Using fruits, vegetables, and herbs when they are in season makes for better tasting food and drinks as well as saves money. Creating a seasonal cocktail menu, especially one that can easily be paired with your food menu items, is a smart idea. Since Spring has now sprung, we should see fewer pear and apple based drinks and more cocktails incorporating flavors like peaches, strawberries, rhubarb, beets, lemongrass, mint, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme should be popping up.
If you don’t have a trained mixologist on staff, trying to develop seasonal cocktails may seem daunting. However, you can easily take standard cocktails on your list and adjust them using spring flavors. You can also easily search the web for recipes and either take them as is or adjust them for your venue. Websites like Liquor.com have countless recipes with keywords and tags you can use to search for what you are looking for. Do you want a bourbon and peach drink? They’ve got you covered. Or check out a mixer page like Monin who filters their recipes by ingredients, flavors, and more. Check out their Lemongrass Mojito. Or just do a simple search online. Type in your spirit of choice, the flavor profile, include “cocktail” and “recipe”, and hit enter. Food and beverage magazines, mixologists, Food Network TV shows, bartenders, and liquor companies all have recipes they have shared over the years that you can take advantage of.
Now, I can hear you… of course, with all the ready-made syrups and liqueurs, there isn’t much need to stay strictly within the confines of what is seasonal. However, during every season there are flavors people look for because they ARE available. Having a list of a few drinks appropriate to the season will be welcomed by your guests. Your bar staff will be happy, too, since they will have a few “go-to” choices for the guest who asks, “What’s new?” (Watch for an upcoming post on the importance of the cocktail menu.)
As a parting gift, here is a recipe I created a few years ago. I loved the idea of strawberry and rhubarb in a drink and, after making my own rhubarb syrup, played around with a few ingredients I had on hand.
Rhubarb Strawberry Fizz
- 1 1/2 oz Gin
- 1/2 oz Strawberry liqueur
- 1/2 oz Lemon juice
- 1 oz Rhubarb syrup*
- Club soda
Put all ingredients except soda in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with a strawberry fan.
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup Sugar
- 6-8 oz Rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
Put all ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. Strain syrup into a glass or plastic container and refrigerate. Keeps up to one week.