Full steam ahead with summer! When it comes to choosing a cocktail this month, bargoers are mostly looking for one thing: to cool off. Whether it’s a Tiki drink with Chinese inspiration or an Italian-inflected Daiquiri, there’s plenty to surprise and refresh the palate this July. From Tulsa to Vancouver, these are the bars and restaurants serving the 11 cocktails to drink right now.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great July drinks? Try making the Early Start from this list at home.
Dante is located in a more than 100-year-old space and feels plucked from an Italian village and dropped in NYC’s Greenwich Village, with checkered floors, a tin ceiling and sidewalk seating. Drink veteran Naren Young specializes in elegant aperitivos, Negroni variations and Spritzes that celebrate the seasons.
A Stroll in the Orchard is made with fresh white peach purée, peach liqueur, Bitter Truth peach bitters and apricot eau-de-vie. The stone fruit sweetness is balanced by bitter-sweet Suze, lemon, a house nectarine shrub and saline solution, plus floral effervescence from a splash of sparkling Moscato d’Asti wine. Served in a wine goblet and garnished with fresh peach wedges, it’s summer in a glass.
Straight off her James Beard Award win for Best Chef: Great Lakes, Sarah Grueneberg handcrafts some of the best pasta in the country (like tortelli verdi filled with spinach and Parmesan in roasted white miso, lemon and hazelnuts), while also showcasing her Germanic heritage in creative dishes like skate wing schnitzel.
Alongside the predominantly Italian wine list, beverage manager/sommelier Hannah Grossman and bar manager Justin Kaderabek ensure the cocktails sing with the food. An Alpine Daiquiri is the best of rum (El Dorado 5-year-old cask-aged, in this case) and the Italian Alps (Braulio amaro) combined, with a backbone of fresh lime and Rare Tea Cellar pu-erh tea syrup. Take a sip, and you can almost feel alpine and island breezes simultaneously.
From Oklahoma City’s popular A Good Egg Dining Group, Barrios delivers quality ingredient-driven Mexican cuisine—think house-made mole and barbacoa alongside the typical Tex-Mex most common in Oklahoma from neighboring Texas. While some dishes work better than others, the cocktails, from Good Egg’s bar and beverage director Jason Ewald, shine across the board. The Frozen Avocado cocktail is rightfully popular, but we’d dub the Guava-Habanero the sleeper hit. Habanero-infused Tapatio reposado tequila is just a touch of spicy, softened (but not too sweet) with guava purée and a boozy, fluffy foam.
Rich Table remains one of San Francisco’s best restaurants, with now-legendary bites like sardine chips and dried porcini doughnuts. Bar manager Tommy Quimby keeps pace with memorable drinks. (Just try to resist the Scotch & Thunder, made with scotch, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, smoked pineapple and lemon.)
Fresh off the heels of Negroni Week, Quimby crafted a standout Negroni variation named haru (“spring” in Japanese). Playing off the juniper-citrus-spice notes of Spring 44 Old Tom gin, he infuses the gin with Douglas fir, umeboshi (Japanese salt plum) and shiso, rounded out by Campari and Dolin blanc vermouth. It’s a Negroni that unfolds with piney, minty, salty goodness.
A playful, multi-level space in a former mortuary, Linger is one of Denver’s most fun places to have dinner. Paired with small plates, drinks are quaffable yet thoughtful. Created by bar manager Ky Belk and bartender Jeff Wilkins, the Weary Traveler is anything but tired. The vibrantly colored drink features mezcal, basil-infused Campari, gin and a Denver local, Leopold Bros. blackberry liqueur, balanced by lemon and simple syrup. You get a little smoke from the mezcal, but a touch of bitter, basil herbaceousness and floral-citrus goodness weave together in one bold, rosy whole.
Behind an unmarked door next to a neon tarot card window sign, The Roger Room feels worlds away from the busy L.A. streets outside. Bar manager Bruce Hood crafted the summer menu with bartenders Anthony Ristow and Damian Windsor, showing off seasonal produce and herbs from local farms. Hood’s Cóctel Alternativa combines a balanced blend of Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Combier Liqueur de Rose and Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aéro d’Or apéritif, vivid with mezcal smoke, floral rose petals, dried tropical fruit and a touch of bitter, seasoned with dashes of pink peppercorn bitters.
In Tulsa’s thriving Brady Arts District, Saturn Room just celebrated its second anniversary in April with a rousing party of regulars sharing Singapore Sling bowls and proper Tiki cocktails a la the original Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber era. From bartender Noah Bush of sister bar Hodges Bend comes the Chairman Mao’s Revival, a savory-sweet-complex cocktail, served in a Mao Tiki mug, of course. It’s a mix of Szechuan-peppercorn-infused gin, coffee and The King’s Ginger liqueurs, black strap rum, falernum, lime, lemon, grapefruit, a touch of absinthe and Angostura bitters.
With a tagline of “sinful cocktails and cuisine,” Péché is Austin’s first absinthe bar, a place for pre-Prohibition-era cocktails and chef John Lichtenberger’s French bistro fare. Bar manager Shaun Meglen plays with the classic and the French, accented with a Texas touch. Case in point: the Toki Doki, a cocktail named after Suntory Toki, Japanese whisky, the base of the
But instead of a classic Highball, they created a green tea honey balanced by lemon juice and topped with the Texas’ favorite (from Mexico) Topo Chico instead of regular soda water, giving it an extra-strong mineral kick.
Under a separate green-lighted entrance at Vancouver’s elegant Hotel Georgia, Prohibition is a spacious, subterranean bar nodding to (what else?) Prohibition. With a strong Champagne selection and absinthe fountain service, head bartenders Brad Stanton and Robyn Gray craft an array of cocktails that deserve your drinking attention. The Inception Negroni is a house signature using Suze instead of Campari, Broker’s London dry gin and Martini bianco vermouth. It arrives glowing with a Negroni ice sphere that slowly unleashes the drink’s bitter, sweet, aromatic layers.
Alembic has been an S.F. cocktail institution for just over a decade. Now, new head barman Hector Valencia (who has worked at the bar for more than three years) has a good time with his initial menu, playing with smoked applewood chips and Oakland Spirits Sea gin in his 50/50 Smoked Martini. His Rabbit in Your Headlights is a rye whiskey cocktail (a mix of Rittenhouse and High West Double Rye) that also tastes like summer, lively with carrot juice, spicy-fresh ginger juice, saline solution, lime and a bracing yet approachable amaro bitter from Amaro CioCiaro.
New from Houston industry vets chef Justin Yu (Oxheart), Bobby Heugel (Anvil Bar & Refuge) and partner Steve Flippo, Better Luck Tomorrow sports a quirky, uniquely shaped, neon-lit back bar, two large outdoor patios and a playful spirit from the award-winning chef and barman. Anvil bartender Alex Negranza is the bar manager, and cocktails are food-friendly and culinary-focused, featuring ingredients grown in the Gulf Coast region. Paired with an irresistible Party Melt (caramelized thin beef patties, crispy cheese, caramelized onions), Negranza’s Early Start cocktail pulls from the already-savory green caraway and dill notes of aquavit, accenting them with sorrel, lime, orgeat and egg white for a frothy finish.
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