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By Oussama Zahr, Camille Cauti, and Tim Latterner | July 14, 2017 | Food & Drink
Daiquiris and piña coladas are the perfect vacation indulgences— beverages to be consumed enthusiastically, for several days in a row, once a year. But they don’t exactly scream “thirst-quenching,” “waistline-friendly,” or any other euphemisms we associate with a signature sip whose appeal lasts all summer long. Read on for six expert consults on how to tweak your favorites and kick them up a notch.
The creator: Nicole A. Portwood, a vice president at Tito’s Handmade Vodka (titosvodka.com) and a self-described “20-year barfly” (including five years behind the bar), tackles the classic vodka lemonade.
How she does it: “I love it as simple as it gets—two ounces of Tito’s with one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. That’s it. If I’m looking for a longer, more sessionable cocktail, I’ll top it with four ounces of sparkling mineral water.”
Seasonal touch: “We love to muddle a handful of fresh berries. Blueberries and strawberries are gorgeous this time of year. Even a sprig of mint brings the cocktail to life in a new way.”
The perfect pair: “It’s always great to mirror flavors, so something like a shaved fennel salad with lemon zest would go beautifully.”
Some assembly required: Try fruit- or herb-infused ice cubes. “Drop a few berries or a few leaves of basil or mint into the wells of an ice cube tray, freeze, and stack in a tall, slim glass.”
The Creator: Samantha Duane Finney, head bartender at The Bell & Anchor (3253 Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, 631-725-3400; bellandanchor.com)—as well as a personal trainer—shares her secrets for slimmed-down tiki drinks.
Slim, fast: “I view tiki cocktails as I do Bloody Marys—one and done. Splurge on one caloric drink, then go back to your usual. For lean mixes, keep it simple: fresh grapefruit with muddled cucumber and white rum, topped with seltzer.”
Skip the umbrella: “A long, spiraling twist wrapped around a peach wedge would look great as a garnish.” Infusion solutions: “Pineapple and vanilla are a yummy combination you can use in a rocked-out piña colada. I like to mix and infuse white rums—they’re kind of like a blank canvas. However, I prefer to sip on a nice aged rum on the rocks with an orange slice. Just keep it simple and explore the depth of flavor.”
Food for draught: “With punch, have fried snacks, roast shrimp, and fish cakes. Dark rum is great alone with chocolate!”
The Creator: Bartender Eve Rodriguez from Montauk Yacht Club (32 Star Island Road, Montauk, 631-668-3100; montaukyachtclub.com) shakes the fruit flavor into healthy margaritas.
Medical history: “Mexican doctors used to give margaritas to their patients as a cold and flu remedy—just tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. As time passed and people started adding more sugar, the drink became less healthy.”
Bloat be gone: “I do make a skinny version—just lime juice, tequila, and a little triple sec. Serve it without the salt, because the salt makes you retain water. Shaking it hard with fresh strawberries gives it a nice flavor, so you don’t miss the sugar. The strawberries actually dilute into the drink. It’s important not to sacrifice taste.”
It varies: “The tequila sunrise is not my favorite, because of the sugar content, but I do a tequila sunrise margarita that’s amazing, especially when served frozen.”
Before sunset: “Daytime is the best time for a margarita, like at an afternoon barbecue, and it also pairs well with ceviche and fish.”
The Creator: Julie Berger, sommelier at Nick and Toni’s (136 N. Main St., East Hampton, 631-324-3550; nickandtonis.com), distills the details for her lighter, juniper-inflected Bloody Mary.
Strength in numbers: “I drink different gins depending on the cocktail, but for Bloody Marys, I prefer something with a stronger juniper flavor.”
Ingredients list: “As far as making it healthier, it’s got the tomato juice and the Worcestershire, but I like to add some spiciness, like some sriracha pickle juice, which gives it a kick and lightens up the tomato juice, keeping the drink’s texture from being too thick. I also like the pickle juice I get from the farmers market out here.”
Flavor saver: “Aside from salt, pepper, and horseradish, I also like celery seed in my Bloody Marys.”
Shaken, not stirred: “Some people are doing almost a martini-style Bloody Mary, where you make a sangrita, which is a Mexican drink you get on the side of shots of tequila, and then you add the gin to that mix and shake it, so it’s more about the gin and less about the other stuff.”
The creator: Dara Lyubinsky, mixology consultant for VOSS (vosswater.com) and founding chef and owner of The Gather Company in Washington, DC, suggests using the brand’s lime-mint sparkling water for a flavor boost in mojitos and cucumber gin coolers.
Accompanied by: “I serve these cocktails with marinated grilled meats and herb-flecked sauces, or composed salads. One of my favorites is a Mexican street corn and kale salad with chipotle mayo, Cotija cheese, char-grilled corn, lime, cilantro, shredded kale, and baby heirloom tomatoes.”
Swap notes: “Our lime-mint sparkling is a great substitute for ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, even tonic. My fizzy hurricanes use 2 oz. each of light and dark rums and passion fruit and orange juices, plus the juice of one lime; instead of grenadine and simple syrup, use VOSS lime-mint sparkling to top it all off.”
Showing Bundt: “Throw back to the days of the ring mold with one large ice garnish. I use puréed watermelon in a minty watermelon-cucumber punch, but I also mix some with VOSS lime-mint sparkling and freeze it in a Bundt pan for a beautiful pink, bubbly block that infuses more flavor into the punch as it melts.”
The Creator: Rich Olsen-Harbich, the winemaker at Bedell Cellars (36225 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-7537; bedellcellars.com), fully endorses a no-fuss approach to #roseallday.
Quality control: “Winemakers are using better and better fruit to produce their rosé now, where in the past it might not have been the case. At Bedell, we dedicate sections of our vineyard specifically for rosé wines so the fruit has the perfect sugar and acid balance I want in the wine.”
Chilly reception: “There are really no hard-and-fast rules about how to chill rosé—right out of the fridge or in an ice bucket, it doesn’t matter. You can’t screw it up.” A wine with a view: “I think drinking rosé by the ocean is the best way to enjoy it.” Play around: “Mix it up with seltzer or even a sparkling like Prosecco. Using fresh fruit in a glass of rosé is always nice—strawberries, raspberries. I love the frosé idea.”
Lighten up: “There’s too much stress and nonsense surrounding the serving of wine today. Relax, celebrate, have fun, and enjoy it. That’s what I make it for!”