Toss the gin and tonic. And don't settle for a mediocre margarita. We've got 11 fresh summer cocktails that will have you dreaming of July all year long (really). Bottoms up.
Tennessee Peach at Del Frisco's Grille Who doesn't love fresh, juicy peaches in the summer? So just imagine them in a cocktail, mixed with Jack Daniels sour mash whiskey (from Tennessee), Arizona honey, lime juice and jalapeño -- a luscious little combo that brings a touch of heat to the sweet ($10). Now imagine drinking the Tennessee Peach on a second-story patio overlooking Squaw Peak. Sweet, indeed!
Coconut Margarita at The Mission The cocktails here are pricey, no doubt, but sometimes a little splurge is in order -- especially when a classic cocktail like the margarita has been tweaked in such a deliciously tropical, Pina Colada kind of way. The Coconut Margarita brings together premium Cruz del Sol tequila (an ultra-smooth, award-winning reposado made by a trio of ASU alums), Grand Marnier, coconut cream liqueur, pineapple juice, sweet and sour and toasted coconut ($15). Any questions?
Dazed and Infused at Crudo Chef-owner Cullen Campbell's sparely furnished new restaurant, specializing in crudo (Italy's elegant answer to sashimi), is already making waves with serious food-lovers since its June opening. And Micah Olson's beautifully crafted cocktails create yet another reason to go. Try his Dazed and Infused (a feminine little number that in no way conjures Led Zep) and you'll see what all the fuss is about: sparkling wine, strawberry-infused aperol (an Italian aperitif with an orange flavor), fresh lime juice and passion fruit syrup ($10). Yum!
The Hemingway at Citizen Public House Ernest Hemingway loved him some daiquiris, and The Hemingway (or Papa Doble) was created in Havana in his honor. Mixology maestro Richie Moe stays true to the original, throwing Don Q Cristal clear rum in a shaker with grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar and maraschino cherry liqueur, then serving this handsome refresher straight up in a martini glass with a garnish of lime zest ($11). It makes easy, all-night-long drinking as long as you remember the sun also rises.
De Rigueur at Old Town Whiskey Tucked inside The Saguaro Hotel, this modern-day saloon offers a comprehensive collection of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch. Old Town's De Rigueur is a cocktail classic, popular in the 30s after Prohibition's repeal. It's a grown-up drink, made more refreshing with a couple of contemporary tweaks: smooth Bulleit rye with aperol, grapefruit juice, lemon, honey and mint ($13).
Floradora at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails When it comes to craft cocktails, this mid-century-inspired Kimpton hotel in CityScape has got it going on. Try the feminine Floradora (Beefeater's gin, fresh lime, raspberry syrup, fresh ginger and fizzy soda, $10) and you'll be eager to come back, just to see what else Blue Hound's talented mixologists can do.
The Piggy Bank at The Mint Leave it to a trendy hot spot like The Mint to make use of a trendy ingredient like shochu -- a clear spirit often called "Japanese vodka." The Piggy Bank cocktail couldn't be simpler or more appealing: Ty-Ku shochu (also spelled soju), pressed watermelon and lime juice, served in a martini glass with a watermelon slice for garnish ($13). Be careful! This one goes down way too easily.
#17 at Windsor If there's a better neighborhood hangout than the Windsor, we haven't found it. Grab a seat at the center-stage bar (unless you're macho enough to brave the patio) and order a numbered cocktail. This summer, we're partial to the #17 -- a cool-looking concoction of cucumber vodka, green tea syrup, fresh cucumber and mint. How Green Is My Valley! Priced at $9 after 5 p.m., #17 is $5 between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Mojito at Rum Bar Don't be hating on the mojito just because it's been on every cocktail menu, in every possible permutation, for the past seven or eight years. It's a super-refreshing Caribbean classic, and nobody in town makes a better one than the Rum Bar. Matusalem (a premium Caribbean white rum) is one of the secrets, and demerara (unrefined sugar with a rich molasses-like flavor) is the other. Two of these will put you in an island state of mind ($9).
Blueberry Yuzu at The Grind Although this narrow, dimly lit restaurant and bar is probably most famous for its coal-fired burgers, the place does an excellent job on craft cocktails as well. Try the Blueberry Yuzu -- a gorgeously purple mixture of Ketel One vodka, fresh blueberry puree, yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit, tart like a grapefruit with overtones of orange), lime juice and fresh basil -- and you'll see why this neighborhood watering hole has a following ($10).
Sake Snowcone at Sushi Roku The kid in you won't be able to resist Sushi Roku's adult version of the snow cone, made with Ozeki sake and shaved ice. Offered in three flavors -- fresh peach (puree), fresh strawberry (muddled) and fresh ginger (simple syrup), they're cold, pretty and oh-so-delicious ($5).
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