No shocker here: A recent study says alcohol consumption has surged all across the land because, well, you know: global pandemic. We asked local chefs and bartenders whether they’re drinking more, what they’ve been enjoying, and asked for summery cocktail recipes to help us all refresh our home bar output. Here are the results — plus a salubrious recipe for sun tea, and some sage advice here and there.
ABIGAIL GULLO, bar manager, Ben Paris downtown
Break out the good stuff, y’all. There is really good whiskey in my house right now, and it is disappearing just like all my hopes and dreams for 2020. My current cocktail fascination is themed around everything we are missing: festivals, concerts, nightclubs, BASEBALL!
For baseball, we have the Gin Griffey Juniper, of course. And I have been really into that yacht-rock escapism, and missing boat and floating festivities — bring on Seafair Shenanigans. It’s a classic sherry cobbler with a tiki twist. Take me away, Rattlesnake Lake!
Gin Griffey Juniper
- 2 ounces gin
- 5 ounces tonic
- ½ ounce lemon-thyme shrub (see below)
- Fruits, twigs and berries — whatever you can forage!
Serve over ice in the biggest wineglass you have … you need it these days.
- 2 lemons
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- ¼ cup apple cider or white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar, if you want to get fancy)
Peel lemons into thick ribbons and add peels into a container with a cup of sugar. Muddle the peel in the sugar and let sit for at least two hours or leave in the fridge overnight. Add ¾ cup of boiling water and stir until sugar dissolves. Add thyme, stir and let cool. After two hours, strain the solids and add vinegar to the liquid. Bottle and keep refrigerated, shaking every now and again. Keeps for months.
- 1 ounce bourbon
- 1 ounce amontillado sherry
- ½ ounce rhubarb liqueur
- ½ ounce raspberry purée
Swizzle over crushed ice in a tall tiki glass, and garnish with fresh berries and mint with a few drops of Tiki bitters on top.
I’ve been drinking lots of spiked seltzers as of late (love/hate how easy they are to consume), along with natural wines I pick up from La Dive and L’Oursin. I probably drink less overall since the pandemic — definitely way less hard alcohol, but more hard seltzers. To tell the truth, I haven’t done much cocktail creating. My creativity side has been focused on at-home cooking. If I do make drinks, I stick with the basics — Salty Dawgs with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, rye/mezcal with fresh Granny Smith apples — very simple beverages with market ingredients. I don’t need to impress anybody at the moment.
- 1 ½-2 ounces tequila (preferably blanco)
- 4-5 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- ¼ ounce lime juice (optional)
- ¼ ounce simple syrup (optional)
Salt the rim of a glass. Add tequila, juice and ice, then lime and/or simple syrup to taste. Have two more.
MARIA HINES, chef/owner, Tilth in Wallingford
Day drinking is legit during COVID, right?! My friend turned me on to the combination of Oola gin, rhubarb shrub, bubbly water and lemon peel with a blueberry ice cube.
The COVID-19 Day Drinker
- 1 ½ ounces gin (Oola is local/good)
- 1 ½ ounces rhubarb shrub (see below)
- 3 ounces club soda or sparkling water
- Lemon peel twist (no pith, please! Pith equals bitter)
- 1 jumbo ice cube (extra credit if you make your ice cubes in a silicone muffin mold with some blueberries or raspberries in each one)
- Mint or basil sprig, if you’re feeling fancy
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen rhubarb in ½-inch chunks
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 ¾ cup coconut sugar (or 1 ½ cup cane sugar)
Throw it all in a saucepan and let simmer for 20 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve. Bottle and store the shrub liquid in fridge; keeps for six months or longer.
LIZ KENYON, head chef, Rupee Bar in Ballard and Manolin in Fremont
When the pandemic hit 50 months ago, I didn’t stray too far from my whiskey ditch (a Montana saying for whiskey with a water back), but I love to “class” mine up with a Lurisia. About a month ago, after taking hit after hit from things changing every day, running two restaurants, trying to be flexible and plowing through lots of whiskey, I came to a realization that I was starting to not perform to the best of my abilities, which the people around me needed. I was getting stuck in a “whiskey ditch.”
