It’s the final hurrah of summer, and bartenders are saving their best for last. Lavender-infused Negronis, arugula syrups, a rum drink inspired by country singer June Carter Cash—it’s just the tip of the hand-chiseled iceberg this August. These are the 10 cocktails you need to drink in bars this month.
Can't sneak out to any of the bars serving these great drinks in August? Try making El Volcan from this list at home.
Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio’s waterfront restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary with a festive Sunday brunch on its bayside deck, complete with new dishes and drinks. El Volcán showcases one of Peru’s most ubiquitous peppers, the ají amarillo, infused in gin and joined by mezcal, Aperol and the sour-tart balance of lime and agave.
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Mr. Lee’s is a Louisville rarity—a Tokyo-style bar with wood paneling and midcentury decor. House cocktails are central, starting with an amuse drink while you peruse the menu of thoughtful drinks. The Roubic’s Cube is a bottled, carbonated standout, a rotating Negroni that recently featured lavender-infused gin, toasted pink and black peppercorns steeped in Campari, and strawberries in Lillet blanc. The result is a floral, bitter, sweet and peppery beauty that evokes a lavender field.
A slice of Rhode Island in Los Angeles, Connie and Ted’s turns five years old this year, remaining an L.A. seafood favorite. Beverage director Hoang Nguyen takes inspiration from classics and the sea in drinks like the By Land or Sea. Playing off the salinity of Edinburgh Seaside gin with its unusual Scottish botanicals (ground ivy, bladderwrack and scurvygrass), Nguyen imparts bitter-sweet notes with Caperitif vermouth and tart-herbal balance from grapefruit juice and thyme.
The antithesis to the breezy fun of Tex-Mex bar/café Lonesome Rose upstairs, Golden Teardrops (named for a 1953 doo-wop song by The Flamingos) is dark and subterranean. Drinks are straightforward, classic, stiff, mostly three to four ingredients and listed on a letter board illuminated by the backbar’s neon white “Weddings & Funerals” sign. The Hot Flashes recalls a Boulevardier with cognac, rye whiskey, Campari and sweet vermouth, alternately bracing and bitter yet smooth.
Housed in a 1776 carriage house, Sylvain serves elevated Southern comfort food such as of farro- and squash-stuffed banana peppers, Louisiana shrimp and Little Neck clams in tomato-basil brodo. It also boasts the dream bar snack: Champagne and fries. An ideal late-night sipper, the Coffee & Cigarettes goes bracing and bold with Park VS cognac and Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth amaro, given smoky-alpine notes from Cappelletti amaro sfumato rabarbaro and herbal, bittersweet coffee accents from Kansas City’s J. Rieger caffé amaro.
Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt, Washington, D.C., hotel serves seasonal menus from chef Troy Knapp. Lead bartender Cole Burger likewise gives his drinks a seasonal bent, adhering to house culinary practices like not heating any infusions and hard juicing. That Green Thing goes for a summery feel with bay-leaf-infused Armagnac, Green Chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, arugula syrup, lime juice and salt solution, garnished with a kiwi grape.
Modern French restaurant Nico moved to Jackson Square this spring, nodding to the space’s storied history as a beat poet/bohemian/gay hangout, The Black Cat. Danielle Peters consulted on the cocktail menu with Simone Mims running the bar. While filling up on silky oysters in tarragon oil or an open-faced croque monsieur slathered in pork belly and Beaufort gruyère cheese, sip an elegant Le Chat Noir, which combines Bloom gin, Calvados and génépy with apricot jam, tarragon and Ms. Better’s Miraculous Foamer an egg white substitute, made soft black with activated charcoal.
After dining downstairs at Butchertown Grocery on chef and owner Bobby Benjamin’s inspired comfort food, head upstairs to Lola with its wraparound bar, banquettes and couches. Beverage director Nic Christiansen crafts balanced cocktails like the Colors in Space. The Martini-esque beauty is all about a combination of Cimarrón blanco tequila with Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal, illuminated with simple syrup, wormwood and lush drops of lemon oil.
Nashville’s pioneering restaurant The 404 Kitchen moved to new digs late last year, housing the relaxed Gertie’s bar downstairs and a more refined dining room upstairs. Both levels serve drinks created by S.F./N.Y. consultant Christina Cabrera around a fun film- and music-centric menu inspired by movies filmed in Nashville: “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Matrix” and “Walk the Line.” The My Darling June tributes June Carter Cash in a summery blend of Havana Club añejo rum and Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum, made lively with The Bitter Truth falernum, passion fruit and fresh shaved nutmeg on top.
Portland’s off-the-beaten-path Bible Club is a speakeasy for those burned out on speakeasies. Hidden inside a 1922 Craftsman house on a residential street, it feels like stepping back in time. It helps that everything from the bar equipment to the furniture pre-dates 1930. The bar thankfully lacks pretension and passwords. The We’ll Always Have Paris plays off a classic Frappé with its Maison Rouge cognac base, combined with St-Germain, orgeat and vanilla bitters. The drink gains creamy froth from the orgeat and egg white, while a North African spice blend and dried flowers give it depth and nuance.
Mixing your cocktail