at the Dead Rabbit
With 72 historical drinks in rotation at this financial-district saloon, it’s hard to cover much territory in a single visit. To amend this, barkeep Jack McGarry designed flights that offer two-ounce glasses of six cocktails pulled from menu categories like “Bishops” (spiced wines), “Flips, Possets and Nogs” (creamy egg concoctions), and “Communal Punch.” For $30, trace the last one’s journey from its seventeenth-century Spice Island origin (Meriton Latroon’s Bantam arrack punch kicks off the tasting) through Pisco Punch, an 1840s tipple popular during the San Francisco gold rush. 30 Water St., nr. Broad St.; 646-422-7906.
at Amor y Amargo
Italian amari and other international bitters are the specialty at this East Village cubbyhole, presented in brawny cocktails and in guided flights and built around each guest’s tastes and knowledge base. Fans of Fernet-Branca may want to sample other varieties of the aromatic spirit, like the Czech Jelínek and Mexican Vallet, or work their way through citrus bitters, starting with familiar Campari or Aperol and pushing into Gran Classico and Amère Sauvage. The $12-to-$16 flights feature three one-ounce pours; bartenders offer tasting notes as you go along and provide $4 glasses of vermouth to clear the palate in between sips. 443 E. 6th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-614-6817.
at Tooker Alley
A menu highlight at Prospect Heights saloon Tooker Alley is the historical chronology of the martini, which owner Del Pedro calls a “Pygmalion” drink. Titanium-livered guests can devise their own tasting, pulling from the menu of six four-to-four-and-a-half-ounce coupes. A better bet: Wait for a slow moment and ask Pedro for an off-menu flight ($16)—three two-ounce pours that trace the martini’s history from its 1860s roots through its 1890s maturation, when it was dubbed a “Marguerite.” 793 Washington Ave., nr. Lincoln Pl., Prospect Heights; 347-955-4743.
at Tiki Mondays
Barkeep Brian Miller’s traveling tiki show recently set up shop at Mother’s Ruin where, every Monday night, he presents a menu of classic tropical drinks. Get to know the Polynesian canon’s most persistent icon, the lethal, rum-soaked Zombie, via Miller’s $16 flight, which compares tiki pioneer Don the Beachcomber’s 1934 recipe with its 1950 and 1956 iterations. You’ll get three two-ounce pours of each version, presented on a wooden plank—and Miller will be on hand to walk you through the drink’s evolution, from the three-rum original through its mid-century upgrowth, spiked with Maraschino liqueur and passion-fruit syrup. 18 Spring St., nr. Elizabeth St.; no phone.
at Pouring Ribbons
Chartreuse, the intensely herbal, ancient liqueur made in secrecy by Carthusian monks, is a favorite of craft cocktail obsessives. With its vast collection of green and yellow bottlings, Pouring Ribbons is a hub for this breed of fetishist. Bartenders will walk you through customizable tastings, sold by the ounce or half-ounce (from $3 to $200), based on your familiarity with the spirit, comparing the flavor of, say, a forties yellow Chartreuse with its eighties or modern-day counterparts. 225 Ave. B, nr. 13th St., second fl.; 917-656-6788.