Beverage director Taha Ismail wanted to do a seasonal riff on a Pisco Sour that was clean and refreshing. Fresh mandarin and yuzu juices make for a citrus-y cordial that offsets Strega’s piney profile, while Peychaud’s bitters meld nicely with the pisco’s floral notes. “This drink has enough complexity without being overwhelming and [is] very consumable on any patio,” he says.
This cocktail at Las Vegas’ Lago by Julian Serrano, created by Ricardo Murcia, who’s now the beverage director at MGM National Harbor, represents elements found at the Bellagio hotel. The froth represents the lake in front of the hotel, the caramel nest is an homage to the fountains timed to the music, and the golden raspberry is a nod to the dome on top of the building. The overall effect is sweet, tart and frothy.
When SoBou’s executive chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez was ordering cases of perfectly in-season satsuma, a Chinese seedless and easy-peeling orange, bar chef Laura Bellucci felt she had to do a cocktail using the sweet fruit. “I really like working with Amaro Montenegro and wanted to create something really floral and delicate to go with the citrus juice.”
“I enjoy using grapefruit in a shrub because it allows the brightness and flavor of the grapefruit to come through and cuts down on the typical tartness of the grapefruit,” says Nic Christiansen, the beverage director at Lola. “Allowing the acid from the apple cider vinegar and the sugar to lift the grapefruit flavor [creates] a more complex grapefruit flavor.” Locally produced Copper & Kings Absinthe Superior lends the sip classic anise flavor, as well as forward floral and citrus notes.
Washington, D.C. French restaurant Mirabelle's take on the classic French 75 uses a namesake brandy from France, made from delicate mirabelle plums, as well as locally made vodka. “The fresh lemon juice adds brightness and acidity, while the simple syrup rounds out the drink, without making it cloying,” says Zach Faden of his cocktail. “The Mirabelle brut rosé provides refreshing levity and effervescence.”
“Sweet, herbaceous and acidic all at once, this is a great pre-dinner cocktail before a nice glass of white wine,” says 312 Chicago head bartender Jenn Knott of her cocktail. She experimented with using a syrup instead of a shrub, but the latter ended up keeping the drink more fresh and tart. White balsamic vinegar, made in Italy from the trebbiano grape, is mixed with white wine vinegar and cooked at a low temperature to retain its clearish color.
For this cocktail at Portland Ore.’s Bacchus Bar, Andrew Call pours local Aviation American gin because its complex, herbaceous flavor plays off the tart lime and grapefruit. “Adding some house-made pineapple simple syrup gives it a welcome hint of a day on the beach,” says Call. “[And] topping it off with dry sparkling wine and Peychaud’s bitters makes all the flavors come together and light up your tongue.”
This red-tinged cocktail by Erick Castro at San Diego’s Polite Provisions gets its heady fragrance from syrup steeped with rose petals, while Aperol lends bittersweet pink grapefruit and orange notes. “The scent of flowers in bloom is such a visceral experience that is so difficult to capture in a drink,” says Castro. “Having tried rose petals in tea, I was confident that it would lend itself to the steeping process well.”
Different single malts mingle in this spirit-forward cocktail. It’s a wonder that the peaty flavor still shines through all the other tasty elements.