Spring is in the air, and although crocuses are poking through the dirt and birds have begun to stretch their wings, there are much more exciting things in store for the winter-weary. Springtime brings the haute-couture wizardry of Fashion Week, the fashionista’s boutique candy store, during which the fashion capitals of the world allow the most fabulous designers on earth to showcase their latest collections in front of the rich, famous, and trend-savvy. This is the stuff of millionaires and toothpicks (except in Madrid, where the skinny models have been banned!), celebutantes and Vogue.
But even if you can’t jet off to Milan, Paris, or Tokyo, you can still pay tribute to the cities that lead the fashion charge by sipping a cocktail in homage to the world’s couture meccas. While you may never get the chance to sit a Manolo’s throw from the catwalk, you can raise your glass to Milan, Paris, London, New York, Singapore, and a few other Fashion Week hotspots.
Milan’s Fashion Week is a whirlwind of color, couture, and northern-Italian charm. This year’s shows paid tribute to James Bond, with several designers, including Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, playing with the tuxedos and bowties favored by Agent 007 himself. Of course, Boston is chock full of Italian restaurants and lounges, but where else but Croma (269 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.247.3200) can you enjoy a Bond Girl martini ($9), the perfect way to indulge your inner super-spy? Zardetto prosecco, orange juice, and Peachtree Schnapps will leave you shaken and, yes, even stirred, by its fresh, zingy fruitiness.
If your style is more romantic than action/adventure, stop in at Sasso (116 Huntington Avenue, Boston, 617.247.2400) for a Parisian martini ($13), a subtle French kiss. Since designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent worked so hard this season, they deserve a toast in their honor, oui? The Parisian, an aperitif of Stoli Razberi, pineapple, raspberries, and Champagne, is light, frothy, and only hints at sweetness, just as the French do. It’s as fresh and inviting as Sasso co-owner Ted Kennedy, who’s a more gracious host than you could ever find in Paris.
For a one-stop booze shop and a visit to opposite corners of the fashion globe, breeze into Eastern Standard (528 Comm Ave, Boston, 617.532.9100), where bar manager Jackson Cannon will be your spirited tour guide. For a proper British cocktail reminiscent of London’s tweedy class and modern elegance, try an ES Pimm’s Cup ($9), a mixture of Pimm’s No. 1 (a spiced, gin-based beverage the color of English tea), orange juice, and ginger. If the Eastern hemisphere beckons you instead, order up a Singapore Sling ($9), in honor of the elixir invented at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel in the early 1900s. The original is made with gin, cherry brandy, and a slew of fruity juices and liquors.
Fashion in China spans a vibrant spectrum, with designs incorporating traditional dress elements like sashes and flowered silks into an explosion of contemporary asymmetry and cutting-edge streamlines. Hong Kong, a region of China commonly touted as a city where the East collides with the West, is renowned for its nightlife, cuisine, and, of course, its fashion. Apropos of Hong Kong’s mishmash of traditional Asian elements and modern innovation is the lychee martini ($12) — a delicious marriage of SV Silk Vodka, fresh lychee purée, and lemon — at Mantra (52 Temple Place, Boston, 617.542.8111).
Of course, the heavyweight fashion hub of the Far East is Tokyo, where urban fashion thrives and Gwen Stefani snatches trends right from the streets. (Remember her Harajuku Girls?) Nod your head to the fashions of Japan by imbibing a cocktail named for another representative of Japanese culture, the dragon. Uni Sashimi Bar at Clio (370 Comm Ave, Boston, 617.536.7200) serves up a cocktail with jade-colored spice. The Enter the Dragon ($12) is a delicately fiery mixture of Stoli Oranj, Kalamansi lime juice, and cayenne pepper, which creates an aftermath of warm tingling on your soft palate.
Of course, let’s not forget, though, the good ol’ US of A. Boston will soon have a Fashion Week of its own, but until then, we’ll continue to drink to New York, the place for American geniuses like Zac Posen and Calvin Klein to strut their stuff (via those paper-thin models, of course). Head to SoHo (386 Market Street, Brighton, 617.562.6000), the eponymous celebration of the hippest neighborhood in Manhattan, for a SoHo martini ($8) — made with Skyy vodka and Blue Curacao with a splash of sour — to celebrate your style in style.
You don’t have to swathe yourself head-to-toe in designer labels in order to drink to your favorite designers. Of course, if you want to (and you can), we’re not stopping you. In fact, we applaud your chic savoir faire. Just don’t forget: you may have the trendiest handbag or the kickiest shoes, but the best accessory to any outfit is a perfectly mixed cocktail. Choose your booze with the same care and attention you give to your outfits, and in no time, you’ll be sipping in style.