For those who can’t swing a tropical getaway this winter, at least there’s always a tropical drink. Right now, pineapples are at their peak, and bartenders are showcasing the fruit in innovative ways, from making “grilled pineapple juice” and pineapple shrubs to using the hollowed-out fruit as a bong to create a smoky drink.
29 Palms (Ada Street, Chicago)
Ada Street beverage manager Scott Koehl makes this bottled cocktail with house-made pineapple-infused mezcal, Green Chartreuse, fresh lime and a house-made lemongrass/cinchona tonic.
Ambrosia Drunk (Bacchus Bar, Portland, Ore.)
For this gently effervescent drink, Bacchus bartender Andrew Call first brews up a lime-leaf–pineapple simple syrup, which is mixed with grapefruit and lime juices and gin, plus a bubbly prosecco float. The cocktail is finished with grapefruit and Angostura bitters and garnished with a lemon rose and lime leaf.
East Brooklyn (Cassia, Santa Monica, Calif.)
At the newly opened Southeast Asian brasserie Cassia, the drinks are intended to align with chef Bryant Ng’s cooking. So this riff on the classic Brooklyn cocktail includes lemongrass- and pineapple-infused dry vermouth, along with rye whiskey, maraschino liqueur and CioCiaro amaro.
Golden Pearl (Saltaire, Port Chester, N.Y.)
For this elegant sipper, chunks of pineapple are grilled and juiced for caramelized sweetness. That “grilled pineapple juice” is then mixed with aged rum and vanilla bean.
Piña (Kat & Theo, New York City)
Proof that pineapple drinks don’t have to be super sweet, this complex, smoky-bitter beauty starts with High West Campfire (a blend of rye, scotch and bourbon) and Amargo-Vallet. A house-made piña tea syrup, made by infusing a hibiscus, coconut and pineapple tea blend with simple syrup, adds mellow caramel and pineapple undertones. The finishing touch: a round of dried pineapple to garnish.
Korean BBQ (Three Degrees, Portland, Ore.)
A spicy, smoky and savory flavor bomb, this cocktail from bartender Joe Davis starts with a rinse of super peaty Laphroaig scotch, followed by Appleton X/V rum, a fresh pineapple and Korean chile sauce reduction, lime juice and cinnamon syrup. As if that’s not enough, a dash of bacon salt adds still more umami goodness.
Pineapple Bump (Andiron Steak & Sea, Las Vegas)
Leave it to Vegas to offer the splashiest cocktail vessels around: copper pineapple cups custom-made by Absolut Elyx. In them you’ll find Elyx vodka, Pineau de Charentes, pineapple juice, Pok Pok Som apple vinegar, lemon sour and Fever-Tree club soda.
SpongeBob SquarePants (Gracias Madre, San Francisco)
This dramatic drink uses all of the pineapple. It starts with a house-made quince tepache (a traditional drink from Mexico made from fermented pineapple rind and peel) plus mezcal espadín. Then the drink is smoked in a whole pineapple with organic apple wood and served in the hollowed-out fruit.
The Algonquin (Rose Cafe, Venice, Calif.)
Rose Cafe beverage director Nick Meyer uses pineapple multiple ways in this cocktail. A pineapple shrub with Champagne vinegar adds acidity, while a caramelized pineapple gomme syrup with vanilla and cinnamon adds sweetness and spice. Those ingredients are mixed with freshly juiced pineapple, dry vermouth and rye whiskey. And finally, a super thin slice of pineapple is dehydrated into pineapple chips. “It’s a garnish, as well as something to snack on throughout drinking,” says Meyer.
Tommy Gun (GreenRiver, Chicago)
At buzzy Chi-town newcomer GreenRiver, head bartender Julia Momose gives pineapple the sous vide treatment to create pineapple pisco, which is then mixed with lime juice and a spiced garam masala syrup for a sweet and savory profile.
Ultimate Piña Colada (Trick Dog, San Francisco)
Trick Dog co-founder Scott Baird makes this blender drink with three types of rum, absinthe, green tea cardamom syrup, pineapple and lime juices, coconut crème and just a pinch of salt and serves it up in a cored-out pineapple. It is not on the menu but is available by special request.