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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.