The staff at Rupee Bar and Manolin usually do a Health Challenge in January to reset for the year (like a lot of people do). But after a rough couple of months, we decided to do another one starting right after the Fourth of July to get back on track. It’s based on a point system, with everybody recording their numbers in a shared doc every day. One point is allotted for each: working out for 30 minutes, no tobacco/nicotine, no sweets and no alcohol. The top three highest point-earners get goodies — and bragging rights, of course.
I have been staying strong because I know what I need to be a solid leader, and sometimes it’s pushing the reset button and being sober. These times have been tough for everyone, but the best thing we can do is keep pushing and try our best.
For right now, I have been drinking lots of sun tea. It’s a short sun-tea season around here, so get it while you can!
Sun Tea for Tough Times
- Squeezed-out citrus rinds (I take the leftover ones from the oranges, limes and lemons we juice every day — you can reserve the juice for other use)
- A handful or three of black tea (I’ve been using Assam from Smith in Portland)
- A handful or three of fresh mint
Throw all ingredients into a large jar or pitcher. Cover with water and let sit in the sun for a couple hours. Strain, season with lemon juice to taste, pour over ice and voilà!
DAVID GUREWITZ, chef, La Dive on Capitol Hill
Big shocker — working in a wine bar, I’ve been drinking mostly wine these days. I’ve been really digging the Rosato Terre di Marca, also the Calcarius Orange is super-popular with everyone and for good reason! Am I drinking more? Well, let’s say I’ve dabbled. But I stress that each individual should understand their own level of moderation, because alcohol can be a sort of emotional line of credit with really high interest rates, so to speak.
Creating cocktails has been a constructive and collaborative diversion at La Dive, and it’s been gratifying to be part of the process. We are offering a frozen drink right now called the Continental Breakfast, which is the perfect summer refresher.
- 1 ½ parts dry white wine
- 1 part pamplemousse liqueur
- ¾ part Aperol (Campari makes a great substitute)
- ¼ part grapefruit juice
Slush this up at home in an ice cream machine, or by storing it in the freezer and stirring it occasionally, but it’s also very good just served chilled.
BRIAN SMITH, owner, Baker’s in Sunset Hill
What a dumpster fire this is, indeed. Happy 2020.
For me personally, I am drinking a little more, albeit with a concerted effort to not get out of control. It has taken a conscientious effort not to overmedicate during a time of unbelievable uncertainty for our world and very specifically the hospitality industry.
As a purist, and often driven by the path of least resistance, I generally tend to enjoy mezcal (neat) or wine (naturally produced and cold — ’tis the season). If I’m mixing a cocktail for my wife and I, it’s generally some sort of negroni variation (again, ’tis the season).
We just rolled out a new cocktail list for the summer season at Baker’s. There are a couple that I’m in love with that emphasize nontraditional ingredients — this one’s got coconut water, which is very good for quarantine hydration.
One Won’t Do
- 1 ½ ounces Novo Fogo cachaça
- 1 ½ ounces coconut water
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- ¾ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
- ¼ ounce rich demerara syrup (see below)
- Grapefruit twist
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake to chill, fine strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the twist.
2:1 Rich Demerara Syrup
Heat 4 ounces of demerara sugar with 2 ounces of water over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, let cool and keep refrigerated.
I find that during the COVID crazy-times, I am reaching more and more for spritzes and sangrias — so I guess it is a lot the same as many other summers. Vermouth spritzes are one of my favorites, and I find that often sparkling rosé works so well with them. Recently, I have been adding a little Sipsmith sloe gin for tartness and backbone. They come out fruity and refreshing and are perfect for home or out.
- 1 ½ ounces Maurin blanc vermouth (though most blanc styles will work)
- ¼ ounce sloe gin (Sipsmith is what we use)
- 1 ½ ounces dry-style sparkling rosé
Combine ingredients in a wineglass. Top with soda. Garnish with seasonal berries or a citrus slice (or both).