Love & Sex

The Three Cocktails You Should Drink This Memorial Day

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We poll local bartenders on the perfect drinks to kick off the summer.

151 Mercer St., New York, NY

What's the best drink for the summer?
All of our cocktails are named after Beatles songs. The drink I think you should be drinking now that the weather's getting nice is called "Across the Universe." It's our take on a margarita, and the reason it's special is that it's made with fresh watermelon and jalapeno tequila. It's one of our most popular drinks in the summertime.  

What kind of drink would you send to impress a lady?
I'd send her something white and fruity, something that looks pretty. Maybe a "Sexy Sadie." That has pear vodka, pear puree, St. Germain and a little dash of cassis.  

Is there a classy way to do shots?
I think in the summer you should do a room-temperature good tequila with a orange wedge afterwards. Generally anything that's one-hundred-percent agave is good. There's one tequila in particular that everyone thinks is the best, but I don't want to get in trouble naming names. 

Oh, come on. You won't get in trouble.
Okay, it's Patron. Patron Silver. It's just about marketing, and really, it's like the Bud Light of tequila. It has no flavor.  

So when people ask for a Patron Silver margarita…
It's because that's what marketing told them that's what they should be drinking. But there's no bite to it, and for a margarita, where all the other ingredients are so sweet, I think you need something with a little bite to it.  

What's a drink order that would impress you?
Just ordering properly and knowing what you want. Knowing the lingo. Definitely nothing blue.

Across the Universe
1 and 3/4 oz. Tanteo jalapeno tequila
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
Fill the rest of the glass with watermelon puree, and garnish with lime.

95 Avenue A, New York, NY

So talk us through what you're going to make here.
I'm going to make an Arrack Swizzle. This uses a very unusual variety of spirit, which is arguably a kind of rum, called Batavia Arrack. It's made out of fermented red rice, and it was originally developed as a flavoring for chocolate by the Dutch.

I did not know that.
It's from the Dutch East Indies, it's one of the oldest continually produced spirits on record, and it's got a very funky taste. That taste usually when we talk about rum is called "hogo." It's a very prickly, woody taste, and in this particular case, I'm taming that a lot and making it into a drink that's very accessible and very summery. It uses the funk of the arrack to really give it some backbone, so you're drinking something that's light and refreshing, but at the same time it doesn't let you forget you're drinking a serious cocktail.

This is very advanced.
It's kind of very much in the spirit of what we like to do here. We like to do things that are about taking unusual rums and unusual sugarcane spirits and taking this huge array of wonderful stuff that we have and showcasing each of these individually.

What kind of drink would you send to a girl you were trying to impress?
That one's easy. I would do the Queen's Park Swizzle. It's a classic, invented in Trinidad in 1906. It's very pretty. Not that we don't do pretty drinks in general, but this is especially. It's just lime juice, simple syrup, El Dorado three-year rum, and ice.

What's a drink that you'd be embarrassed to order?
Inappropriate drinks are the only things that are embarrassing to order. If you're going to a beer and shots place, don't order a fancy cocktail, and if you're going to a place like this, order a serious drink. It's very much a situational thing.

What about an apple martini? 
Never order an apple martini. That's not a serious drink. Plus there's a much better alternative to the apple martini, which is the Jack Rose cocktail. 

What makes a good bar for a date?
I can't believe I'm saying this, because I'm kind of shooting my own commercial prospects in the foot, but — and part of this is about the appropriateness — I wouldn't go to a serious cocktail bar like this on a first date.

Why's that?
Because I take this too seriously, and I think it's a lot nicer to order something simple on a date. If you do come to a place like this, you want to embrace the experience. Coming here is like going to the theater on a date and then not paying attention to the performance. If you're not going to embrace this experience, why would you bother coming to a place like this?

Do you consider yourself a mixologist?
I hate that word.

All right, then, forget I said that.
I consider myself a bartender. But I understand why people need to use the word mixologist. You need to use it if you have consulting gigs, because people who are not serious about this take that word seriously.

Arrack Swizzle
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz sweet vermouth
2 oz Rum
2 oz Arrack
½ oz sugarcane syrup (or simple syrup)
Crushed ice
Finish with 3-5 dashes of bitters for color and aromatics, garnish with mint.

Queen's Park Swizzle
Muddle lime and mint in the bottom of a glass, add:
3 oz Rum
1oz simple syrup
½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Crushed ice
splash of grenadine for color

Bar 89
89 Mercer St., New York, NY

What are we having?
This is a Champagne Mojito.

Did you create this drink?

What makes this the perfect summer drink?
It's kind of a mix of a mojito and champagne, and the champagne twist just makes it taste light and fresh. 

What kind of drink would you send to a girl you were trying to impress?
This, because it's really good. In the winter, a glass of red wine.

What does sending someone this kind of drink say about you? A glass of wine is always classic and in good taste. This is…
It's adventurous!

What's a drink that turns you off?
A really strong drink, like a Long Island Iced Tea, isn't very tasty, so it's clear you're doing it just to get drunk. It's not attractive. A strong drink might be a sign of bad things to come. 

Would you say you have a signature drink, other than this?
A Hawaiian volcano, which is all different rums and juices. And I like to drink red wine. 

You don't like people who order strong drinks, so I have to ask — shots. Are they ever appropriate?
Maybe for occasional celebrations. 

Birthdays. Birth. Death of your enemies. 
Something like that.

Champagne Mojito
3 limes
muddled mint
3/4 ounces Star African Rum
3/4 ounces PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur 
3/4 ounces pineapple juice
Shake, and top with champagne.