(Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )

(Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )

Mixologists have much in common with both chemists and chefs: each has their own favorite creations. Connecticut has thousands of these professionals working at hundreds of establishments. Keeping up with each other, let alone staying creative, is a real challenge – but one that real mixologists love to meet. Here are five of the most creative cocktails they have come up with.

Puerto Vallarta

15 W. Avon Road
Avon, CT 06018
(860) 675-1999

At Puerto Vallarta of Avon, like most Mexican restaurants, the margarita is the queen of the bar. Nobody makes a better margarita than long-time bartender Alex, who often goes “off-book” to prepare special versions of the classic to taste for the more appreciative of his regular customers. He even names some of these concoctions after those patrons. While these recipes are held in confidence to keep them truly special, there is one very creative margarita that Alex, Roberto and others behind the bar are often called upon to make – the truly massive jumbo margarita. With 32 ounces of liquid, it is perhaps more party punch than cocktail, but while meant to be shared by at least a couple if not a table, there are customers who will come in and order one just for themselves. Here, courtesy of Roberto, is the recipe for the jumbo – so big it comes in a special glass.

Puerto Vallarta Jumbo Margarita

  • 1800 Tequila
  • Cointreau liqueur
  • Triple sec
  • Grand Marnier
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Fresh orange juice
  • Ice
  • Salt

Roberto says the key to this is the tequila, and Puerto Vallarta’s bartenders prefer the 1800 Tequila as the base. They pour five shots of the 1800 into the pitcher, add in a shot each of Cointreau, Grand Marnier and triple sec, and then pour in one ounce of fresh lime juice and two ounces of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Stir and serve over ice in a massive salted glass.

Riverwalk Restaurant
14 Holmes St.
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-5220

Mystic’s Riverwalk Restaurant on SchoonerWharf (named for the type of sailing ship, not the big beer mug of the same name) prides itself on offering patrons a lengthy list of specialty cocktails and martinis. Some are very simple and made special only by the pun in the name (the  “Betty White” – Grey Goose on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon), but most are much more elaborate, inventive and intriguing. Here are two of the truly creative cocktails:

Dark and Stormy

  • Goslings Black Seal Rum
  • Regatta ginger beer
  • Ice
  • Lemon

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Pour in two ounces of rum. Add in three ounces of ginger beer. After building the highball cocktail, serve with a lemon wedge.

Oatmeal Cookie

  • Jagermeister
  • Goldschlager
  • DeKuyper Buttershots Schnapps
  • Baileys Irish Cream

Fill a chilled metal shaker half way with ice cubes. Pour in a quarter of an ounce of each of the four alcoholic ingredients and shake vigorously.  Using a strainer to keep back the unmelted ice, strain into a large shot glass.

Related: Top Sommeliers In Connecticut

Bartenders Academy
663 Lakewood Road
Waterbury, CT 06704
(203) 754-6000

Sometimes the best recipes for drinks come not from restaurants or bars, but from the schools that train their mixologists. BartendersAcademy of Waterbury is one of the finest and best-known in the state. Here are two favorite recipes from Kelli, arguably the cutest little bartender in Connecticut.

Vanilla Gingerbread Martini

  • Hiram Walker gingerbread liqueur
  • Stoli vanilla vodka
  • Cream
  • Ice

Kelli says you can use any brand of the alcoholic beverages listed, but you should make sure that all of the ingredients and the cocktail glass are chilled. Fill a mixing glass half way with ice. Pour one and a half ounces of the gingerbread liqueur over the ice, add an ounce of vanilla vodka and then add in one ounce of cream. Pour this mix of liqueurs, ice and cream into a metal shaker – and shake quickly and briefly. Use a strainer or otherwise take care when pouring the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass so as to keep the ice back, as it is best served straight up.

Tipsy Turkey

  • Wild Turkey American Honey (a blended liqueur of honey and bourbon whiskey)
  • Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie Liqueur
  • Cranberry juice
  • Cinnamon
  • Ice

Take a collins glass and fill with ice. Pour in an ounce of whiskey. Add in cranberry juice – enough to nearly but not quite fill the glass. Top off with a half ounce of the liqueur. Do not stir or shake; just let the liqueur sit up there and work its way down on its own. Finish off with a dash of cinnamon and serve with a straw (as sipping it through a straw is the best way to enjoy this creative cocktail).

Related: Top Brewpubs Serving Seasonal Beer In Connecticut

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. His work can be found at Examiner.com.