Food

Our 10 Best Last Sips of Summer

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Oh, how quickly Labor Day, signaler of summer’s end, approaches. The back-to-school commercials are airing repeatedly on television, and mannequins are donning fall clothes in store windows. And while the temperatures may be beginning to drop, you can still catch a taste of sunshine in some of the summery beverages served at restaurants around the city. You know, those cooling juices and spritzers that evoke long afternoons at the beach. And while summer to you might mean piña colada, we’ve gone nonalcoholic here, celebrating the truly refreshing. While the city’s many juice bars fit the bill, we’ve gone for drinks served at restaurants and shops for Our 10 Best Last Sips of Summer.

10. Blackcurrant Soda at ABC Kitchen: One of the many homemade sodas available at this organic restaurant (basil-lime, cherry-lemon, spring herb, etc.), this drink is a lot like the British drink Ribena, only better because it’s all-natural. Sweetened black-currant juice is added to bubbly seltzer for one delicious, fuchsia-colored summer sip. 35 East 18th Street, 212-475-5829

9. Arnold Palmer at Má Pêche: A quintessential (and often difficult-to-enunciate) summer drink, the Arnold Palmer combines lemonade and iced tea to tasty results. While it’s not quite interesting enough of a drink to make it on its own on this list, we’re giving props to the one at Má Pêche because the lemonade is actually made with calamansi, a Filipino citrus fruit, and the iced tea is jasmine-flavored. Add the two together, and you’ve got one fine glass. 15 West 56th Street, 212-757-5878

8. Beet and Lemon Shrub at Russ & Daughters: Quite possibly the prettiest colored drink in town, this magenta thirst quencher is made with vinegar, rendering it lightly tart, but with a hint of sweetness. A splash of fresh lemon juice adds additional acidity, and a lovely beet aroma accompanies every gulp. Old-school beverages never seemed so cool. 179 East Houston Street, 212-475-4880 7. Sorrel Drink at the Islands: Who would have thought to put sorrel in a drink? Not us, but we’re hooked after trying the one at this Caribbean eatery. The super-dark drink is gingery and sweetened with a touch of honey, while possessing a floral flavor reminiscent of hibiscus or maybe even rooibos. It tastes, appropriately, like tropical islands. 803 Washington Avenue, 718-398-3575

6. Coconut Juice With Young Coconut at Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli: Yes, it might be more fun to actually drink out of a fresh coconut, but this $3 tipple from the banh mi peddler is the next best option. Unlike crappy boxed coconut water, this juice always tastes fresh and is always ice-cold (but ice-less). Plus it’s full of gelatinous slivers of coconut meat, perfect for snacking after you finish drinking. 369 Broome Street, 212-219-8341

5. Watermelon Juice at Fatty ‘Cue: Is there a fruit that recalls summer barbecues more than watermelon? Perhaps not. And so what better to pair with Asian barbecue than slightly Asiany fresh watermelon juice? At Fatty ‘Cue, chunks of watermelon are pureed and mixed with sugar, lime juice, and kaffir lime leaf. One word: yum. 91 South 6th Street, Brooklyn 718-599-3090 4. Switzel from City ‘Lasses at Smorgasburg: For those days when the sun is sizzling and the sweat is dripping from your forehead, cool down at Smorgasburg, the new food-centric market in Williamsburg. The switzel, a recipe of yore, is made with blackstrap molasses and has a touch of bitterness. It can be bracing at first, but is ultimately super-refreshing. 27 North 6th Street, Brooklyn

3. Spring Tomato Lemonade at Rouge Tomate: At first the thought of tomato water in lemonade sounded a bit odd, but we have to admit we’re taken with the cooling qualities of this $8 drink. It works because tomatoes and lemons both have acidic flavor profiles. Add in a touch of basil and club soda, and you’ve got one refreshing summer quencher. And if you still can’t get behind tomato, Rouge Tomate has a bevy of other nonalcoholic beverages worth trying. 10 East 60th Street, 646-237-8977

2. Peach Punch at Left Bank: At this West Village newcomer, there’s no better way to cool off than with the peach punch. An extremely large ice-filled glass brims with fresh peach juice and seltzer, topped off with just a touch of honey. Whereas most peach juices tend to be cloying and thick, this one’s nothing but light, summery, and delicious. 117 Perry Street, 212-727-1170
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1. Modern Punch at the Modern: Made with equal parts white peach, blood orange, and lychee nectars, plus white cranberry juice and just a splash of ginger beer, this salmon-hued, $7 drink is like a Planter’s Punch, only without the rum. The ginger beer adds a tiny hint of spice, while the other juices add significant body. This drink is made for sipping, ideally while watching the sun set over the ocean, or, rather, after waiting on line at MOMA for an hour. Simply put, it’s summer in a glass. 9 West 53rd Street, 212-333-1220

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me @ldshockey.

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