cards to Mad Libs, a ski-run map, a decision tree (winter 2016) and a SkyMall-like catalog (spring 2017). Sometimes the theme of the menu inspired the drinks, and sometimes it's the other way around, but they're always unlike anything else you've seen.
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San Francisco's Trick Dog unveiled its ninth menu at the start of the year. Dubbed the Trick Dog Mural Project, the Bon Vivants crew brought 14 local artists together to create a series of unique public murals across the city. Each mural is then represented with a drink on the menu, with the drinks also named for the artist or artists who created it. The menu is available for sale, with proceeds benefiting two local arts nonprofits.
Dram & Grain's Dram and Global menu draws inspiration from five of the world's most prominent imbibing cities—Havana, London, New Orleans, San Francisco and Tokyo— incorporating ingredients and themes from each. That's just the beginning, though. The drinks themselves are incredibly creative and intensive—think pink flamingos, alligator-butter-infused Chartreuse, sparkling "precious" water and cinnamon roll vermouth, for starters.
It was no surprise that the NYC’s BlackTail crew followed the same wildly creative menu approach they did at The Dead Rabbit. Here, your menu is a hardcover story, which you can purchase for $50, weaving an intricate novel-worthy tale centered on a narrator who immerses himself in all things Havana while encountering an Irish-American barman, the bar he runs and its patrons.
San Diego's Polite Provisions pumped things up a notch by making its menu not only insanely inventive but also entirely interactive, in the form of a coloring book filled with games and puzzles. Oh, and there are some 80 cocktails across 13 categories for you to make your way through. Erick Castro spent a year in research and development before unleashing his whimsical masterpiece.