Home Business Bar Experts in Battleground States Pick Their Election Night Drinks

Bar Experts in Battleground States Pick Their Election Night Drinks

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French 75s are for winners, but losers will need something stronger.

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(Bloomberg) — On the evening of Nov. 8, as the US midterm elections wrap up, many Americans will retreat to their preferred drinking dens to celebrate victory or drown disappointment. Beverages of choice will range from Bud Lights to a lineup of very stiff martinis.

Miles Macquarrie, who runs the bar at Atlanta’s acclaimed restaurant Kimball House, notes that customers would tend to “drink what they normally would” during election nights in the past—“only more of it.”

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In Las Vegas, Herbs & Rye bar manager Joy Figueroa says that on election nights she’s worked, sales of strong and neat pours increased. “Shots for the soul,” as she describes them, include high-proof whiskeys, spicy ryes, and high-end tequilas.

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Harry Jamison, general manager at Philadelphia’s James Beard-nominated A.kitchen+bar, has noticed a similar trend: While customers like to celebrate over sparkling wine, those in a “less celebratory mood” tend to order straight whiskey.

We polled bar pros in seven key battleground states—Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin—as well as the country’s political capital, Washington. These experts told us what they will be pouring if their candidate wins—and what they’ll reach for in the event of loss.

NORTH CAROLINA

Claire Catotti, bar manager, Alley Twenty Six, Durham

If we win: “The French 75. Gin, lemon, and simple syrup topped with dry sparkling wine is the perfect celebratory sipper. Low-enough alcohol content that you can enjoy several and still engage in political discourse.”

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If we lose: “The Alley Cocktail. Our take on a perfect Manhattan substitutes Cynar amaro and Luxardo liqueur for sweet vermouth. A stirred spirit-forward cocktail is perfect for election night, to either drown your sorrows or celebrate victoriously. Whiskey can take you in any direction you want to go, especially at 101 proof. (We use Wild Turkey 101 bourbon.)”

GEORGIA

Miles Macquarrie, co-owner and beverage director, Kimball House, Atlanta

If we win: “Grower Champagne—specifically, Tarlant Brut Nature Zero. There’s no better way to celebrate a victory.”

If we lose: “Sazerac. It’s classic, short, cold, and strong. It will help do the trick. I’d probably have more than one.”

ARIZONA

Ross Simon, owner, Bitter & Twisted, Phoenix

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If we win: “To carry the motivation, probably an espresso martini. Adds a little pep to my step and tastes like victory.”

If we lose: “Maybe a Vesper martini [made with gin, vodka and Lillet blanc] for old times’ sake. I’m not as much of a drinker as I used to be, so something like this can turn a sad day into a good day real fast.”

PENNSYLVANIA

Harry Jamison, general manager, A.kitchen+bar, Philadelphia

If we win: “I’m drinking a French 75 made with either cognac or gin (cognac is my preference), lemon juice, sugar, and sparkling wine. The drink is simple, festive, and often forgotten, considering how good it is. Also, if you really feel like going for it, use Champagne as the sparkling wine; it makes the drink unbelievably good.”

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If we lose: “A good way to wallow in your sorrow is to savor a contemplative spirit, like an overproof whiskey. Higher-proof spirits take some getting used to, but they have more concentrated flavors that unfold on your palate over a longer period of time. So, taking a sip of a peaty Islay Scotch, like Ardbeg Uigeadail, or a bourbon finished in pear brandy, amaro, and Jamaican rum barrels, like Barrell Armida, is an opportunity to let the complex flavors of the spirit slowly wash over you while you think about all of the things that went wrong in your life.”

NEVADA

Joy Figueroa, bar manager, Herbs & Rye, Las Vegas

Whether we win or lose: “The Weekend at the Waldorf! Made with rum, Curaçao, fresh strawberry purée, and lime. It’s the perfect way to celebrate, and takes after its namesake: gorgeous, opulent and delicious, guaranteed to keep the good time rolling. In the event the person I voted for hasn’t won, we’re going to stay upbeat and keep positive vibes in our bar.” 

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OHIO

Bryan Tetorakis, general manager, The Spotted Owl, Cleveland

If we win: “I go martini for any celebratory situation. It’s worth the extra effort to have a fresh bottle of dry vermouth handy—and freezer-kept gin—when taking your victory lap. I like mine with a lemon spritz and cucumber garnish.”

If we lose: “An old-fashioned. I’m going to build it right in the glass, nothing under 100 proof. Best part is, there is very little clean up, so I’m not dealing with a mess and a headache in the morning. Bourbon, demerara, Angostura bitters, orange twist, and an Amarena cherry. I also like to float a little Amaro Sfumato or 10-year-old tawny port on top, for either peppery-tobacco or nutty-chocolate flavors.”

WISCONSIN

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John Dye, owner, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee

If we win: “I will likely celebrate with our Railsplitter cocktail. This bourbon drink, made with a hint of cherry, was named after Abraham Lincoln who, to me, stood for freedom and integrity.”

If we lose: “I’ll probably sulk with an SB, a classic World War II cocktail made with brandy, gin, ginger beer, and bitters. Traditionally, this was a cocktail you would drink when you felt a complete sense of defeat. The full name of the cocktail, for those who know, says it all.”  (Editor’s note: That name would be “suffering b———.”)

WASHINGTON

Joseph Oddo, beverage director, Jack Rose Dining Saloon

If we win: “Daiquiris all day—such a bright and positive cocktail that carries energy across the room and is often used for celebrations. Shared among friends for the first round on a Friday night, a toast of mini-daiquiris after a long but rewarding shift between bartenders. Appropriate for any kind of win.”

If we lose: “I would make our house Vieux Carre. Our tweaked proportions of 100-proof rye, cognac, and sweet vermouth married together by Benedictine and Amaro di Angostura is a perfect, slow-drinking cocktail that gives you time to think and decompress.”

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