Warm weather brings all sorts of chef favorites, like ramps and fiddlehead ferns, but seasonality doesn’t have to stay in the kitchen. For barkeeps, the arrival of spring and summer means a chance to revamp cocktail menus, embracing all sorts of lighter flavors from fruits to herbs, and liquors that have more to do with swaying palm trees than crackling fireplaces.
When it comes to cocktails, it’s hard to play favorites, season-wise, but according to bar menus around town, we're in the middle of prime drinking season. Here’s a look at a few early summer standouts.
Vernick’s newly introduced seasonal cocktails forgo fancy names in favor of their primary ingredients. The Lavender (pictured above) is a floral take on a flip with gin, Chartreuse and an egg white. Shaken with lavender syrup and finished with a dusting of the dried flower, the cocktail is shaken until frothy and poured into a coupe.
Oyster House has one of the best selections of gin in the city, so it's no surprise that the juniper-forward spirit surfaced in a tropical pour for the season. Beverage manager Dan Eng began with the classic recipe for a Singapore Sling and made a few adjustments to perfect his version, namely swapping out Cointreau for falernum and subbing Old Tom for regular gin. Garnished with fresh mint, an orange wedge and a brandied cherry, this one falls firmly in the summertime drinking danger zone, in a very good way.
It's rare for a high-end tipple to evoke childhood memories of ice cream bars, but the Quiet Lion is a welcome exception. Combining gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, Combier (an orange liqueur) and a housemade vanilla tincture, it drinks like a grown-up version of a Creamsicle.
When the temperatures started rising, head bartender Keith Raimondi was in the market for a green drink. What he came up with is a bracingly fresh, vivid cocktail that combines parsley syrup, fresh celery and lemon juice with gin. And just like any skilled chef would finish a salad, he completes it with a dash of salt, a grind of cracked pepper and a few drops of warmly spiced Moroccan bitters.
In keeping with its French roots, this neighborhood spot always has a sparkling wine cocktail on the menu. For the summer season it's swapped out the French 75 in favor of an Old Cuban, a drink that takes the holy trinity of mojito ingredients (mint, lime and rum) and tops them with a float of bubbly.