This summer, bartenders are taking classic coolers -- fizzes, spritzers, punch -- and adding their own seasonal twists.
At Park Slope's Talde, bartender and co-owner John Bush's Blueberry Gin Fizz adds blueberry syrup and lime juice to the classic recipe. Baskets of fresh blueberries that Bush saw while out strolling inspired his version.
"Every bodega seemed to have them outside. They looked so good. Quite literally, I thought, 'ooh, blueberries,' and within a couple of days came up with the drink. We made the syrup here. The lime brings out a fuller flavor; the gin adds floral flavors. It's so summery."
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At Seersucker, whose very name oozes summer nostalgia, chef and owner Robert Newton created a tart, refined drink named for Alabama's first lady of letters -- the Harper Lee. The vibe might be Southern, but the ingredients are local: northeast rhubarb from the Carroll Street Farmers Market and Brooklyn Republic Vodka.
"We infuse the rhubarb and vodka for a minimum of three days," says Newton. "It takes on a pink hue that looks nice. The rhubarb syrup intensifies the flavor. The lemon juice keeps it crisp and light. Its dynamic and has all the bright, fresh flavors that you want in a summer cocktail."
Colonie bartender Aaron Gretzinger created the Cherry Oh Baby with a heavy dash of nostalgia.
"I grew up in Lower Manhattan, and I'd go to Dave's Luncheonette for a cherry lime rickey. I wanted to re-create that in a cocktail," says Gretzinger. He also includes his sister Nelle's handmade cola syrup, which he buys from the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain.
"It's a tropical drink. The cola syrup has so much flavor going on: There's lavender [and] ginger, there's zest. It's so refreshing, just like Dave's Luncheonette's cherry lime rickeys used to be."
Beauty & Essex's co-founder and beverage director Peter Kane created the Beauty Elixir as a spritzer with a kick: It mingles gin with cucumber, strawberry and sparkling rosé.
"I recently had the best baby strawberries of the season at a farmers market, and I had to create a cocktail around them," he says. "It's just a perfect, refreshing combination -- all of those things that you want when you have the salty taste of summer all around you."
11/2 oz. Oxley Gin
1/2 oz. strawberry puree
1/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. lemon simple syrup
1/4 oz. rose champagne
2 slices cucumber
Directions: Put cucumber in a cocktail shaker and crush with a muddling paddle. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the champagne. Shake well, strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Top off with champagne and garnish with cucumber.
Talde’s Blueberry Gin Fizz
3 ½ oz. gin
2 oz. blueberry syrup
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ egg white
Directions: Shake all ingredients. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Colonie’s Cherry Oh Baby
1½ oz. Appleton White Jamaican Rum
¾ oz. Heering Cherry Liqueur
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. Nelle’s organic cola syrup
Seltzer, adjust to taste
Directions: Put all ingredients except seltzer into a Collins glass, then top off with seltzer. Stir and float a lime wheel on top. Garnish with fresh cherries.
Seersucker’s Harper Lee
2 oz. rhubarb-infused vodka (recipe below)
¾ oz. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ oz. rhubarb syrup (recipe below)
Aleppo spice mix (recipe below)
Directions: Add ingredients except spice mix in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake well. Rim a chilled coupe glass with a wedge of lemon and press into Aleppo spice mix to coat. Strain cocktail into the spice-rimmed coupe glass. Allow small chips of ice to remain in the drink for a refreshing, summery feel.
Aleppo Spice Mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup kosher salt
¼ cup Aleppo
Mix all ingredients until completely blended.
2 cups rhubarb sliced thin
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients. Bring to a low boil. Simmer until all the sugar is absorbed. Strain, cool.
1 cup raw rhubarb, finely chopped
1 liter vodka
Add rhubarb and vodka to a sealable container. Keep chilled for 48 hours. Strain out rhubarb before use.