We’ve waited all year for the warm weather, the sunshine, and of course, cool, summery cocktails. If you’re going to drink, New York is the place to do it. Where else can you get a snow cone doused with tequila? There’s spicy margaritas, pickled martinis, and even an oddly refreshing sugar snap pea libation at Rouge Tomate. There’s no better way to beat the heat then sipping a cocktail on a rooftop bar, lounging in a garden, or chilling inside by the air conditioner. We’ve tasted more than our fair share and rounded up a few of our favorite for 2011.
235 Mulberry St. between Prince and Spring Sts.
Negronis immediately transport us to Italy, so of course, this bitter orange cocktail is one of our favorite aperitifs. The negroni and its many variations at Rubirosa could compete with the best of them and that’s saying something in this city. Try the classic negroni or one of the riffs that rotate on the specials board. All of them are served in a martini glass with an orange peel. Whichever you choose will pair nicely with Rubirosa’s vodka pizza. It’s one of the best kept secrets of this Nolita pizza joint.
White & Church
Address: 281 Church St. at White St.
This Il Matto
redo swaps out the avant-garde (often bizarre) fare for more simple, subdued food, but they wisely kept their talented mixologist, Christina Bini, who came over from Italy just for the occasion. The new cocktail menu is just as creative and much more accessible with a terrific, daquiri-style cocktail called Summer. The finishing touch is a grasshopper, but you can ask for yours without if that’s not your cup of tea. Either way, we highly suggest you sample this creamy, cook blend of Batida de Coco, oatmeal milk, sugar and bamboo leaves, which is highly reminiscent of horchata.
McClure Pickle Martini
Address: 122 St. Marks Place between First Ave. and Ave. A
We first fell in love with pickle juice in our martini at Cabrito, but since it closed, we’ve had to search elsewhere for a fix, which is how we fell upon Bua Bar. This Alphabet City joint lets you take your pick of vodka or gin, then adds a generous splash of McClure’s popular pickle juice and voila, a dirty, briny martini. Get there on the early side to grab one of the three tables on the front porch to soak up summer in the city in the great outdoors. You can even order a pickle platter to complement your martini.
Tequila Snow Cone
Address: 622 Third Ave between 40th and 41st Sts.
If you loved snow cones growing up, you’ll like the grown up version at Zengo even better. This Latin American midtown spot laces their crushed ice cocktails with tequila and you can get one in Zengo’s dining room or its adjoining tequileria, La Biblioteca. If you ask us, the best part is that you don’t have choose between tamarind, hibiscus and strawberry. Instead, order a trio of the three flavors — an outstanding way to take the edge off a long work day.
Address: 232 E. 53rd St near Second Ave.
Though it sounds like a cocktail for the country club set, the Tom Collins is one of the most refreshing cocktails around, which is why it’s become a classic. Social Eatz’s version puts a unique spin on it, substituting yuzu for lemon juice. The best place to enjoy this fizzy drink is in the restaurant’s newly minted back patio. There’s more where that came from, like a Coconut Curry Daiquiri, Monsoon Sour, or Bloody Social.
Spicy Pepino Margarita
Address: 570 Tenth Ave at 42nd St.
Truth be told, we’d come here just to sit in the gorgeous outdoor space, which sounds odd considering its close proximity to the Lincoln Tunnel. But you’ll forget where you are, especially when you see the terrace’s cocktail list, which oozes imagination and summer. There’s everything from a Blueberry-Shiso Caipirinha to a Peach & Bourbon Iced Tea (that can also be ordered by the pitcher), and even an Asian spin on the Michelada. Still, our favorite is the Spicy Pepino Margarita, which injects a kick of Serrano pepper into this citrus & cucumber based tequila drink. If you need any more convincing, spicy flavors are supposed to cool you down in hot weather, so why not test out the theory?
Address: 10 E. 60th St.
We’ve been fans of Rouge Tomate’s healthful eating ethos and classic French techniques since it opened. That applies to their cocktails, too. We had our doubts about this vibrant green drink that practically screams healthy juice drink, but one sip and we were sold on the Spring Pea cocktail. It’s a blissfully complicated and aromatic drink, made with chamomile tea-infused vodka, clementine and lemon juice, vegetal sugar snap pea water, and a finishing touch of jalapeno. (In fact, it’s a little too easy to drink.)
Address: 409 W. 13th St. near Ninth Ave.
If you’re craving a scene or a late-night bite, Brasserie Beaumarchais is a great option. But perhaps the best thing about the restaurant formerly known as Bagatelle are its cocktails. While the Meatpacking District is best known for its raucous brunch parties and late-night shenanigans, we like it best at l’apero (happy hour). The Beaumarchais Limonade, a blend of vodka, lemon, and cucumber juice, is a slightly sweet, a little sour, and perfect for downing on the front porch while people-watching.
RG Writer: Lauren Bloomberg