Features SUMMER DRINKS 2009
June 2009

With summer just around the corner, refreshing, creative cocktails are essential offerings for sultry, outdoor dining and cool, air conditioned bars. Take some cues from these mixologists’ warm weather concoctions, and incorporate herb-infused spirits, savory spices and fresh fruit into this summer’s cocktail menu. After all, as many restaurants are finding out, in these rough economic waters, it may be the bar revenue that keeps the ship afloat.

Kaffir Collins
Mixologist Eben Freeman of Tailor – New York, NY
One of summer’s most refreshing drinks gets a new, greener look with the addition of lime juice and kaffir lime leaf. While a classic Tom Collins contains gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling water, this redux muddles the sugar and lemon with kaffir lime to release aromatic oils and form a tangy, herbaceous base for the gin, lime juice and soda water.
Pair with: Southeast Asian-inspired dishes, like Mussels in Thai Broth, Hamachi with Spicy Grapefruit or Duck Salad with Mint and Rau Ram

Masala Mai Tai
Mixologist Eben Freeman of Tailor – New York, NY
This tropical concoction goes bravely where no Mai Tai has gone before—into savory territory, thanks to the added component of Indian spices. Fresh curry leaves (commonly used in Indian braises, sauces and stews) add subtle flavor to this drink, while the spices lend an air of seriousness. Also crushed ice makes this Mai Tai a grown-up version of a summer slushie.
Pair with: Indian dishes, like Tandoori Prawns or Coconut Lobster Curry.

Fig Cocktail
Mixologist Chris Tunstall of the girl & the fig – Sonoma, CA
Although the dried figs and blueberries used in this fruit-forward cocktail make seasonality irrelevant, summer is when this drink really shines—especially if you substitute fresh fruit for the dried. House-infused blueberry vodka and fig liqueur join ginger syrup, and fresh-squeezed orange and lime juices to make a refreshing and layered concoction. The cocktail is finished with a sprig of rosemary (with rosemary flowers, if possible) to bring out the ginger. 
Pair with: Sweet or savory dishes with rosemary and/or figs, like Lamb Kebabs on Rosemary Skewers or Pork Tenderloin Sandwich with Fig and Onion Jam

El Niño
Mixologist Mike Yen of Nine-Ten – San Diego, CA
The Hurricane (typically OJ, passion fruit, blackberry brandy and rum) goes south of the border, trading rum for tequila and dressing up with a float of Champagne. Blackberry-infused brandy makes for a dark, fruity base, while a scatter of blackberry seeds tops off the cocktail (tip: freezing the blackberry makes it easier to pull apart).
Pair with: Mexican dishes, like Spicy Jicama Salad with Tangerines and Fresh Coriander, Corn Tamales or Grilled Quail in Red Onion Escabeche

Mixologist Somer Perez of Couture Cocktail Concept – New York, NY
You can’t go wrong with bourbon and barbecue, and if you’re looking for a cocktail to complement smoked and spiced meat (and don’t want to settle for the standard Mint Julep), the bourbon-based Well-Tailored fits the bill. Canton Ginger Liqueur and fresh ginger shavings add spice to match the meat’s heat, while the drink’s citrus juices make for a refreshing sip after biting into rich barbecued pork.
Pair with: Southern-style grilled or smoked meats, like Apple City BBQ World Champion Ribs, Memphis-Style Ribs or Applewood Smoked Bacon.

Podensac Smash
Mixologist Keith Waldbauer of Barrio – Seattle, WA
Normally a splash of Lillet acts as a lovely, citrusy complement to a cocktail or Champagne, but in this concoction, it’s the star of the show. The mixture of wine and orange liqueurs (made in Podensac, France—hence the cocktail’s name) is simply shaken with lemon, peach bitters and mint, making for a refreshing aperitif or friendly pairing with light summer dishes. 
Pair with: Summery dishes with citrus and herbs, like Lemon and Mint Grilled Trout or Cucumber-Horseradish Soup with Mint Sorbet.

[in lieu of] PASTIS
Pastis Fraiche
Mixologist Eben Freeman of Tailor – New York, NY
Pastis gained popularity after absinthe was banned in the early 1900s. Since then a glass of the anise-flavored spirit (with water and ice) has become a classic French antidote to the summer heat. This riff on the French refresher—a cocktail with a vodka and absinthe base—has the appeal of a composed drink and the satisfaction of an aperitif.
Pair with: Provençal-inspired dishes, like Barramundi with Artichoke-Potato-Basil Nage or Grilled Lamb Chops with Sorrel Butter.