Forget ramps, heirloom tomatoes and even those funky morels — sourcing local ingredients for your seasonal menu now includes a common item found down at your local bodega. It’s Worcester’s own Polar seltzer, and it’s currently making a splash on the summer cocktail list over at Central Square’s Vialé.
Restaurant co-owner and beverage director Mark Young was inspired to create a bevy of fizzy new cocktails after perusing Polar’s summer lineup at the grocery store. “I’d known Polar’s popularity and its cult following, and I thought it’d be a fun thing to do,” he said. “We’re a serious restaurant that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously.”
And with Polar flavors such as Watermelon Margaritaand Raspberry Rosé, a cocktail venture was almost inevitable.
For his menu, Young conceptualized each drink to highlight the seltzer’s individual flavor while complimenting it at the same time. Raspberry Rosé became the base for a dry, citrusy rosé concoction that Young has dubbed Quinsigamond Sangria — with all the cocktail names leading back to Worcester.
“I googled a map of Worcester and just started poking around,” he said.
In Young’s hands, Polar Watermelon Margarita is the foundation for the dangerously drinkable Hopeville Margarita, with a touch of muddled cucumber. Other favorites include the Salisbury Spritz, a prosecco-driven drink with Aperol, blueberry-infused Cocchi Rosa and Polar Mango Berry Seltzer.
But this isn’t the first innovative offering from Vialé. Earlier this month, the restaurant launched its first “Get Down” — a pop-up series that kicked off with a menu of avant-garde lobster dishes in partnership with local gems Snappy Lobster and Castle Island Brewing Co. Chef Greg Reeves is already plotting the next event, tentatively slated for mid-summer.
Until then, Young will roll out his seltzer cocktails one at a time beginning June 1, starting with the Green Hill Collins featuring Polar’s Strawberry Sunrise Seltzer.
If you go:
Vialé, 502 Massachusetts Ave., $11, vialecambridge.com