Sippers for summer

Local eateries talk trends and recipes for summer cocktails.

Posted by Meaghan Habuda on Wed, May 21, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Oh, summer.

A time when all landlubbers want to do is find a little expanse of water to cool off in, cocktail in hand, if only for a moment. These drinks, however, can’t just have any ol’ simple syrup or fruit muddled into a glass.

According to Dean Hurst, director of spirits for Bern’s Steak House, SideBern’s and the Epicurean Hotel, a couple of trends his teams are integrating into their summer cocktails, which are in the works, include “getting funky” with sodas and steering away from vodkas and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, which jumped from $1.9 million in sales in 2011 to $61 million last year.

Hurst talked about creating citrus cordials, too. He said a grapefruit cordial, with the fruit’s zest incorporated, allows imbibers to be dynamic when drink-making without the use of lemon or lime juice.

Bartender Justin Gray, of Anise Global Gastrobar, said his restaurant is adding new seasonal cocktail offerings to its existing drink menu as well.

During the warm days of summer, Gray said citrus is always in.

He described lighter flavors like lime, watermelon and fresh cilantro, calling them refreshing and perfect for merriment outdoors. And, of course, he said tropical flavors, such as pineapple and mango, are forever associated with the season. They evoke beachy and relaxing vibes that sippers look for.

Gray added that low-alcohol cocktails let people enjoy two or three in the sun without “feeling like they were hit by a bus.”

There will forever be a market for mojitos and caipirinhas (Brazilian cocktails) in summer, according to Carolyn Tsourakis, Bella Brava's general manager. However, she said that Bella Brava's seen success with fruit variations of pisco sours.

Tsourakis has noticed darker liquors, like scotch and whiskey, making a comeback, and called cream soda "the new ginger beer."

Check out these season-inspired cocktails birthed by three Bay area eateries. The drinks will be concocted behind each restaurant's bar throughout summer.

Strawberry Clover Club - DEAN HURST
  • Dean Hurst
  • Strawberry Clover Club
Strawberry Clover Club

11/2 ounces Nolet’s Gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce strawberry syrup
1 egg white

Combine ingredients and shake without ice. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a large coupe.

*The strawberry syrup is made from equal parts fresh puréed strawberries and simple syrup (1:1).

The Market Collins - JUSTIN GRAY
  • Justin Gray
  • The Market Collins
The Market Collins
Anise Global Gastrobar

2 ounces vodka
2 ounces fresh watermelon purée
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce Thai chili syrup
Fresh cilantro

Combine ingredients and shake. To minimize the amount of pulp, double-strain over ice into a Collins glass. Garnish with a watermelon slice and cilantro.

The Porch Swing - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • The Porch Swing
The Porch Swing
Bella Brava

1 1/2 ounces Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey
2 drops barrel-aged bitters
1 ounce Earl Grey syrup
1 12-ounce bottle of Virgil's cream soda, to top
1 lemon, sliced

Combine the whiskey, bitters and syrup, and then stir with ice. Top with cream soda. (Re-mix in another glass if desired.) Add two slices of lemon and stir.

*The Earl Grey syrup is made from equal parts Earl Grey tea and sugar (1:1).

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