novel cocktails on summer menus
Wherever you currently swelter, lots and lots of ice are on tap at cocktail-focused bars and restaurants. Take the French Quarter’s Red Fish Grill in New Orleans for example; that offers up Crushed Cocktails, house-made slushees like the Coconut Press (Cruzan Silver Rum, coconut water and lime juice) and one that tweaks the classic Pimm’s Cup (Pimm’s #1, ginger beer, and lime juice topped with cucumber slush.
Frozen drinks are starting to get the attention they deserve, but it will be some time before they catch up with high-alcohol milkshakes – at Burger, Tap & Shake in Washington, DC, they’re called Shaketails – Apocalypto, made with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, homemade marshmallows and chocolate ice cream; or the espresso-flavored Evil Empire (Smirnoff Vanilla Bean Vodka, Red Wing Coffee Liqueur and vanilla ice cream); or the Stag Party (Jim Beam Red Stag Bourbon, Leopold’s Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur and vanilla ice cream).
Photo Courtesy of Burger, Tap & Shake
Also in DC, where the humidity is as clingy as the Bayou, Richard Sandoval’s Zengo offers three refreshing house-made lemonades, available with or without alcohol. Flavors include Strawberry Lemonade (fresh muddled strawberries, sour mix and simple syrup); Lemongrass-Ginger Limeade (lemongrass, lime, ginger, sour mix, grenadine and Sprite); and Lemon Balm Iced Tea, (lemon balm, lime, simple syrup, sour mix and iced tea). To enliven these ‘ades, options include Limonada de Fresca with Absolut Citron, strawberries and citrus and Lemongrass Gin, made with gin, lemongrass, ginger, sour mix, grenadine and Sprite.
DC-area bartenders have also reclaimed the Rickey as the locally-created drink of note, and since July is Rickey month, numerous hometown spots are featuring their own versions. Bourbon Steak’s Duane Sylvestre crafted Neve Joelle, which includes a strawberry and bay leaf soda fizz, Cointreau, lemon and egg whites to the basic concept.
Other spots are doing their bit: Acadiana’s Rickey's in the Rockies mixes small-batch Leopold’s Gin made in Colorado, Leopold Brother's Blackberry Whiskey, blackberry /rosemary shrub, lime juice and soda.While Ceiba is shaking up an island-inspired twist with the Tiki Ricardo – a concoction of Averal Damson Gin and Milagro Silver Tequila, lime juice, Tiki Bitters and tonic. DC Coast offers the Tricky Gin Rickey made with the lemon- and vanilla-tinged FEW Barrel-aged Gin, Scrappy’s Lime Bitters and lime juice with Fever Tree Tonic Water.
Photo Courtesy of Acadiana
Finally, in the incomplete review of DC Rickey twists, District Commons has the District Gin Rickey (locally-distilled Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin, lime juice, seltzer and lime wheel – the old fashioned way).
Summer also brings an abundance of tree fruit –peaches especially loved among bartenders. In Philadelphia, Jose Garces' Amada uses fresh peaches and lemongrass in a sangria, while at Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham, NC, charred peaches make a Julep variant something special.
Back to DC - the Mediterranean-themed Zaytinya welcomed summer with new cocktails created by ThinkFoodGroup barman Juan Coronado. The drinks include the Nesrin Daiquiri (white rum, pamplemousse liqueur, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and rose water); Athena's Punch (vodka, cucumber, dill syrup, lemon juice, and Cava); Turkish Storm (aged rum, lime juice, cardamom syrup, house-made ginger beer); 3PM in Istanbul (Belvedere lemon tea vodka, rhubarb liqueur, vanilla syrup, lime juice, and grapefruit juice); and the Harissa Fizz (silver tequila, house-made harissa, ginger liqueur, and house-made lemon soda); all made with long, slow drinking in mind.