Remember when White Claw was the drink of summer?
Or when the trend was a Moscow mule?
Well, put down the seltzer and step away from the brass mug.
Local bartenders have a selection of unique drinks to try this summer.
Jonette Politoske from Major Stokes Bar in Greensburg said infusions are the most highly requested drinks at the restaurant.
“Typically when people come in here, they ask for my infusions,” said Politoske, of Greensburg. “They’ll get a beer and whatnot, but we’re known for our infusions.”
An infusion typically includes a mix of alcohol, fruit and simple syrup. Politoske, the dining room manager at Major Stokes, said gin and bourbon are “trending big,” so they are often included in her infusions.
Some of the popular infusion flavor combinations include strawberry lime gin, cucumber lime gin, lemon honey ginger vodka, strawberry watermelon vodka, espresso amaretto bourbon and horseradish black cracked pepper vodka.
Though the infusions are typically served on the rocks, Politoske said some customers will add a splash of seltzer to complete the drink. She added that those looking for a new seltzer after the White Claw and Truly craze of summer 2021 can try High Noon, a canned vodka soda.
Refreshing summer flavors
Any drink can be tailored to the season by incorporating classic summer flavors and undertones.
Dan Clougherty — owner of the Youngwood bartender school Wines, Steins, and Cocktails — said fruit flavors can add a pop of summer to a traditional high ball.
Take a vodka cranberry, for example. Clougherty recommends adding pineapple juice to cranberry juice and vodka.
The vodka can also be swapped for Malibu coconut rum to achieve an extra tropical punch.
Clougherty, of Youngwood, said a typical high ball consists of 1 to 1.5 ounces of alcohol and 3 to 4 ounces of mixer. With ice, the drink should be around 10 ounces.
Chasing that summer sunset feel? Clougherty recommended a “Dusk to Dawn” – tequila, blackberry brandy, orange juice and grenadine, which is a pomegranate syrup commonly used in drinks and baking.
For something stronger, Clougherty suggested an “Electric Banana Shot,” which can be adjusted to high ball proportions if desired. To make this drink, simply splash in three-quarters of an ounce of banana liqueur to an equal amount of tequila. Add ice and shake for a sweet summer treat.
Those looking to freshen up their glass of wine can use their favorite wine in a spritzer or cooler.
A typical wine spritzer can be as simple as half to three-quarters of a glass of wine with club soda. A cooler typically contains ginger ale or a lemon-lime soda like 7Up, but it can be topped with a cherry or a wedge of lime.
Clougherty advised using a dry white wine in a spritzer and red wine or rosé in a cooler.
Spice up a go-to can of beer
Squeeze a bit of summer into a favorite beer with a splash of lemonade, a drink called a “Beer Shandy.”
Clougherty said 8 ounces of beer mixed with an equal amount of lemonade or lemon-lime soda — accented with a wedge of fresh lemon — is a great way to freshen up a beer and bring a new perspective to the traditional cold glass of lemonade.
Have a sweet tooth? Clougherty suggested adding a scoop or two of ice cream to a stout beer for an “adult” take on a root beer float.
Clougherty said any stout works well in this combination, but a milk or chocolate stout is most ideal. Simply pour 10 to 12 ounces into a glass and top it with a scoop of vanilla or coffee-flavored ice cream. A dusting of unsweetened cocoa enhances the taste and aesthetic of the drink.
One can also opt for a “Fruit Beer Float” by exchanging the stout for a Belgian red berry sour beer.
More to a mimosa
Beer can even be added to the staple brunch outing beverage — mimosas.
Clougherty said a “Beermosa” typically combines a 12-ounce IPA with 4 ounces of orange juice, but it can also be done with 2 ounces of orange juice and 2 ounces of pineapple juice. A different kind of fruit juice or freshly crushed berries also make good flavor pairings, according to Clougherty.
Politoske said mimosas are popular at Major Stokes, but swapping in a cranberry flavor is another good way to spice up this tradition.
Keep it simple and flexible
Although Clougherty encouraged creativity in seasonal drink design, he also cautioned against tasteless complexity.
“I think there’s beauty in simplicity,” Clougherty said.
He encouraged taking a basic drink — like wine, beer, gin, bourbon or vodka — and considering how one or two traditional summer flavors can improve it. Adding strawberry or banana flavorings to a margarita or crushed berries to a Moscow Mule, for example, can go a long way.
Another word of mixology wisdom from Clougherty: It is important to stay flexible. Making unique drinks, he said, is about “crafting” the beverage to one’s preferences.
“There’s not one way of doing everything,” Clougherty said.