There used to be three drinking genres -- wine, spirits or beer -- and most folks stuck with just one on any given evening.
In recent years, however, the divisions among wine, cocktail and beer drinkers have blurred, says Jason Wilson, author of "Boozehound," and columnist for The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Daily News.
"Now, you're not a wine person; you're not a brandy person; you're not a craft beer person," he told Drink Philly. "For the younger person, everything is in play. Someone might tick off all three in one night."
Restaurants and bars are rising to satiate any craving by curating wine lists that focus on region or organic wineries. They're making craft and signature cocktails with an eye on service, style and fresh ingredients. They're selling craft beers highlighting local brewers and esoteric flavor combinations.
The result is that Pittsburgh has some interesting places to enjoy a new brew or a satisfying spirit. Here's a subjective list of what to drink and where to find it. These sips speak to summer.
A late-night wine flight at Spoon
134 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty. 412-362-6001
Sommelier John Wabeck features an interesting deal with the wine flight on the late-night menu that's $14. "Lately we've started with a 2-ounce pour of Dolin Blanc vermouth, followed by a half glass each of Italian rose, a sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux and a barbaresco for the red," he said. Mr. Wabeck selected wines to pair with the dim sum menu, though the flight is worth drinking on its own. They're lovely wines poured by one of the city's most knowledgeable wine guys.
A shrub cocktail at Allegheny Wine Mixer
5326 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-252-2337
Start with a shrub cocktail such as the house-made concoction owner Jamie Patten calls "We got the beet." A golden beet and thyme shrub brightens bourbon with honey-ginger simple syrup. The $10 cocktail changes according to what inspires the staff, whether it's a grapefruit shrub that becomes a take on a Salty Dog or a red onion shrub for an onion martini. Besides the cocktails, Allegheny Wine Mixer features an accessible wine list, such as the $5 spicy McWilliams Jack Red Blend or the two-glass comparison that highlight varietals and regions. This week's $10 pours compare tart whites or light and full bodied Chilean reds.
A dessert drink at Burgatory
932 Freeport Road, Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall. 412-781-1456
Hard shakes are the boozy summer drinks, the base of which is the vanilla bean soft serve made in-house with milk, cream and eggs from Pennsylvania's Titusville Dairy in Crawford County. Best-selling shakes include the dark rum and banana liquor called Monkey Business, which competes with the Burnt Almond Torte, made with vanilla vodka, amaretto and Prantl's burnt almond torte. Shakes are $8 with booze, $6 without it.
A Michelada at Round Corner Cantina
3720 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-904-2279
A sprawling back patio makes this a mecca for summer sipping into the wee hours, while a quartet of Micheladas makes for tasty swilling. A Del Sol of Dos Equis lager, lime, ice and salted rim touts the basics, while $5 and $5.50 variations include the Mexican with jalapeno, the Espana with bloody mary mix, and a variation on the shandy. The kitchen offers late-night bites until 11 during the week, midnight on weekends and 10 p.m. Sundays, from carnitas and chorizo tacos to standby chips and salsa.
An off-menu cocktail at Tender Kitchen + Bar
4300 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-402-9522
Bartenders looking to expand a drink menu sought inspiration in a wood-bound 1941 reprint of "Here's How" from 1927. "A pint of corn" in the instructions is code for "unspecified, alcoholic liquid of unknown origin" as it turns out.
Tender uses Wigle Whiskey distilled in the Strip District along with egg whites, grenadine, cream and seltzer to form this frothy drink. "Don't get near a fire after one of these!" warns the recipe, an admonition that begged the house to make it.
Those looking for something more summery may consider the more demure Old Bond Street Fizz with gin, bourbon, creme de violette, lavender, vanilla, egg white and cream. "Smooth as a proper shave," notes bartender Sean Rosenkrans.
A briny shot at Sonny's Tavern
630 S. Millvale Ave., Bloomfield. 412-683-5844
There's something fascinating about the decidedly non-artisan pickleback at Sonny's Tavern, the vodka shot that pairs with a neon brine that's so bright it's unnatural. Modest pours in a pair of plastic shot glasses ensure no harm's done -- for a single round, anyway. Though take note: It may serve as lube for a karaoke debut or prompt one to join patrons in an LL Cool J or Katy Perry sing-a-long.
An aperitif for an appetite at Cure
5336 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-252-2595
Negronis have been the darling of cocktail drinkers, prompting Imbibe Magazine's christening of this week as a dedication to the drink. This bitter aperitif made with equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth is as refreshing as it is stylish.
The bartender behind this newly opened bar, Colin Anderson, is known for his ambition in that he makes his own bitters and amari and is especially knowledgeable. But the Negroni is the drink that stirs the appetite for a meaty feast, the flavors of which are featured in house-cured meat.
A cool cave at D's Six Pax and Dogz
1118 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. 412-241-4666
Though the decor is bare bones here, the beer selection is not -- with 29 taps and hundreds of bottles. If the beer cave doesn't cool down a wilted guest, a brew will. Barman Sean Ebbitt recommends the Nugget Nectar from Troegs Brewing Co. in Harrisburg, an imperial red with a lot of hop and a hint of grapefruit for $6 a pint. For non-hopheads, he recommends Bell's Oberon, a wheaty summery beer with a hint of sweetness for $5.50.
Wine with a view at Bridge Ten Brasserie
20 S. 10th St., South Side. 412-586-5033
Every Friday the restaurant offers small bites during its Amuse Bouche from 5:30 to 7 p.m., a $10 happy hour on the patio. This week is the inaugural, during which sommelier-owner Dave DeSimone will pour a 2011 Capucine Rouge, Vin de Pays de l'Aude, an easy drinking red from southern France, and the 2011 Elicio, Vin de Pays Mediterranee, a fruity, crisp white made from Rolle grapes grown near the Italian border.
Brews by the water's edge at Redfin Blues
100 Waterfront Drive, Washington's Landing. 412-322-5837
One of the few spots on the river in a city with plenty of waterfront real estate, patrons are here for the deck and the views of Downtown and the Allegheny River. Stick to simple drinks such as familiar wines by the glass or buckets of Miller Lite for $15, weekdays 4 to 6 p.m.
Melissa McCart: 412-263-1198 or on Twitter @melissamccart First Published May 30, 2013 4:00 AM