The Eleven Best Spring Cocktails in NYC, 2015


Goodbye to all that wind and snow, those sleeping-bag coats, the salt-stained boots. We’re declaring a moratorium on winter now, thank you, and embracing the fact that it is, by the calendar, anyway, spring. And for the warm days — or for the days when your body needs a little more convincing that cold weather really is on its way out — there are these drinks, the eleven best spring cocktails in NYC, 2015 edition.

Spring Daiquiri at Saxon + Parole (316 Bowery, 212-254-0350)
Have a look around menus right now, and you’ll likely spot a number of dishes sporting peas. The humble vegetable is one of the earliest signs of changing weather — it’s one of the first vegetables to reappear in the markets after months of root vegetables and greenhouse lettuce. The bar staff at Saxon + Parole embraces this seasonal olive branch by tossing it into a daiquiri with Cana Brava rum, lemon-thyme cordial, and citrus juice, and serving it in a glass rimmed with tarragon salt. The snap pea gives the tart porch-pounder a soft, verdant edge. — Laura Shunk

Summer negroni at Dram (177 South 4th Street, Brooklyn; 718-486-DRAM)
Negronis are great no matter the season — they’re light enough for the sweltering heat of summer, yet warming in the winter. Plus, the bitter bite is ideal for helping open the palate and the appetite. Williamsburg’s Dram gives the cocktail an upgrade that’s just right for the soon-to-come heat. The Summer Negroni mixes Aperol and Dolin Blanc vermouth with classic building blocks Beefeater gin and Cocchi Americano, and garnishes the drink with a grapefruit twist. It’s not always on the menu, but if you ask, the bartenders will come through. — Sara Ventiera

Perfect Gin and Tonic at the Highlands (150 West 10th Street; 212-229-2670)
Composed of Caorunn Scottish gin, tonic, and cucumber ice cubes, the Perfect Gin and Tonic is the perfect spring cocktail to rouse imbibers from the harsh winter. As the drinker savors the beverage, the ice cubes melt: a reminder that a crisp, lush, revitalizing green awaits after the thaw. — John Luong

ALL CAPS at Roberta’s (261 Moore Street, Brooklyn; 718-417-1118)
This alluring elixir evokes the pristine, pine-imbued essence of springtime in the high Alps. As vibrant in the nose as it is on the tongue, ALL CAPS relies on muddled rosemary and Zirbenz — an aromatic Swiss liqueur — to play with the spicy American rye at its core. Before it fades from view, the finish delivers a wisp of sweetness, courtesy of ripened stone fruit. — Brad Japhe

Gold Rush at Extra Fancy (302 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-422-0939)
Bees, fruit, and backyard patios are all a sign that spring is alive and well in Brooklyn. And bourbon? Well, like a crisp white button-down, some things are appropriate no matter what the season. Enter Extra Fancy’s Gold Rush. While this classic cocktail is available year-round, there’s something particularly pleasant about sipping it outdoors as the weather warms. Here, the bartenders use Basil Hayden’s bourbon as the base, and mix it with chamomile-infused honey syrup and fresh lemon. It’ll make you think about all the things you can do now that your snow boots are in storage. — Billy Lyons

Negroni Royale at Virgola (28 Greenwich Avenue, 212-330-6565)
A spot-on negroni in itself is a beautiful thing, but when the weather turns a bit warmer, I like the classic lightened up a bit. At Virgola Wine Bar, the Negroni Royale retains the deep bitter tang of a negroni, but is lightened up with grapefruit bitters and Virgola prosecco, which is incredibly refreshing. Altogether, it makes for a bright, clean, crisp cocktail that goes down too easily but still has personality. — Jacqueline Raposo

El Chamuco at La Contenta (102 Norfolk Street, 212-432-4180)
La Contenta partner and head bartender Alex Valencia is from Guadalajara, so he basically has agave running through his veins. And at his new LES bar and restaurant, you’ll find agave in every iteration — including options beyond tequila and mezcal. Valencia wants to expose New Yorkers to the beauty of things like raicilla and pulque, but it’s one of his introductory drinks that’s best for spring: El Chamuco is a mix of tequila blanco, mezcal, creme de cassis, homemade ginger beer, and lime juice. The combination is light, refreshing, complex, and smoky, all at the same time. It’s a thing of beauty. — Sara Ventiera

The Puck at Chefs Club (275 Mulberry Street, 212-941-1100)
OK, so pear is a winter ingredient, sure. But what better way to toast the end of the season than with this vibrant meditation on the fruit? Bourbon and bee pollen combine with the nectar for a lightly sweet sipper that’s a nice way to start or end a night. A dusting of black pepper finishes the drink, which adds effervescence and heat on the palate. We’d like to see more black pepper in drinks — like our gin-and-tonics. — Laura Shunk

Walcott Express at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-335-0446)
With its opaque, vivid green hue, the Walcott Express doesn’t just taste like spring — it looks like it. Just in time for derby season, this mint-infused cocktail doubles down on freshness with Sapin 55, an esoteric spirit known for punchy herbaceousness. Reining in this earthy foundation are tart overtones of lime cordial and the lush, lingering sweep of Germain-Robin, one of the finest brandies in the world. It awakens the senses as life returns to the foliage. — Brad Japhe

Link Ray at the Happiest Hour (121 West 10th Street, 212-243-2827)
The best cocktails of the season showcase spring’s abundant produce. Jim Kearns, head bartender of the Happiest Hour, also throws in a touch of New York nostalgia so that you can blame your wistful tears on seasonal allergies. His Link Ray, which references Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray, a divisive celery soda brewed here in New York, coaxes the ribbed vegetable’s sharper notes out with a French bitters called Suze. Patrons can customize their drink with gin, rhum agricole, or jalapeno-infused tequila. And while you can’t pair it with a pastrami sandwich, the kitchen serves a deli-ready smoked-fish dip and a righteous double-patty cheeseburger (or a hefty single grass-fed version for the same price). — Zachary Feldman

Moon for the Misbegotten at Montmartre (158 Eighth Avenue, 646-596-8838)
Step into your own personal Belle Époque, perched on a barstool at Montmartre, with a glass of Moon for the Misbegotten: a fresh coupe of calvados and mezcal, bright with lime and resonant with spice. Sprightly enough to remind us that summer is coming, dark enough to warm our winter-shriveled souls, the whole concoction is shaken with egg white for a mellow foamy top that convinces you that la vie probably is belle after all. One sip: Paris in the spring. — Katherine Knowles

Archive Highlights