Many cocktails are fruit-based, but that’s changing as inventive bartenders experiment on the savory side. Cucumbers can be found in some classic drinks such as the Pimm’s Cup, but now herbs, chilies, beets and even parsnips are showing up in drinks.
CraftWorks’ Blue Grille concept, for example, offers The Geisha Fresh, cucumber muddled with sake-infused vodka and liquor infused lychee. Vice president of beverage Stuart Melia is also developing a Cucumber and Basil Collins.
“I definitely see that vegetables can be interesting in cocktails,” says Melissa Davis at HMSHost. A new English Afternoon Mocktail, for example, muddles cucumber and basil leaves. The Southbound Flight is a veggie Margarita variation, with reposado tequila, agave nectar, lime, cucumber and cilantro.
At Wynn Encore in Las Vegas, mixologist Patricia Richards designed a spicy twist on the Margarita with house-made red jalapeño agave syrup and cilantro leaves, called the Amante Picante Margarita. A Roasted Pineapple and Sage Sidecar is a savory take on the classic, concocted with house-made roasted pineapple and sage puree.
Perhaps the most ven turesome explorer in veggie drinkology is Brooklyn’s 606 R&D. The signature Odd Fashioned is made from Bourbon, brown sugar, orange bitters and house-made parsnip syrup. A Genever Old Fashioned substitutes Dutch Gin for Bourbon and spices it up with thyme-white pepper syrup. On the brunch menu is a Romanian Bloody Mary, enriched with beet juice.
Chef Ilene Rosen at 606 R&D also wears the mixologist’s hat and is experimenting with fresh oregano and lavender for spring and summer cocktails. One is a twist on the Aviation, mixing Old Tom Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, lemon juice and lavender; another is a Margarita variation with a chile-oregano-salt rim and oregano sprig garnish. Currently, ramps are on the food menu at 606 R&D and on the drink list. The Forager Martini features ramp-infused vodka and lemon juice muddled with fresh parsley and arugula stems. “Customers love the Forester Martini,” says bartender Elijah Venanzi.