The arrival of summer means barbecues, pool parties, movie blockbusters and the return of hit TV shows such as “Stranger Things” on Netflix, but if you’re someone who likes to hit the bars with your friends it also means a new slate of seasonal cocktails at many establishments.
And if you’re wondering just what some of the season’s drink trends are, look no further. Mixologists from three Southern California casinos shared what’s on trend.
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Fresh and Fruity
Nick Hirsch, mixologist for Pechanga Resort Casino near Temecula, said that summertime cocktails this season will focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.
He said citrus is commonly used in drinks year-round, but it really gets to shine in summertime cocktails as do other ingredients such as berries, melon and even vegetables like cucumbers and beets.
Hirsch said fruits such as berries and citrus work particularly well in common summertime favorites such as mojitos and margaritas and those will remain surefire bets for the summer.
Some examples of recent drinks that Hirsch has devised include a handcrafted margarita with hibiscus syrup and fresh squeezed citrus and a watermelon mojito at Great Oak Steakhouse, and a mixed berry mojito at Coveside Grill.
Terry De La Rosa, a mixologist at The Steakhouse at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs, said she’s finding similar success with garden-based ingredients, noting that two of the most popular drinks she’s serving right now are a cucumber martini and a tangerine and ginger margarita.
Low alcohol options
Those fruit and vegetable flavors also work with the increasingly popular category of low alcohol cocktails and mocktails, Hirsch said.
“In my time I’ve found that the summertime ingredients, things like those melons and berries that have their own inherent tartness and sweetness to them, they’re much easier to work with and design a well-balanced spirit-free cocktail offering,” Hirsch said.
“Guests can enjoy something light and refreshing and crisp.”Nick Hirsch, mixologist for Pechanga Resort Casino
De La Rosa said mocktails might be picking up steam now, but they’ve long been a popular option at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs. She said she mixes different flavored juices to create something reminiscent of a cocktail, but without any of the alcohol.
“I never knew the terminology but we’ve always had that,” she said. “I’ve always had virgin mojitos and virgin margarita-flavored margaritas … but there have always been nondrinkers that want to taste that flavor.”
The rise of gin
If the idea of an alcohol-free cocktail sounds like a whole lot of nonsense to you, you can always go for something gin-based.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California seems to be planning accordingly. The resort’s lead casino beverage manager, Grace Skarra, wrote in an email that Harrah’s is “forecasting gin to be next big thing.”
Gin and tonics are already surging elsewhere. Marks & Spencer, a British company that produces a canned gin and tonic, reported seeing sales of the cans shoot up 24 percent following an episode of comedy “Fleabag” which had two of the characters drinking them. Sales and exports of UK Gin surpassed $2.6 billion for the first time in the 12-month period between June 2017 and June 2018, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.
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