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Most Creative Cocktails In Pittsburgh

(photo credit: thinkstock) (photo credit: thinkstock)

If you are looking to take a break from wine, beer and your typical rum and coke drinks, these local mixologists have some creative drink ideas for you. From exotic ingredients to unique methods, these drinks are sure to add some pizazz to your next get together.

Cioppino Restaurant And Cigar Bar
2350 Railroad St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 281-6593

"The key to making a great cocktail is to have fun with it", said Tara Shinn, mixologist for Cioppino Seafood and Chop House. Shinn is also the director of mixology for Premier Innovations group, the Pittsburgh-based importing company that owns such labels as Clique vodka and Don Pantaleon tequila. Shinn has recently completed a mixbook that is available on Cique vodka's new website.For these recipes, Tara combines some unique ingredients such as wood chips with creative methods. You might want to do a practice run prior to your party.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 ¼ oz Clique Vodka
  • 2 oz apple juice
  • ¼ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz chai tea syrup*
  • .2 g hickory wood chips

To make this cocktail, add Clique Vodka, apple juice, lemon juice and chai tea syrup to a cocktail tin with ice and shake well. Strain and funnel into a clean glass bottle with a lid. Using a handheld smoking gun, load the hickory chips into the chamber and put the tube into the bottle. Turn on the smoking gun and light the hickory chips on fire until the bottle fills with dense smoke.  Turn off the gun, remove the tube, and screw on the bottle top. Shake a few times and pour the cocktail out into a julep glass.

For the Chai Syrup:
Add 5 chai tea bags to 2 cups of hot water and let steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove tea bags and squeeze any remaining liquid out before tossing. Measure the amount of concentrated chai tea and dissolve the same amount of sugar in it, before letting it cool down.


Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 ½ oz Clique Vodka
  • 1 ½ oz dark crème de cacao
  • 1 graham cracker
  • ¼ oz chocolate syrup
  • Dollop of marshmallow fluff

To make this cocktail, pour chocolate syrup onto a plate until you get a puddle about the size if a quarter. Rotate the rim of an upside-down cocktail glass through the puddle, and then dip the rim into crushed graham crackers.Drop a dollop of marshmallow fluff into the bottom of the glass. Then, pour Clique Vodka and dark crème de cacao into an ice-filled cocktail tin and shake a few times, but not too many, because if the liquid is too cold, the marshmallow will take a long time to dissolve. Next, strain it into your graham cracker and chocolate-coated cocktail glass.

Expert Tip: For a truly decadent dessert martini, add a bit of natural peanut butter on top of the marshmallow fluff.

Related: Best Bars For Networking In Pittsburgh

Wigle Whiskey
2401 Smallman St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

This recipe from Meredith Grelli, cocktail creator for Wigle Whiskey in the strip district, uses Wigle's new oak-aged Whiskey. "Our aged Whiskey is in short supply, and so delicious on it's own" says Meredith "but it is also wonderful in this adaptation of a French 75,  a cocktail which is usually made with gin". Along with her bother and parents, Grelli opened Wigle Whiskey in the strip district last March.  Because of Pittsburgh's rich ties to the Whiskey rebellion, the family thought it the ideal location for their distillery.  Wigle produces white whiskey, small batch barrel aged whiskey and a Dutch-style gin from scratch using local organic grains. Public and private tours of Wigle Whiskey are available by appointment.

Pennsylvania 75:

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3/4 oz Vermouth
  • 1 oz Wigle Aged Wheat Whiskey
  • 1 dash Triple Sec
  • 1 dash Bitters
  • Dry Champagne

To make this cocktail, stir the first four ingredients with ice cubes. Strain into a champagne flute, top with champagne and serve.

Butterjoint At Legume Bistro
214 North Craig St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Interesting liquor combinations and ingredients such as maple syrup make these cocktails from Will Groves, mixologist at Butterjoint a step up from your usual party drinks. Groves joined Legume Bistro's Butterjoint as the bar manager in early November. While Groves enjoys mixing up new cocktails, he sometimes also likes to put a new spin on the old classics.

Peated Martini:

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 oz. The Botanist gin
  • 3/4 oz.  dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Laphroaig 10 year single-malt scotch
  • 1 olive, for garnish

To make this cocktail, combine gin and vermouth in a mixing glass. Meanwhile, add the scotch to a martini glass. Swirl scotch in glass and toss out any that remains, evenly coating the inside of the glass with the scotch. Add ice to gin and vermouth and stir gently for 10-13 seconds. Strain into prepared martini glass. Add the olive.

I Swear I'll Move to Canada:

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 oz. Crown Royal Canadian whisky
  • 1/2 oz. grade A dark amber maple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • orange peel, for garnish

To make this cocktail, combine whisky, bitters and maple syrup in an old-fashioned glass. Stir briefly. Add ice and continue stirring for 5-8 seconds. Squeeze a small disc of orange peel over the top of the drink and toss it into the glass.

Related: Best Sommeliers In Pittsburgh

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 Head to CBS Pittsburgh's Best Of page for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!

Jennifer Stockdale is a native of the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. She is a restaurant marketer and wine enthusiast and one of the hosts of the East Coast Wine Geeks Podcast. Her work can be found at


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