Summer has arrived. Days are long. Nights go longer. And your customer’s long drink should be the longest of all. If you have a patio or beer garden, then your restaurant is primed to offer the best of summertime al fresco drinking. And while a margarita is a seasonal stand-by, you should make a pact with yourself and the drinking gods to offer something new and exciting to your guests this year. We’re here to help. Here are 3 great summer cocktail trends that will inspire you to create a unique and crowd-pleasing drink menu.
Frozen Wine Slushy
Long before you could belly-up to the bar for one, getting a slushy meant you stood, tip-toed and eager, handing a few dollars to the ice cream man in exchange for a watermelon or tiger blood slushy that was as much a sign of summer as it was a treat. Recent years have seen a revival of the frozen cocktail in the form of high-end slushies that have moved away from sickly sweet frozen daiquiris and margaritas. The modern frozen cocktail works on two levels: equally tasty and refreshing in the heat, these slushies also have the effect of turning potentially intimidating cocktails into something fun. A negroni slushy can demystify the Italian cocktail for the uninitiated by adding a jigger’s worth of amusement to the drink.
Wine slushies are a new twist on the frozen drink. Chicago’s al fresco pop-up restaurant Expat, offers a rosé sno cone as part of its sno cone and freeze pop drink menu. These drinks hit the mark of a perfect summer cocktail: refreshing, light, and fun.
One disclaimer: You will need some hardware to make and sell your booze slushy en masse.
Radlers helped catapult beer cocktails onto the drinking map. Stiegl Radler, a light, grapefruit alcoholic soda that is part beer, part soft drink, is tasty enough on its own. But adding gin, vodka, or even malort to a radler, creates something both exciting and simple.
The radler helped popularize them, but beer cocktails can be more than just shandy-mixes. IPAs, wheat beers, and sours are all making their way into cocktails in some truly wonderful ways.
Uncorkd customer and iconic cocktail hub, Sable Kitchen and Bar, just released their new summer menu. The seasonal selection has a section devoted to beer cocktails. The list includes a reimagining of the radler cocktail; mixing gin, grapefruit, tarragon syrup and beck’s non-alcoholic beer to recreate the citrus flavors with an herbal twist . Fruited beers and sours are sublime options for a beer cocktail. These brews have the citrus, floral, and fruity flavors that you look for in a classic summer cocktail. An added ingredient like tarragon syrup can amplify those notes.
One thing be aware of when using beer in cocktails is to not waste beer. That’s generally a golden rule. But once opened, a beer turns flat rather quickly. Build cocktails with proportions that allow you to use a bottle of beer for every 2-cocktails made. Or, use beer on draft in an effort to cut back on bottle waste.
We wrote about shrubs as a cocktail trend to watch in 2016. Summertime is the perfect season for shrub-based cocktails. Fruity and tart, shrubs combine fruit, sugar, and vinegar to add intriguing and bright flavors in cocktails. They are ripe for endless riffing with different combinations of fruits, spices, and vinegars. This is a great way to concoct seasonal cocktails that highlight summer fruits.
Shrubs were originally used as a way to preserve fruits. The acidity of the vinegar reduces concerns about produce spoiling or fresh juices fermenting, so your bar can get maximum use out of a shrub batch.
Shrubs blend of acidity, fruit, and sugar, is a perfect vehicle for tequila and mezcal based cocktails. Tequilas popularity peaks in the summer, and with mezcal’s smokey flavor gaining fans, shrubs are an intriguing way to serve agave-spirit cocktails to your guests with an added twist.
Oh, and shrubs are great to drink on their own. They are also known as drinking vinegar. If the vinegar flavor is too much on its own, adding it to seltzer is a great way to punch up your sparkling water.
Do you want to connect with your guests and increase beverage sales? Visit Uncorkd today.