These 5 craft cocktails show off Des Moines bartenders' mad skills
The Dirty Centaur, one of the craft cocktails at Proof restaurant in Des Moines engineered by bartender Jared Giunta, who said he created this drink while mending a broken heart.
The craft cocktail scene in Des Moines is hitting its stride. All over the city, bar professionals are using their creativity and showcasing their talent when it comes to the exquisite art of the cocktail. There's now a concoction for every taste, cuisine, and price range in the city.
Here are five craft cocktails to try in Des Moines to get you started. We know there are lots more worth mentioning, of course, so if you have a favorite Des Moines cocktail in mind that you'd like to tell people about, please feel free to leave your recommendation in the comments.
The Smoking Gun at RoCA
Ever since RoCA opened in 2014, its cocktail list has given Des Moines some unique flavor profiles. The Smoking Gun ($12) is evidence. Bulleit Bourbon, Angostura bitters and maple syrup are combined and chilled, served in a Bulleit bottle filled with wood chip smoke. It comes with a lowball glass on the side for sipping with ice, and a brûléed orange peel. The bartender recommends pouring half the cocktail into the glass, screwing the top back on and finishing the rest of the smoky goodness when you're ready for it.
Location: 208 Court Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m.
Grilled Jalapeño Cucumber Infused Margarita at Guru BBQ
This spicy margarita is infused with freshly grilled jalapeños, cucumbers, triple sec and tequila. It's then topped with Guru's own house-made sweet and sour mix ($5). Bar manager and bar veteran, Michelle Yarger, has created a drink menu that pairs perfectly with Guru's zesty barbecue.
Location: 300 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy., #170, Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Mad City Sling at Django
Django's bartender, C.J. Ryherd, has a competitive spirit, and his refreshing Mad City Sling ($10) has won awards in several cocktail contests. Yahara Bay gin from Madison, Wis., a homemade gentian aperitif liqueur, a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and his own homemade bitters made from spring grapefruit come together with the addition of some of his own rhubarb-fennel syrup. It's topped off with a splash of Rocky’s ginger beer and fresh mint. It's summery and sip-worthy.
Location: 210 10th St., Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 4 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Marjorie at Hello, Marjorie
Mixologist Zacharia Avila came up with this cocktail to honor part-owner Nick Tillinghast's grandmother, for whom the place is named. The Marjorie ($9) brings sloe gin back to sexy status. Plymouth sloe gin is shaken with Absolut pear vodka, fresh lemon and raspberry bitters for zing, and strained. It’s served straight up with a sprig of rosemary that adds a nice, herbaceous nose to the drink. The rosemary was Tillinghast’s idea.
Location: 717 Locust St., Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
The Dirty Centaur at Proof
Inspiration can come from life itself. Proof's mixologist, Jared Giunta, went through a breakup and created a signature drink from it. The Dirty Centaur ($16) is a blend of bourbon, Cynar (a bitter Italian spirit made from artichokes and botanicals), Byrrh (a quinquina bark aromatized spirit) and Punt e Mes (an Italian sweet vermouth). The drink starts out bitter and powerful, and then it mellows and sweetens with time.
Location: 1301 Locust St., Suite C, Des Moines
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.