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Drink Like a Fish

Mixologists look for cocktail inspiration under the sea

Author Dena Roché Photography Mia Wasilevich

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LOS ANGELES – Seafood lovers have long slurped oyster shooters and nibbled on shrimp-topped Bloody Marys, but creatures of the deep have lately been promoted from the garnish to the main event, as bartenders put oceanic spins on classic cocktails. For instance, at Wolf in the Fog in Tofino, British Columbia, smoked salmon–infused vodka is mixed with maple, ginger, and fresh orange, while New York City bartender George Hock has served a dirty martini with squid ink. 

At the Loyal Nine, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, bar manager Bryn Tattan offers a New England twist on the classic whiskey sour. She pairs Rittenhouse rye, lime juice, simple syrup, and cloves with a house Worcestershire sauce made with dates, onions, molasses, and a one-two umami punch of fermented mackerel and oyster sauce. “The resulting drink lingers on the palate and piques people’s interest,” Tattan says. “It’s a continued conversation piece.” 

Perhaps the most adventurous maritime mixologist is LA’s Matthew Biancaniello, whose savory cocktail book, Eat Your Drink (out this month), includes tipples that incorporate ingredients like Santa Barbara sea urchin. His Fish Out of Water, served at The Fat Dog’s locations in both North and West Hollywood, features scotch infused with bonito flakes—the dried and shaved meat of a tunalike fish that’s popular in Japan for its rich, savory flavor. 

“It’s for people interested in trying something really different and wrapping their heads around something that shouldn’t work but does,” says Biancaniello.

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