2017 James Beard Award finalists

It’s a week of announcements! Hard on the heels of Tales of the Cocktail’s agenda reveal comes the list of 2017 James Beard Award finalists, which includes these notable local cocktail bars and bartenders:

Outstanding Bar Program

  • Bar Agricole
    (Bar Agricole helped drive ethical cocktail sourcing. You can’t get a Campari drink at the bar, but you can get an amaro made from known ingredients that could be tracked from harvest to bottle.)

Book Award: Beverage Category

  • Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki, Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate
    (I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t take the award. It’s a beautiful tome, a friendly look at a niche category, and the photography of over-the-top decorated tiki drinks grabs the attention more than your average cocktail book. My copy is, of course, signed by Martin and Rebecca.)

Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional

  • Lance Winters, St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA
    (St. George is a font of local excellence and sass. Their Terroir is my ne plus ultra of gin.)

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Amante Amaro, Heritage Tavern

The Amante Amaro at Heritage Tavern in Madison, WI. Cynar, Cynar 70, housemade artichoke tincture, guajillo pepper and porter syrup, lemon, fir tips.

amante-amaro

Though I didn’t sip the Amanate Amaro until August 2016, I’d first craved it in January, when someone sent me an image of its description on the menu.

Artichoke enthusiasts will note the layers here. Cynar AND Cynar 70? (Equal parts, I eventually learned.) Artichoke tincture boosts the flavors in the famously artichoke-inspired amaro — especially helpful if, like me, you find Cynar to taste inadequately of artichokes.

Upon learning of this drink I reached out to Heritage Tavern to ask about their housemade artichoke tincture. The detailed response underscored my firm belief that bartenders are the friendliest artists that an enthusiast can speak with. Here are some selections from the information that Bar Manager Clinton told me:
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