As usual, the Pacific Northwest keeps its cocktails fresh by going for seasonality. At various Anthony’s Restaurants locations in the Seattle area, rhubarb cocktails are in season: Rhubarb Strawberry Lemonade includes homemade lemonade splashed with rhubarb-strawberry sauce and vodka, the Rhuby Drop is a Lemon Drop garnished with a fresh sugared rhubarb stick and lemon slice, the Rhubarb Rum Punch is a blend of light and dark rum with orange Curaçao, orange juice, rhubarb and strawberry, and there’s also a fresh rhubarb-strawberry Margarita. The spring cocktails at Trellis at The Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Wash., include Arsenic and Old Lace (Voyager Gin, crème de violette liqueur, dry vermouth and Absente) and the Yacht Club (10 Cane rum, apricot liqueur, dry vermouth and house-made bitters). And Terra Vista in Snoqualmie, Wash., introduced its Mandarin-Basil Martini (infused mandarin orange vodka, a sphere of basil ice, sparkling wine and a house-made ginger candy swizzle stick).
To reward nine-to-fivers, ArtBar at Art and Soul Restaurant in Washington, D.C., launched The 5:01 Session. Complete with a new small bites menu, The 5:01 Session features specially crafted cocktails, regional beers on tap and esoteric wines at reduced prices from 4 - 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. To gear up for the launch of the The 5:01 Session happy hour, general manager and beverage director Jay Poblador revamped ArtBar’s cocktail program creating items at the bar, like candied ginger and seasonally flavored simple syrups using specific ingredients from the Art and Soul kitchen. Specialty cocktails include the Put Ups Martini with pickled onion, okra, beets and quail egg; the Ginger Smash with tequila, ginger liquor, lime, lemon grass and candied ginger; and The Bartlett with cachaca, pear puree and lime.
In New York, Naren Young recently took over the bar program at busy Italian bar and restaurant Locanda Verde, working through the winter to develop a spring cocktail menu that features recipes for a custom-made soda program. His plan: to offer a different, fresh-flavored sparkling lemonade every day, with such variants as thyme-raspberry, pomegranate-basil and tarragon-celery. Young views this as something “different and fun” that he hasn’t “seen anyone else doing in the city.” He explains, “ We can serve a lot of people and when the volume hits, we can still serve something unique and freshly made in house.”
Last week, Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco served a rare specialty: vintage exotic cocktails presented in fresh pineapples. Martin Cate offered a special menu of rare recipes featuring fresh pineapple juice, exotic liqueurs and premium rums and served them in hollowed-out pineapples. This is obviously an expensive and limited service treat, but one worth mentioning.