In preparing for our Summer Drinks Feature (coming soon), we talked with Kris Rizzato, bar manager at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant in San Diego:
What makes a great summer cocktail—popular flavors, drink styles, spirits?
A great summer cocktail can be made with rum or gin. The goal is to create a beverage that is light, citrusy, effervescent and refreshing. You will see drink menus shift that way in the hot months to come.
What drinks are customers drawn to this time of year?
Everyone is different: Sometimes customers want a Manhattan, sometimes they want a Grapefruit Collins. But if there’s anything that attracts people, it’s a cocktail with crushed ice.
What are some of the signature cocktails on your menu this season; what was the inspiration for developing/offering them?
At Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, we have a classic Painkiller and a Jet Pilot on the menu at the moment. They are classic Tiki cocktails that are popular in the summer months. The Painkiller features a house blend of dark and light rums, coconut cream, with fresh pineapple and orange juice. It’s served in a snifter of crushed ice with grated nutmeg on top.
The Jet Pilot is the exact opposite in flavor. It is made with a house blend of rums complemented with a hint of Angostura bitters and St. George absinthe, a house-made falernum syrup with fresh lime and grapefruit juice. It is served in a snifter with crushed ice as well.
Any tips for creating summer cocktails, unique garnishes, mixers or food/snack pairings?
I recommend sticking with what is in season. Go to a farmers market and pick some stuff out and play with it. Don’t spend too much time with the garnish. Keep it simple and manageable.
What is your own favorite cocktail in the summer and why?
To me, nothing beats a delicious Barr Hill gin and Fever-Tree tonic. It’s made with only raw honey and juniper in Vermont. Keep an eye out for it. It might change your life.