Bubbly infusions, a gin and ginger twist, strawberry foam and a knock-out punch.
Inside or outside, there are many ways to enjoy nice weather. All of them involve a cold drink. Pick your spot, sit back and take a sip—Seattle’s most creative bartenders serve five original summer cocktails to put the chill on.
Summer is fresh herbs, summer is sparkling wine, summer is a good buzz. The Melrosé is all three. A collaborative cocktail by Terra Plata bartender Kevin Davis and chef and co-owner Tamara Murphy, it commingles influences from around North America. It’s a variation on a tequila-based Guadalajara Sour, with honey sweetness, bubbles (in the form of a sparking French rosé) and rosemary-infused tequila. The result is deliciously dry and crisp with notes of herbs, citrus and honey that effervesce teasingly under the nose.
“It’s kind of a dangerous drink,” Davis says.
A recent transplant from Virginia, Davis recalls summers spent working at the restaurant inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. At 5 o’clock, end of shift, the staff would head to the third floor balcony overlooking the sculpture garden and have a glass of sparkling rosé in the sun, he says. Bubbles to me are very reminiscent of summer.
Created by Kevin Davis
Philip Thompson is the sort of bartender who’ll improvise a cocktail depending on your mood, meal, date or outfit. At the Coterie Room in Belltown, he’s both an easygoing ear to bend and an exacting booze auteur.
“Technically, cachaça is rum because it’s made from cane sugar,” he says, “and it’s the national liquor of Brazil.” Surprisingly dry for a sugar-based spirit, cachaça is most frequently found in the caipirinha, a mojito-like cocktail once rare outside its homeland. In the Verão de Morango, Thompson pairs Cachaça with Spanish solera sherry, Spanish vanilla liqueur (the Spanish are expert warm-weather drinkers) and strawberry foam for a stiff, well-balanced drink equal parts pungent and sweet. As the foam settles, it colors the liquor a deep ruby-red; its flavor is barely discernable but its berry aroma is luscious. That, Thompson says, is the scent of summer.
The Verão de Morango
Created by Philip Thompson
1 1/2 oz. Novo Fogo Cachaça
1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/4 oz. Licor 43
6 drops Bob’s Ginger Bitters
Dollop strawberry foam
1 pint strawberries
1/16-1/4 cup of sugar depending on sweetness of berries
1 oz. lime juice
Simmer the berries, sugar and lime juice over low heat until they liquefy, add an egg white and mix with a hand blender until peaks form. Alternately, you can vacuum seal the foam ingredients and cook sous-vide at 185 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool and place liquid in ISI container and charge with two nitrous charges.
Stir ingredients and pour into a cocktail glass. Top with strawberry foam.
Montana, an unpretentious seven-month-old bar on Capitol Hill, is the only place in Seattle to get Rachel’s Ginger Beer on draft. That’s because co-owner Rachel Marshall, her partner Adam and her sister Abigail brew the stuff right next door. And when she’s not brewing, bottling or selling her delicious elixir at your local farmer’s market, Marshall is serving it in some of the city’s most satisfying, nigh-medicinal mixed drinks. This is the reason to go to Montana.
“The Southside is my ultimate summer cocktail,” Marshall says. “I could sit in the sun and drink these all day.”
No kidding. Classically served with gin, citrus, muddled mint and sugar, Marshall’s Southside recipe naturally involves her namesake beverage. The ginger beer lends it a healthy zest, while fresh mint marries gin’s cucumbery essence for a crisp, clean flavor. It’s a breeze to prepare and just as easy to drink. Summer’s long days and Montana’s pocket-sized front deck are a heavenly match—like gin and ginger beer. Says Marshall, “It’s just evocative of summer to me.”
The Montana Southside
Created by Rachel Marshall
In a pint glass, gently muddle the mint, bitters and simple syrup, just enough to release the mint’s fragrant oils. Add ice and gin, shake and strain into a fresh pint glass and top with RGB.
While teaching a class on mixology at Ballard community kitchen the Pantry at Delancey, Andrew Friedman whipped up a sweet, lemon-heavy vodka-based punch—perfect for a large group. The impromptu cocktail was such a hit that he brought it back to Liberty, the bar he co-owns on Capitol Hill, and named it after its birthplace.
At Liberty, Friedman serves the Pantry at Delancy two ways: “As a cocktail in an up glass or carbonated with the Perlini, this awesome technology that carbonates the liquid,” Friedman says. “It just depends on how people want it.”
Either way, the drink bursts with serious lemon flavor—bright, clean, kicky—and hides a minty high note. This comes from vodka infused with herbal tea blended by the experts at Remedy Tea, a couple of blocks down 15th Avenue. Peychaud’s Bitters keep sweetness in check and turn the concoction a pale, flowery pink.
“A good cocktail takes pronounced flavors and makes something new,” Friedman says. “The lemon and peppermint give this its own flavor and that’s why it works so well.”
The Pantry at Delancey
Created by Andrew Friedman
Steep tea in vodka for at least 30 minutes and for no longer than two hours. Strain into an attractive container—a decanter or punch bowl with ice—add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Chill and serve to a group in punch glasses.
Walrus and the Carpenter
The exceptional bartender respects an age-old tradition—and aches to improve it. Anna Wallace, a dedicated tequila drinker who presides over the marble bar at Ballard’s the Walrus and the Carpenter, knows there’s nothing wrong with a well-made margarita. But.
“This is me doing a twist on a classic to see if I can’t build a better margarita,” she says.
The Pacific Grove is her worthy attempt. Mixed with mellow, medium-bodied mescal and Wallace’sr homemade citrus lemongrass-oroblanco cordial—plus a dash of salt—it’s poured over crushed ice and garnished with a paper-thin slice of grapefruit. (“All tequila is mescal,” she explains, “but not all mescal is tequila.”) The flavor is bracingly crisp and less sweet than the lime juice-and-Cointreau standard. The color is honey golden, liquid sunshine. The name comes from one of John Steinbeck’s letters.
The Pacific Grove
Created by Anna Wallace
Shake and strain ingredients (including salt) into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a thinly sliced wheel of grapefruit.
For the Oroblanco Cordial
4 cups water
4 cups lemongrass
3 cups oroblanco juice
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
1 cup lime juice
1/4 cup citric acid
6 whole peppercorns
Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover and cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for 24 hours, strain and continue to chill for another 24 hours before use.
Photography by Nate Watters.