What Are Miniature Cocktails And Where To Get Them

Meet the miniature drinks taking the cocktail world by storm

Attention commitment-phobes: This drink is for you. Pint-sized cocktails are popping up on drink menus around the country. Some are intended to allow bartenders to experiment; others are aimed at tipplers who want to try more than one drink, or want just a few sips to warm up to or ease out from the evening.

At New York's recently refurbished Holiday Cocktail Lounge, keep an eye on the "Research & Development" section of the drink menu. The "proto-cocktails" outlined there are experimental offerings—not shots, but cocktails doled out in shot-glass sizes alongside beer backs. One recent offering was a mix of aged cachaça, fernet and Cocchi Americano paired with Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, but the limited-offering shots change frequently.

"It's a way for us to experiment," explains proprietor Michael Neff. "If people like it, we'll consider adding it to the menu as a full-size cocktail."

Meanwhile, at Chicago's Atwood, inside the Hotel Burnham, small pours are a late-night feature. Although they're not listed on the menu, executive chef Brian Millman notes that, just like flights of bourbon can help guests find their ideal whiskey, a flight of teeny martinis can help drinkers determine how they prefer their cocktail—dry or wet, with gin or vodka, and so forth.

And at The Up & Up in New York, two-ounce "halfies" were inspired by the now-defunct bar Gin Palace. Head bartender Chaim Dauermann, who formerly manned the bar at Gin Palace, brought the tradition with him: What started as a "staff shot"—Chief Gowanus Gin and Montenegro Amaro, a.k.a. the Slam Busy—is now available to all.

"It's too intense as a whole cocktail, but it's perfect as a halfie," Dauermann says. Some people sip a halfie as an aperitif while they look over the menu, others order it as a shot alongside a beer or cocktail back and still others order a halfie as a mellow, last-round choice.

"It's half of a cocktail or a shot," laughs Dauermann, "depending on how fast you drink."