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4 tips for creating a cool summer beverage program

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The Sunset Affair combines Buffalo Trace Bourbon, sage-infused syrup, and orange and lemon juices.

Do you have a seasonal beverage program? If not, please consider one right away. It will likely give your beverage sales a nice bump, while tickling the fancy of your guests.

1. Go with garnishes. Lago by Julian Serrano, the contemporary Milan-inspired restaurant concept at Bellagio in Las Vegas, offers food-centric cocktails that match the Italian small plates menu. Each of the libations features a food component that complements its flavor, and includes an intricate garnish made by the resort’s beverage team.  Lago’s Mojito, for example, takes on a Tuscan accent with tropical fruit juices, Vermouth and Prosecco. The drink is garnished with an edible dried pineapple cone filled with mini passion fruit pearls. Bellagio master mixologist Ricardo Murcia says, “The food element in Lago’s cocktails allowed me to express my creativity and imagine a unique drinking experience that delivers on all different levels of taste.”

2. Explore some wild elements. Slow Food NYC offered a Foraged Cocktails event at the Natural Gourmet Institute on June 2. Attendees learned about some of the delicate flavors and subtle nuances of wild edible plants, tree barks and syrups that can enhance cocktails. Master forager Tama Matsouka Wong, the co-author of Foraged Flavor, talked about seasonal edible plants, while head mixologist Darryl Chan of Bar Pleiades prepared a few signature cocktails demonstrating how to incorporate foraged ingredients.

3. Enter into the global spirit. In Washington, DC, Daikaya izakaya and ramen shop introduced seasonal ShōchÅ« cocktails for spring, featuring the Japanese spirit distilled from ingredients that contain natural sugars (sweet potatoes, barley, rice and buckwheat). New signature cocktails include the Mothra, made with Awamori (a rice-based spirit from Okinawa), Lillet Rose and orange bitters. The cocktail is garnished with expressed orange zest. Daikaya’s new seasonal cocktails are priced from $11 to $13.

4. Mix and match. At Snuffer’s Restaurant & Bar, Dallas, the new expanded drink menu features eight different types of margaritas. The Sangria Swirl Margarita, for instance, is a frozen house rita swirled with sangria. The Dos-A-Rita is a blend of two Mexican favorites: Dos Equis and the restaurant’s house margarita, served either frozen or on the rocks.  Similarly, at Bâoli Miami, the seasonal cocktails feature favorite summer flavors such as berries, cucumber and mint. The Granmamm’s cocktail is made with gin, triple sec, infused cucumber, fresh cucumber puree, fresh lime juice and mixed pepper trilogy. It’s garnished with cucumber and mint leaf.

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