With lower-alcohol Suppressor cocktails, less is more

Ticonderoga Club’s Greg Best and Kimball House’s Miles Macquarrie make cocktails that are easy to drink—and easy to enjoy more of
Drink More

Photograph by Iain Bagwell

Somewhere around eight years ago, two of this city’s more scholarly cocktail makers, Ticonderoga Club’s Greg Best and Kimball House’s Miles Macquarrie, were discussing how they might drink less. Not fewer cocktails per se, but less alcohol.

“With the cocktail renaissance came a bent towards stirred, boozy drinks,” says Best, who was then working at Holeman & Finch Public House. “But Manhattans and martinis aren’t what we want to drink on a regular basis.” Macquarrie, who worked at Leon’s Full Service at the time, agrees: “It’s tough to sustain an evening that way.”

So, they came up with a term: Suppressor. “You’re basically suppressing the booze, and you’re enabling kind of a longer ride, as it were,” Best says. They set a rule: No ingredient in a Suppressor-style drink should be over 25 percent ABV (amount of alcohol by volume). “So a lot of the Suppressors contain aromatized and fortified wines, beers, or ciders,” Best says. “And a lot of them took on a spritz-y profile because it’s easier to stretch something with bubbles, whether it’s sparkling wine or club soda.” Then, they asked some of Atlanta’s best bartenders to concoct their own Suppressor-style recipes and commit to keeping them on their menus. “This style of drink can be tricky,” Macquarrie says. “Fortified wines are great for acid, and amaros have that bitterness, but each of them also contains a lot of sugar, so taming that and balancing out the drinks is a fun challenge.” Suppressors became somewhat of a thing after that.

And they still are. The recipes may have changed, and the term may no longer be printed on menus, but the vernacular is there. “You could walk into just about any bar in the city and ask for a Suppressor-style cocktail, and you will absolutely get one,” Best says, listing BoccaLupo, Ration + Dram, Bon Ton, Cakes & Ale, and, of course, Ticonderoga Club and Kimball House. Try it.

Make one at home 

2 ounces Genesee Cream Ale
2 ounces dry sparkling wine, such as Cava
1 1/2 ounces Casa Mariol Spanish vermouth
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce rich cane syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

Assemble the beer and wine in a large tumbler glass half filled with ice. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the other ingredients, then strain over the beer and wine blend. If need be, add a few ice cubes to level the drink, and stir gently. Garnish with lemon peel. Recipe by Greg Best

This article originally appeared in our January 2018 issue.