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Bartenders Predict Summer's Best Cocktail Ingredients

By Serena Solomon | May 27, 2014 6:23am | Updated on May 27, 2014 6:29am
 Rhubarb, rosewater and fruit brandy are some of the ingredients bartenders will be pushing this summer.
Summer Cocktail Ingredients
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NEW YORK CITY — Summer is the time to mix it up for cocktails.

Like chefs, bartenders search for in-season inspiration at farmers markets and seek out little-known ingredients for their latest concoctions, according to Will Elliott, head bartender at Williamsburg bar Maison Premiere.

And there's never a shortage of patrons willing to taste Elliott's fresh creations.

"It really gets magnified for us [in the summer] — the windows open up and it goes right through to the courtyard," said Elliott. The bar, at 298 Bedford Ave., gets so popular in the summer it doubles its staff when it gets warm, he said.

"There are towers of seafood, Champagne and, hopefully, cocktails." 

DNAinfo New York spoke to some of the leading bartenders in the city to find the must-try cocktail ingredients for this summer.

Maison Premiere at 298 Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg

Eau de vie is a fruit brandy that uses anything from pear to raspberry — even stretching to vegetables such as carrot. 

"It's so lively in a cocktail," said Elliott of the distilled fruit juice that hails mostly from European countries like France and Germany.

A half ounce can be used to modify a cocktail or a dash can be a unique addition to a glass of champagne.

Apotheke at 9 Doyers St. in Chinatown

Any type of melon — cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon — will be a ubiquitous ingredient across the city's cocktail menus this summer, according to head bartender Chris Marshall from Apotheke.

"Most melon has the flavor sensation referred to as 'umami,' which is a Japanese term for 'pleasant savory taste,'" he said, adding that the subtle flavor of melon when combined with a pepper or herb can be "the basis for a great cocktail." 

One of the cocktails at Apotheke that features melon is the Pillowtalk with honeydew, vodka and champagne.

2nd Floor on Clinton at 67 Clinton St., on the Lower East Side

The pink hue of rhubarb is the favorite summer ingredient for mixologist Ektoras Binikos.

"You can use the stalks as a muddling component in a cocktail to add flavor or make rhubarb simple syrup," he said.

The Little Gidding at 2nd Floor on Clinton pairs gin, Aperol, lemon and egg whites with fresh rhubarb and rhubarb bitters.

Washington Market Tavern at 41 Murray St. in TriBeCa

"Rosewater is gathering some momentum lately and I expect it to trend in a big way this spring [and] summer," said Stephen King, the beverage director at the Washington Market, which is scheduled to open in June.

The Chelsea cocktail is "a subtle, yet distinctly floral affair" that adds lavender, rosewater, elderflower liqueur and chamomile syrup to a vodka base, he said.

The Derby at 167 Orchard St., on the Lower East Side

While young ravers down Fireball Cinnamon Whisky as a shot, the Derby is taking a more sophisticated route by laying it as a base for its Firefly cocktail.

"It gives it a little bit of heat towards the end," said Kayla King, a bartender at the Derby, which took over the space in early May from the short-lived Tiny Fork.

Firefly mixes the flavored whisky with grapefruit juice, sour mix and soda water.