The menu in a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages often contains this section: specialty drinks. What is it, exactly?
This could mean different things. You call the cocktails offered in the bar as a specialty drink, since it requires a bartender who knows how to make these drinks. It may also refer to cocktails the restaurant or bar is known for. A Bloody Mary is very common, but it can be a specialty drink in a bar that makes an excellent (or even unique) Bloody Mary. The last definition of specialty drinks is this: original cocktail mixes invented or developed by the bar or restaurant.
The drinks in this list are alcoholic, although it is not uncommon to find a non-alcoholic drink here too.
Specialty Drink Trivia
- The list of specialty drinks is a collection of specialty drink, synonymous to a signature drink (both terms can be used interchangeably).
Specialty Drink Production & Farming in Texas
There are many restaurants and bars in Texas that offer specialty drinks.
June Naylor, in the book Food Lovers’ Guide to® Dallas & Fort Worth: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings, talked about specialty drinks in Texas. “Plan to spend some time enjoying the bar here, too; specialty drinks using Texas-made liquors include the Texas 2 Step, mixing Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka with lemonade and ice tea, and Whiskey Creek, blending Rebecca Creek Whiskey with bitters, sweet vermouth, and orange sour.”
James Oseland, in the book Saveur: The New Comfort Food: Home Cooking from Around the World, made mention of Gage Hotel’s signature drink, a “refreshing cucumber cooler” which is very popular among those visiting this hotel located in Marathon, Texas.
Other specialty drinks in Texas go way back, and some have its origins neither in a restaurant nor in a bar, but in the most unexpected of places, like a pharmacy, for example. Amy K. Brown, in the book Backroads & Byways of Texas: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions, wrote about a signature drink created during the earl 1900s. “Mention you need a sip of something cold and the friendly folks in San Augustine will send you right down to the San Augustine Drug Company with instructions to order the signature drink, the Grapefruit Highball.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
Specialty drinks are usually premium drinks made from authentic ingredients. For example, if it needs citrus, it will have lemon juice or orange juice. For some restaurants and bars, they find a way to make specialty drinks without using premium ingredients and substituting for cheaper alternatives. This is when additives become a main concern for specialty drinks. The use of cheap alternatives like artificial flavors, artificial food coloring, and artificial sweeteners, means there are additives found in your drink.
In the case of canned or bottled specialty drinks, expect to find additional additives, particularly those meant to increase the shelf life of canned drinks and preserve the quality of the canned cocktail drink so that it remains safe to drink.
The history of making unique and special drinks that led to the creation of what we now know as specialty drinks is a long and colorful history, a practice that has continued through the years involving different countries and different cultures.
Specialty drinks are best consumed where it is made – by the bar or while you are eating in your table, the specialty drink complementing your food perfectly. But it is not unheard of to have specialty drinks to-go. This is especially true as restaurants and bars tried to make it through the pandemic when dining or drinking in a restaurant or bar is prohibited and all they can offer are food and drinks to go.
In the bar, they will serve your specialty drink in the correct type of glass or stemware, complete with all the trimmings. A large part of the presentation disappears when you order specialty drinks for take out or to-go. The packaging of to-go or take out drinks is usually just a plastic cup with a lid. You can also find ready-to-drink cocktails sold in plastic bottles and in cans.
Enjoying Specialty Drinks
Specialty drinks and good food come together. This explains why restaurants offer specialty drinks to customers looking to dine and drink. A specialty drink is something to drink while waiting for their food, to drink as they would an apéritif (drink that stimulates the appetite), to drink while eating, or to drink after eating as they would a digestif.
Jolie Carpenter, in the book Spectacular Restaurants of Texas, talked about a dine-and-drink experience in Texas and mentioned a specific kind of specialty drink. “After a meal of chicken fried oysters on angel hair pasta with applewood-smoked bacon and tart apples or grilled Black Angus tenderloin with blue cheese, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, guests often linger for an after-dinner cognac or a specialty drink, like the Gorgeous Martin.”
Refrigerate your specialty drinks. If you brought home a take-out specialty drink, make sure to remove the ice because the ice will melt even if the drink is refrigerated and it will affect the taste of the drink when you drink it later.
Making Specialty Drinks
Unlike healthy drinks loaded with vitamins and minerals, specialty drinks are not consumed because of its nutritional value but for its taste. But that does not mean specialty drinks have zero nutritional value. The nutritional benefits one gets from a specialty drink depends on the type of drink and what this drink is made of.