The “cocktail” hashtag on TikTok is pure chaos: cotton candy ’tinis, blue Ramos Gin Fizzes and whatever this is. It is not, in other words, the first place I would go for genuine inspiration. I was here, instead, to understand just how broad the notion of a “cocktail” can be. However, on this particular day I was struck by something majestic: an upturned mini bottle of Malibu shoved into a strawberry-flavored drink served over crushed ice. Yes, the drink was 90 percent Sprite and almost certainly undrinkable, but I did not care. I loved what I was seeing. A mini Hennessy inverted in the “Henny Island”? Smirnoff tipped into what looks like a riff on a Screwdriver? Crown Apple atop a bold mixture of Red Bull, lemonade and green apple syrup? Sign me up.
This style of serve is not new. Minis have been sprouting from cocktails for years, a fixture of bars from Miami to New York to Texas, where the upturned bottle in question is more commonly a Coronita in a frozen Margarita. At the Dallas BBQ chain, in addition to the test tubes full of industrial alcohol that can be inserted into any of the “famous frozen drinks,” diners may purchase such upgrades as Champagne minis, Coronitas and, yes, even moscato rosé.
@beeatreee Henny Island 🌴 #fyp #bartender #barrecipes #mixeddrinks #hennessey #hennydrinks ♬ Do It To It - ACRAZE
The upturned mini even enjoyed a momentary brush with craft cocktail fame after starring on the menu at New York’s now-closed Genuine Liquorette, where acclaimed bartender Eben Freeman deployed a specialized apparatus, dubbed the “Cha-Chunker,” to allow minis to be cutely inserted into cans. When a frozen mini of Bacardí appeared a few years later in the Gone Rumming at Major Food Group’s now-shuttered Polynesian, it felt like the inverted bottle might finally be making moves, and leaving Dallas BBQ in the rearview.
I imagine those bars understood its appeal as a gesture of hospitality. Like the cocktail sidecar, the upturned mini signals a certain generosity. There’s joy in receiving the whole thing, like when a flight attendant hands over the can of Coke rather than pouring three-quarters of it into your plastic cup before rolling off, or when a basket of bread arrives at your table, free of charge. In the age of the $20 cocktail and the upcharged side of bread, the feeling of getting a little extra goes a long way.
Seeing these minis populate my screen is also a reminder that there’s room for the serious and the silly to coexist in cocktails. Sure, the Mojito with an upturned bottle of Havana Club might not taste any better than the one mixed in its entirety by the bartender—in fact, it’s likely worse—but that’s beside the point. The inverted mini ceremoniously crumbles the wall between guest and bartender, a wall cemented into place by the cocktail revival, during which it was the bartender’s duty to school the public on what a proper cocktail looked like. An upturned bottle instead invites the guest to be involved in crafting their drink in some small, but not insignificant, way.
As of this moment, the mini’s big moves might be mostly confined to TikTok. But I can’t shake the appeal. So find me waiting patiently for its revival at the nearest Dallas BBQ, Hennessy Colada in hand.