With the crazy amount of musical geniuses passing away in the past couple of years, the past few months especially, it makes sense to pay homage to their legacy with anything we see fit. Here in the South, that means drinks, so it should come as no surprise that one of the best cocktail bars in the city, Olive or Twist, has a drink named after the King of Pop himself.

Disregarding the disturbing allegations near the end of his life, Michael Jackson’s legacy as a musician and performer is so well regarded that he has very, very few peers in that stratosphere. Crazy-big hits like “Beat It,” “Man in the Mirror” or the timeless classic “Thriller” defined his career.

The Smooth Criminal cocktail is a tribute to his talent, and while the drink itself may not moonwalk, it certainly excels among its competition (and may make you feel like moonwalking).

This Olive or Twist original is made of Glenfiddich 12, Irish whiskey, sweet vermouth, saffron-black pepper syrup and orange bitters.

Served in a classic Coupe cocktail glass, this funky concoction is based on the bite of Glenfiddich 12, a single malt scotch whisky that sells like hotcakes at bars across the globe. It’s a fixture at every pub, so crafting a cocktail with this foundation means they know what they’re doing. Sweet vermouth, an aromatized wine, is a classic cocktail additive that slyly offsets the harsher flavors that come with scotch. The saffron black-pepper syrup brings us back to the stronger end of the spectrum while orange bitters gently pull the cocktail into a more user-friendly range. It’s a constant struggle between smooth and rough. Some sips feel like it draws like a pencil, other times it goes down like a shot of Diesel (the booze, not the gasoline).

Whatever you may feel for the Jackson 5 alum, the cocktail in his honor is likely to have a similar impact on you. Polarizing, formidable and messianic to a select few, the Smooth Criminal has the smooth swagger of Michael and the bite of the criminal.

 

Taste: 4/5

Texture: 3/5

Presentation: 4/5

Originality: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

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