- Courtesy of Alex Lewis
- House of Má's Alex Lewis uses black pepper and Topo Chico to give an extra kick to a cocktail inspired by the classic Eastside.
But let’s be real: any of these drinks would be great to enjoy later in the day as well.
Alex Lewis, a bartender at downtown’s much-anticipated House of Má, brunches with a refreshing take on an Eastside cocktail she dubbed the Midtown Swing. Generally thought of as a modern-day Gimlet with the addition of mint and cucumber, Eastsides are refreshing warm-weather favorites. Lewis, however, steps her version up with the savory addition of cracked black pepper.
“The ingredients make for a fun, easy-drinking cocktail that’s good for picnics and brunch because it’s not overly sweet,” she said.
The black pepper and Topo Chico take this classic to another level for springtime sipping.
4-5 cucumber slices
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce mint simple syrup (See recipe below, or just add 3-4 fresh mint leaves)
Fresh-ground black pepper
Muddle cucumber slices in shaker, add gin, lime juice and mint syrup or mint. Shake vigorously and strain into rocks glass over ice. Top with Topo Chico and freshly cracked black pepper.
Mint Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Combine water, sugar and mint in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for one minute. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar through a mesh strainer to remove mint leaves and let cool.
Texas Wildflower Gin and Tonic
Maray McChesney, co-founder of San Antonio-based startup Bexar Tonics, offered up a different spin on the springtime favorite gin and tonic. Not surprisingly, it involves her company’s Texas Wildflower syrup, one of three concentrated tonics it produces for cocktail use. The floral addition brings new depth to the classic one-and-one cocktail.
“This tonic is kind of our nod to a Texas spring road trip,” McChesney said.
While lavender is the most recognizable note of the Texas Wildflower syrup, it also contains butterfly pea blossom. Commonly used in teas, the blossom not only adds to the earthy, floral properties of the drink, but enhances its beauty by changing color from blue to a raging fuchsia with a squirt of lime juice.
Texas Wildflower Gin and Tonic
2 ounces gin
1 1/2 ounces Bexar Tonics Texas Wildflower syrup
Fill a Collins glass with ice. McChesney suggests crushed ice, if you have it. Add gin and syrup to glass and top with Topo Chico. Add a squeeze of lime.
SA-based Ranch Brand’s Straight Bourbon is the star of this Fancy Free cocktail — essentially an Old Fashioned livened up by Maraschino, a bittersweet Croatian liqueur flavored with Marasca cherries.
“Everyone can build this cocktail, and it will add another component, Maraschino, to a home bartender’s repertoire,” Ranch Brand co-owner Chris Ware said. “That one new ingredient will translate into a myriad of other cocktails, so I think everyone needs a bottle of Maraschino.”
1 1/2 ounces Ranch Brand Straight Bourbon
1/2 ounce Maraschino
1 dash orange bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice in a rocks glass until blended. Top the glass off with more ice. You don’t need a garnish, but a cherry wouldn’t be out of place.
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