Spring cocktails from six of Washington’s best bartenders

After a harsh winter, it’s finally time to trade hot toddies and heavy flips for summery rum drinks and refreshing gin cocktails. As spring is a time of renewal, we wanted more than the same old mojitos and rickeys. We asked some of the area’s top bartenders to create a new cocktails to welcome the new season.

For recipes, click on the cocktail's name or photo. 

The Red Rover Cocktail
Sophie Szych and Rachel Kling, Quill at the Jefferson Hotel

Even in warm weather, “we’re bourbon girls, really,” says Szych. She and Kling muddle seasonal berries with Bulleit bourbon “for some heat,” and then they add a California cabernet, inspired by their recent training for a sommelier exam. “It’s really floral, but it’s not very fruit-forward,” Kling explains. Adds Szych: “We wanted to make a grown-up, summery Manhattan-Sangria.”

(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

 

Tidal Basin Picnic Special
Jon Harris, Donovan House Rooftop

“It’s basically pink lemonade,” says Harris, who is also responsible for cocktails at the Hotel Madera’s Firefly. This one is a riot of fresh spring flavors: Clear Creek kirschwasser, or cherry brandy; the bright floral liqueur de violettes; fresh lemon; and Fever-Tree’s Bitter Lemon sharp fizzy soda. Like lemonade, it’s perfectly refreshing on a warm day.


Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

 

It Must Have Been the Roses
Julien-Pierre Bourgon, Bar TNT and PX

Bourgon strove to make “something light and floral” and named it after “one of my favorite Grateful Dead slow jams.” As a base, he uses a Tazo tea with scents of lemon verbena, lemon balm, rose and valerianroot, and balances it with vodka and sparkling wine. “I wanted the lemon to be subtle,” he says. The final touch: a lemon-peel rose, dipped in bitters, that “blooms” in the glass.

(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

 

Babs in Spring
Chantal Tseng, Mockingbird Hill

Tseng took the Barbara West — named for a survivor of the Titanic — and recast it using the Spring/Summer Green Hat Gin from Washington’s New Columbia Distillers. Made with cherry blossom petals and three kinds of citrus peels, the gin adds a soft fruitiness to the lemon-grass-like Moscatel sherry — a taste Tseng accentuates with a burned stalk of lemon grass.

(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

 

(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
(Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

An English Country Garden
Gordon Banks, Bar Charley and Jackie’s Sidebar

Banks’s cocktail was inspired by seasonal peas paired with mint, their classic partner. “I’m always looking for ways to use mint to get people away from mojitos,” he says. He combines the minty pea syrup with a citrus gin and a touch of Montenegro, a bitter amaro that tastes of cherries and tangerines.

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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