It took only about eight months, but the weather is finally warming up and patio season is calling, leading bars to make changes to their cocktail menus from heavy and comforting, to light and fresh flavors.
Get a taste of summer at these five local establishments that revamped their menu to cater to the fresh flavors of the season.
Root Loops from the Black Sheep ($10)
367 Connecticut St.
Black Sheep is known for letting fresh, in-season ingredients inspire dishes and drinks, so it should come as no surprise when you see cocktails with fresh fruits and veggies on its menu.
Root Loops consists of carrots, freshly picked sweet strawberries, spicy ginger, Thai chile, tequila and a splash of orange liqueur for a citrusy finish.
“I will be making a juice with carrots, fresh ginger, local strawberries and Thai chile,” said Ellen Gedra, pastry chef and owner of Black Sheep. “We then build the cocktail using basic margarita proportions except using our juice in place of lime juice."
Depending on the sweetness of the carrots and strawberries, small adjustments may be made to balance the sweetness or tartness of the drink, for example with a dropper of saline, a splash of lime juice or a dash of orange bitters. Gedra suggests pairing the cocktail with oysters, carrot and chickpea curry, barbecue pork nuggets, a burger or just a side of fries to snack on.
[Related: Black Sheep owners take on Manhattan]
Botany Points from Dobutsu ($10)
500 Seneca St., Suite 119
Nothing says summer quite like a colorful fragrant orchid garnishing a light, refreshing cocktail. Botany Points is made with either vodka or gin, Quinquina (aromatised wine), tart lemon, rosé, soothing lavender and a bubbly element from the sparkling sake, giving the drink a fancy feel.
“We infuse a tincture of rose petals for the vodka or gin, make a lavender syrup for the sweetness, use a lightly flavored gin for delicate balance [or vodka], Quinquina as a tonic water-like flavor addition for a little bitterness, and top it with a floral sparkling saké that also adds effervescence as a nice final touch,” said Dobutsu executive chef James Roberts. The cocktail, originally created by beverage manager Brett Krebuszewski, is the perfect blend of floral flavors.
Nautical Disaster from Lloyd Taco Factory ($10)
1503 Hertel Ave.; 5933 Main St., Williamsville.
The Nautical Disaster is a staple that won’t sail away from the Lloyd cocktail menu anytime soon. The drink was named after the Tragically Hip song and inspired by the classic tiki cocktail, Navy Grog.
“The original cocktail was designed as a refreshment for British sailors in the 1700s. It was also a way to enhance and preserve the water they stored on the ship and get vitamins to fight diseases such as scurvy for the sailors,” said operations manager Yuri Polyachenko. “The tiki movement brought this cocktail back to life in the 1940s by Donn Beach and Trader Vic.”
The drink combines three rums (white, demerara, dark) blended with tart grapefruit, sour lime, a drizzle of sweet honey, cinnamon and falernum (a Caribbean spiced syrup). It is polished off with a few dashes of bitters and garnished with mermaid toys. He suggests pairing it with the Dirty South or crispy fish tacos.
Blueberry Smash from Share Kitchen ($10)
5590 Main St., Williamsville
“The blueberry smash has definitely become one of our signature cocktails and great for patio weather,” said Share owner Joel Schreck.
The cocktail was the result of a collaboration between bartender Chris Smith and bar manager/bartender Elisa Conroy. To make the drink, Smith starts out by muddling the mint with lemon juice to pull out the flavor and a scent that is both pleasant and strong. The muddled ingredients are mixed with the sweet blueberry jam (giving the drink a really pretty deep purple color), sour lemon and mint. It is topped off with blueberry vodka, a splash of soda water and a skewer of fresh blueberries.
They suggest pairing it with the bison sliders, which are topped with a sweet blueberry barbecue sauce, creamy goat cheese and caramelized onions. The sliders are so tender, you'll have to hunch over your plate to stop the juice from dripping down your shirt.
[Related: Dining review on Share Kitchen]
Daddy's Cookout from Lockhouse ($10)
41 Columbia St.
"We wanted to make a Buffalo-inspired cocktail and when we think of summer in Western New York, we think of Chiavetta's and family cookouts,” said Cory Muscato, distillery manager and partner at Lockhouse.
“Stirred up from our [former] bar manager, Casey Yeates, Daddy's Cookout is a riff on the classic cocktail the Sazerac. It's a boozy and nostalgic version that cocktail-curious drinkers can enjoy all season.”
The drink features Chiavetta's – the tangy marinade we know and love – which is infused in French cognac and combined with rye whisky, Honeoye Falls Cascade Absinthe, bitters and housemade local sweet corn syrup to complete the barbecue theme. You can almost hear the bad dad jokes and the distant sizzle of meat on a hot grill when you take your first sip.
With the ever-changing cocktail menu at Lockhouse, if the drink isn’t there, simply ask – they will still make it.