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.
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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