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Donna's Strawberry Sky © Craig Cavallo / Serious Eats
Bartenders who love in-season strawberries for their bright, floral flavor and gorgeous color, are now debuting complex spring cocktails with contrasting ingredients like chilies, egg whites and vinegar. At Donna in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, bar manager Jeremy Oertel pairs the fruit with tequila and serrano peppers in the Strawberry Sky. “The drink was an experiment to see how much strawberry flavor I could get into a cocktail,” Oertel says. “So many times when you put strawberries in things the flavor is really mild, and it doesn’t express itself.” His solution was to infuse strawberries into a shrub, a vinegar-based syrup. He mixes chopped berries with cilantro, two serrano peppers and apple cider vinegar, then lets the mixture soak for three days, strains the liquid and adds sugar. The result is a sweet-tangy shrub with lots of warm strawberry flavor and a spicy finish. To make the pale pink cocktail, Oertel shakes the shrub with blanco tequila and a touch of agave. It's strained over ice in a rocks glass and garnished with a slice of strawberry. Here, more bars across the country with delicious strawberry drinks.
The Corner Door, Los Angeles
For his Lickable Wallpaper cocktail, bartender Beau du Bois quickly infuses sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica or Dolin Sweet) with fresh strawberry puree by vigorously shaking the mixture for three minutes. To finish the drink, the infusion is shaken again with bonded bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, lemon juice and simple syrup, then strained into an absinthe-rinsed coupe.
LARK on the Park, Dallas
The globally-influenced restaurant’s Strawberry Porton mixes fresh muddled strawberries with Pisco Portón, housemade pineapple syrup, lime juice and an egg white. The cocktail is first “dry shaken” without ice so that the egg white can form a fluffy meringue, then shaken again with ice to chill it. Served in a coupe with a strawberry slice, the cocktail is finished with three drops of Bitterman’s Hellfire habanero bitters.
Tongue & Cheek, Miami
This new restaurant serves The Walking Dead, a variation on a Bloodhound—a classic 1920s cocktail made with pureed strawberries, gin, dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. Bar manager Josh Morrow uses Death’s Door Gin for its mild, crisp juniper flavors and replaces pureed strawberries with freshly muddled, locally-grown strawberries. The cocktail is shaken and strained into a rocks glass filled with ice and rimmed with a housemade dehydrated strawberry powder.
King + Duke, Atlanta
The just-opened wood-fired-focused restaurant serves a strawberry cocktail called The Yearling (inspired by the novel of the same name). Florida strawberries are muddled in a mixing glass then topped with Bulleit bourbon, Rhubarb Tea liqueur, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. The sweet and tart cocktail is double strained into an old fashioned glass over ice.