It's a hot time for cool drinks.
On Long Island, the summer '13 cocktail is shaking and stirring from Freeport to Montauk.
"We try to do different things," said Philippe Corbet, executive chef of Roots Bistro Gourmand in West Islip, including making vermouth, a "salty watermelon" drink, a pineapple beverage with mescal and black pepper-brown sugar, and a beer-based cocktail.
"And you don't taste any alcohol," Corbet said of the brew-tail.
Reviving classic cocktails by using summer fruits and herbs plus local and small-batch liquors, infusing booze, making specific ice for certain drinks -- they're all in the mix at Nick & Toni's. "It's experimenting and playing," said Richard Scoffier, the East Hampton restaurant's food and beverage director. "I don't mind breaking rules."
That underscores a lot of what's going on locally.
Martin Cabrera, managing partner and beverage director at Navy Beach, for example, added a series of gin-and-tonic variations to the Montauk spot's cocktail repertoire this season, tweaking that elemental cocktail. "It's a drink that's becoming very popular again," he said. "It looks great, and it's so refreshing."
And Huntington's Honu Kitchen & Cocktails makes "signature drinks," such as a colorful black-currant margarita, a watermelon martini and the tequila- driven "The Spa," with muddled cucumber and mint. The Spa is "really well balanced, not overly sweet or acidic," said co-owner Mark Zecher.
Here are some of the new local cocktails, and four that never grow old. The brands cited in the recipes are those used by the restaurants for the specific cocktails. Comparable spirits may be used.
BLACK CURRANT MARGARITA
From Honu Kitchen & Cocktails, Huntington
1 1/2 ounces Herradura Silver tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 1/2 ounces POM black currant juice
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
Shake lightly and serve with ice cubes in a rocks glass.
This rum cocktail was so beloved, and imbibed, by Ernest Hemingway that his double version is called a Papa Doble. The following, more restrained, recipe is from "The Bartender's Best Friend" (Wiley, 2010).
2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Lime wedge, for garnish
Pour all the ingredients into a shaker two-thirds full of ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into a crushed ice-filled rocks glass. Squeeze the lime wedge on top.
CUCUMBER G & T
From Navy Beach, Montauk
2 ounces Hendrick's Gin
4 ounces Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water
Dash of celery bitters
Peel of cucumber
Pour gin into a highball glass with ice cubes. Add tonic water and celery bitters. Stir. Garnish with cucumber peel.
GEISHA ICED TEA
From Dockers, East Quogue
1 1/2 ounces Hendrick's Gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce peach schnapps
Slice of fresh orange
Splash of iced tea
Combine gin, Cointreau and schnapps and shake. Add the slice of orange and mint leaves. Top with the iced tea. Shake and serve.
THE GRAPE GATSBY
From Nick & Toni's, East Hampton
6 or 7 spearmint leaves
2 ounces Absolut vodka
1 ounce Wölffer verjus
Splash of prosecco
5 frozen red grapes for garnish (optional)
Muddle mint leaves with lemon wedge. Add vodka and verjus. Shake. Strain over ice. Top with prosecco. Garnish with grapes.
The name apparently is a variation on the Tahitian words for "very good." The beverage dates to the 1940s. This recipe is from "The PDT Cocktail Book" (Sterling Epicure, 2011).
1 ounce Banks 5 Island Rum
1 ounce Rhum Clément V.S.O.P.
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao
1/2 ounce Kassatly Chtaura orgeat
Mint sprig for garnish
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with pebble ice. Garnish with mint sprig.
From East Hampton Point
1 ounce Island Oasis strawberry frozen mix, or puree of strawberry, sugar and water
1 ounce Island Oasis piña colada frozen mix, or pineapple juice-coconut milk combination
2 ounces white rum
6 ounces shaved ice
Topper of another rum (optional)
Blend ingredients and pour into a highball glass. Add a splash of rum.
The mojito's popularity started in the 1940s and it has become a summertime standard for its flavor and versatility. This recipe is from "Mr. Boston Platinum Edition" (Wiley, 2006).
2 teaspoons sugar
4 sprigs fresh mint
1 lime, halved
2 ounces light rum
Muddle sugar and mint with some club soda in a pint glass. Squeeze both halves of lime into the glass, leaving one hull in the mixture. Add rum, stir and fill with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.
The Negroni began with a request by an Italian count at a cafe in Florence, circa 1920. The nobleman, named Negroni, asked the bartender to substitute gin for sparkling water in an Americano cocktail. This recipe is from "The Four Seasons Book of Cocktails" (Sterling Innovation, 2010).
2 ounces gin
1 1/2 ounces Campari
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Orange twist for garnish
Combine liquids in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir to chill. Strain into a martini glass or pour with ice into a rocks glass, and garnish.
SHANDY & SHRUB
From Roots Bistro Gourmand, West Islip
1/2 ounce simple syrup (see note)
1 ounce strawberry cider
1 1/2 ounces diced, macerated rhubarb
2 ounces cider vinegar
4 ounces Belgian pilsner
Reduce simple syrup, strawberry cider and diced rhubarb to syrupy consistency and pink hue. Chill. Stir in cider vinegar. Mix with pilsner. Serve on ice.
Note: Simple syrup is made with a 50-50 mix of granulated sugar and water that's simmered and stirred until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then refrigerate.