Five hot new Sacramento summer cocktails

Because nothing beats triple-digit heat like a good buzz

Jameson Alexander is a great name for a bartender-and he mixes pretty refreshing drinks, too. Shown here is LawBrau’s Cherry Cask, with German kirschwasser schnapps.

Jameson Alexander is a great name for a bartender-and he mixes pretty refreshing drinks, too. Shown here is LawBrau’s Cherry Cask, with German kirschwasser schnapps.

Photo by wes davis

The nighttime weather of a Sacramento summer is intoxicating. Almost. You’re going to need a little help from some of the city’s finest liquor magicians to get all the way there. Luckily, they’ve been planning some new, seasonal drinks that are impeccable complements to the Delta breeze. Behold refreshing, boozy concoctions that are creative takes on old standbys—and one that’s not necessarily summery (duck-fat cognac!), but is a must-try anyway.

Whatever your predilection, Sacto’s bartenders have something to help you kick back and laugh about the insane string of expletives you yelled after getting into your sunbaked car earlier in the day. Ω

Jameson Alexander

Tends bar at: LowBrau, 1050 20th Street

Drink: Cherry Cask

Ingredients: Barrel-aged gin, kirschwasser, sweet vermouth, sugar, lemon, bitters

If this drink was a song, it would be …

“Easy” by Lionel Richie. I really have no idea what any of the lyrics are besides “easy like Sunday morning,” but for some reason, it was the first thing that popped into my head and, actually, it really fits.

How'd you come up this drink?

We wanted to use authentic German schnapps, and we chose kirschwasser, a fruit brandy made from distilled cherries. We tried a million combinations before I enlisted the help of Ben Moore, one of our amazing hired guns, and we finally dialed it in by keeping it simple. I can’t speak for Ben, but I was inspired by spite. I couldn’t let the schnapps win.

What's so special about German schnapps?

It’s nothing like the schnapps most people are familiar with. Authentic schnapps are made from distilled fruit. The result is a very simple, beautiful spirit.

Lauren Steele

Tends bar at: Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., 1630 S Street

Drink: Mariner’s Revenge

Ingredients: Monkey Shoulder scotch, sage-infused honey, Angostura bitters and orange bitters, garnished with a lemon twist and a sage leaf

What's up with the drink's name?

It’s a song by the band the Decemberists. The title seemed fitting because of Scotland’s history of importing used bourbon, rum and sherry barrels through maritime merchant trade routes that they used for aging their “whisky.” The drink shares both sweet and bitter qualities, lending itself to the substance of revenge.

How'd you come up with it?

My favorite cocktail of all time is a scotch old fashioned. I wanted to impart some floral qualities to the cocktail by replacing the sugar with honey. I added some sweet citrus with orange bitters and paired the peat with an earthy sage.

Travis Kavanaugh

Tends bar at: Shady Lady Saloon, 1409 R Street, Suite 101

Drink: Duck Dynasty

Ingredients: Duck-fat-infused cognac, house-made Berryessa Brewing Co. IPA liquor, house-made vanilla truffle-oil Angostura bitters

So, duck fat?

I was watching Iron Chef America, and a lot of places are using bacon fat in cocktails, but we have a lot of duck fat here.

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co’s Lauren Steele says her Mariner’s Revenge cocktail is peaty and earthy, with citrus and floral qualities.

photo by wes davis

Why's it special?

It combines my two great loves: food and liquor that push limits.

If the drink was a song, it'd be …

“Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones.

Vince Bowen

Tends bar at: Blackbird Kitchen & Bar, 1015 Ninth Street

Drink: Tarragon Slinger

Ingredients: Aviation Gin, tarragon, fresh-squeezed lime juice, house-made simple syrup, soda water

How'd you come up with it?

I was bartending in Santa Barbara at the time. A sous chef approached me with an ingredient I was none too familiar with—tarragon. As I was always inspired by the beautiful weather in Santa Barbara, I wanted to make something refreshing and a spin-off of a mojito. Hence the lime, simple syrup, soda. I felt it was a well-balanced cocktail and kept it in my trusty bag of tricks.

What's so special about it?

It’s a clean, well-balanced drink that uses good, fresh ingredients.

If this cocktail was a song, it would be …

Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love.” Why? Not sure.

Scott Martin

Tends bar at: The Press, 1809 Capitol Avenue

Drink: Lennon/Lenin

Ingredients: Strawberry-infused vodka, strawberries, Thai basil, lemon juice, agave nectar, reduced balsamic vinegar

What's with the name?

“Lennon” after John Lennon and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Lenin” for the color red.

What's so special about this cocktail?

Our guests love it, and they appreciate the effort we put into our cocktails.