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The New Vegetable Cocktails

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Garden Variety Margarita

© Courtesy of The Wayland
Garden Variety Margarita

While fresh-squeezed fruit juices have become common on serious cocktail menus, some of America’s best bartenders are turning to vegetables to incorporate seasonal and bitter components into their drinks.

A new spot with creative, vegetable-heavy cocktails is The Wayland in New York City’s East Village. “Most of the drinks I make come from the kitchen,” says owner-mixologist Jason Mendenhall. His refreshing Garden Variety Margarita was inspired by a cold remedy he creates at home, featuring kale and ginger juice.

For the bar’s version, he added smooth silver tequila, lime juice and agave; he serves the cocktail on the rocks with a rim of smoked sea salt. “I wanted to capture that vegetal component without scaring people away,” he says. Five days after opening, the vivid green drink became the bar’s most popular cocktail. Next up on The Wayland’s rotating drink list is a beet-juice-and-mezcal concoction, and Mendenhall is working on radish bitters as well as umami-packed mushroom bitters.

But The Wayland is not alone in trying to integrate fresh vegetables into cocktails. Here are some bars serving savory drinks to look for across the country.

Urban Union, Chicago: Recently opened, Urban Union makes a Celery Gimlet that goes down like “a cold cup of vegetable juice,” according to co-owner Jason Chan. It’s a little more complex than that, of course, and features house-made celery bitters, Hendrick’s gin, green chartreuse, St. Germaine, fresh lime juice, verjus (acidic, unripe grape juice) and a fresh celery stalk. 1421 W. Taylor St.

The Bent Brick; Portland, OR: This upscale neighborhood tavern is aggressively local, with all products, including spirits, coming from the Pacific Northwest. The Border Crossing cocktail combines a beet-based “shrub”—syrup typically made with fruit juice or vinegar—with apple brandy, smoked tea and black pepper.

Bar Congress, Austin: The Miso Mule is a Japanese take on a Moscow Mule that’s served in copper mug with crushed ice. Created by Portland transplant and bar manager Adam Bryan, the salty-smoky drink has 12-year-old Yamazaki whiskey, miso paste muddled with chunks of radish and honey, and tart Italian lemon soda.

Mateo’s Cocina Latina; Healdsburg, CA: This Mexican spot offers a seasonal Martini de Calabaza made with spiced organic pumpkin puree, cream and Reposado tequila.

Related: America's 50 Best Bars
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