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Sweetwater Bar and Grill's taps don't pour beer

The water is sweet at this Boynton Beach cocktail joint, in the sense that it's coffee-flavored tequila cut with brown sugar and slightly carbonated from the tap that pours it. Alternatively, the water is a whiskey drink smoked behind the bar with a selection of flavored wood chips.

Clint Reed, owner of Sweetwater Bar and Grill, 1507 S. Federal Highway, says the bar first tried out its cocktail tap in late May. The tester liqueur is Ink, the bar's house-made version of Patron XO Cafe: Various types of espresso beans rest in Espolon tequila, which then passes through a cheese cloth and simmers with that brown sugar I mentioned.

Sean Iglehart, the main man behind the bar, has been making Ink for about a year, Reed says. Now that the tap system is set up with the coffee infusion, the owner says they plan to add more.

"Ink has been on tap on and off as much as we can keep up with it [5 gallons at a time]," Reed says. "Depending on whther the system is nitro or carbon dioxide, we're going to start getting into house-made vermouth on tap. We could do negronis on tap... it could be limitless."

To get the liquid flowing from the spouts, the push from CO2 is needed. That adds the slight carbonation in Ink. But something like wine couldn't be passed through that system because it would oxidate -- the "O2" part is oxygen, remember? -- so nitrogen tap systems, whose bubbles are smaller, are an alternative for pouring sensitive drinks.

For experienced whiskey drinkers, Reed and Iglehart introduced Sweetwater's cocktail smoker around the same time as the tap.

"In the vein of continuing to push the envelope, for someone who's tried our entire menu of cocktails and gone through our whiskey menu, we'll pull that out when we know we have a very experienced whiskey drinker," Reed says. "[The wood] adds a very distinct flavor to any whiskey drink, like a smoked-bacon bourbon old fashioned."

Forget drinking your way through the extensive whiskey menu to try this contraption. Hickory-smoked bourbon is a Boynton Beach wonder anyone with a palate should try.

Reed says he thinks some bars get "gimmicky" with liquid-nitrogen drinks -- those foggy slushies that are fun to watch a bartender make -- so his cocktail smoker isn't advertised on the menu. But go ahead, ask for it at the bar. Have them smoke you something using the bar's own line of Angel's Envy bourbon, bottled exclusively for Sweetwater.

Read more about Sweetwater's spirit experiments, including exclusive bottles from big American liquor brands, in an upcoming story in the Lush Life.

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