Feeling creative, but need a jump start? We crawled the local bars, quizzing (okay, sometimes harassing) the help and compiling a list of cool summer drinks. Bartenders at several favorite Valley spots were kind enough to share signature (sometimes secret) recipes -- so you can whip up everything from a minty fresh mojito to a spicy, tropical martini. Ambiance not included; make your own.
Luis' Mojito (Durant's, 2611 North Central Avenue, 602-264-5967)
Luis has tended bar at Durant's for a little more than four years -- long enough to cultivate customer cravings for his version of the mojito. The original recipe for this popular Cuban drink calls for simple syrup. "Some people don't like the simple syrup, so I make a more raw version," says Luis. Luis prepares his mojitos with precision, digging for the best-looking mint leaves and lime.
The lime lends a sweet edge to the drink, while the mint leaves and crushed ice will cool your head while you're cooling your heels by the pool.
1/4 cup mint leaves
4 packets sugar
1/2 oz. water
1/4 cup (or so) of crushed ice
Place the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a large rocks glass. Squeeze the lime juice over the mint leaves and drop the lime on top. Pour water and crushed ice over the leaves and pack the ice down. Fill the rest of the glass with white rum.
Dawn's Margarita (Bikini Lounge, 1502 Grand Avenue, 602-252-0472)
If you'd like to salt up your summer, stop in to Bikini Lounge and watch the ice in the blender go 'round as Dawn churns out a classic margarita. Have a few, and you might be spinning in circles, too. Dawn dishes out the recipe like a true teacher. "The amount of sweet and sour mix should be three times the amount of tequila," she advises.
Here's what you need for Dawn's margarita:
1 shot tequila
1/2 shot triple sec
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 parts sweet and sour mix
Put ingredients in a blender with ice, blend, and pour into a salted glass.
Phill's Bloody Mary (Casey Moore's Oyster House, 850 South Ash Avenue, Tempe, 480-968-9935)
Casey Moore's bartender Phill wants to let you in on a secret. "I have a lot of regulars who come in for my Bloody Marys," says Phill. "They say I make the best Bloody Marys." A pastiche of spices and sauces, Phill's Bloody Mary recipe would be almost impossible to figure out by taste alone. "Giving you the recipe requires me to give out my secrets," he adds. "But I'll do it."
Grab a 14-ounce glass and Phill it up with:
1 1/2 shots Absolut Citron
A touch of horseradish sauce
4 drops red Tabasco sauce
4 drops green Tabasco sauce
4 drops Arizona Gunslinger barbecue sauce
A couple shakes each of celery salt and black pepper
2 squirts olive juice
(Squeeze lemon and lime wedges onto glass rim)
A splash of Guinness
Fill remainder of glass with Ocean Spray Bloody Mary Mix
Chez Nous Martini (Chez Nous Cocktail Lounge, 675 West Indian School Road, 602-266-7372)
Chez Nous Cocktail Lounge's signature drink packs a swooning punch, with a cherry on top.
Rhonda, Chez's nighttime bartender, makes the drink with pride. "My friend Adrian invented the drink about six years ago, when she was bartending here," Rhonda says.
Shaken, not stirred, the Chez Nous Martini brings a tropical splash to a smoky summer night at the bar.
If you want Rhonda to whip one up for you, look for a friendly, tattooed blonde racing back and forth behind the bar, whipping up cocktails in record time.
If you want to bring a tropical splash to your next party, check out the recipe below, and add more or less alcohol to taste:
1 oz. Raspberry Stoli
1 oz. Strawberry Stoli
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. Malibu rum
Shake in a mixing glass, pour into a martini glass, and garnish with a cherry.
AZ 88's Summer Sazerac (AZ 88, 7353 Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, 480-994-5576)
The Sazerac is one of 12 signature drinks at AZ 88, "reputed to be the nation's first cocktail," according to the bar/restaurant's menu.
Antoine Psychaud invented the drink in 1859, and it has undergone a series of innovations since then. The original New Orleans recipe used cognac as a base liquor, and an 1870 recipe used a rye whiskey base. Herbsaint took absinthe's place in the recipe when the U.S. discovered the latter's addictive and (allegedly) hallucinogenic effects. AZ 88's Summer Sazerac shouldn't make you hallucinate, but it might be addictive. This recipe calls for Barbados rum in place of rye whiskey.
2 oz. Barbados rum
2 dashes Psychaud's Bitters
1 tsp. powdered sugar
A dash Herbsaint
Coat the inside of a cocktail glass with the Herbsaint and dissolve sugar in the bottom. Add two dashes of Psychaud's Bitters, fill the glass with rum, and garnish with the lemon twist.
Goodness (Devil's Martini, 4175 North Goldwater Boulevard, Scottsdale, 480-947-7171)
On the wagon? Devil's Martini -- of all places -- brews up a fruity concoction to tempt your taste buds. Jeremiah, the Biblically named daytime bartender, plucked this recipe from his Tree of Knowledge.
To try Goodness at its source, visit Devil's Martini and look for Jeremiah, "the only bald-looking guy" in the place, as he puts it.
To try Goodness at home, grab a glass and pour the following:
1 oz. Watermelon Pucker
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1 oz. Apple Pucker
1 oz. amaretto
A splash of orange juice
A splash of 7-Up