Ahhh, spring is in the air. Green is back, flowers are blooming and farmer’s markets are in full swing. But that’s not all: your allergies are attacking, pollen is covering your car and inconsistent weather makes it hard to decide whether a tank top or a sweater is appropriate for the day. Need a way to celebrate the springtime joys and drown springtime woes? Seasonal cocktails are a great way to address both needs.
As proud Arlington residents know, our neighborhoods’ restaurant scenes are exploding with new options. The extensive bar menus that many of the establishments boast should not go unnoticed. As the warm weather rolls around, there’s nothing better than giving a nod to these liquid delights by sitting outside with friends and enjoying a nice beverage in the sun.
Winter cocktails were delicious in their own way – heavy on whiskey, dark rum, coffee liquors, and brandy. But it’s time to lighten things up. I decided to embark on a sampling of two Arlington bars, and to attempt to mix one cocktail at home.
1. First, I checked out the bar at The Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Boulevard). Mad Rose offers a delicious Cucumber Martini, $8. It combines vodka, cucumber, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and simple syrup in a low martini glass. Its simple mix provides a fresh, crisp cocktail that pairs well with spicy dishes and fish.
2. Next, I visited (4075 Wilson Boulevard) for a seasonal beer tasting with my husband. (All right, so it’s not one drink, but for the sake of variety, we tried a few.) Rustico has recently been ranked among the “Best 100 Places to Drink in the South” by imbibe magazine. Our waiter advised us on seasonal beers and we tried to work in some Virginia choices, naturally! We tried a flight of 5 brews and the results were good. I’m no beer connoisseur, but they were all tasty. They included:
-The Love from Star Hill Brewery in Virginia. It’s a hefeweizen, full of fruity spice.
-The Poet from the New Holland Brewery in Michigan – delicious, thick oatmeal stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee.
-Another Virginia delight, the Blue Mountain Lager, a pale lager. It was cool and crisp – definitively a spring beer.
-American blonde ale, Harpoon Summer from Massachusetts. This one was a classic American taste – clean and delicious.
-The waiter was most excited for us to try this Austrian import: Naturtrüb, a zwickelbier that had almost a creamy flavor with hints of honey. I loved this one!
The beers at Rustico are plentiful (they have 300 types of bottled beer and 25 on draught), and many of them change seasonally. It’s worth checking out again when summer rolls around!
3. And now, for my at-home attempt! Last month, I saw an ad for Absolut Wild Tea, elderflower- and tea-infused vodka designed for the spring season. I was intrigued, so I sought out a cocktail that would feature this new concoction. I found a collection of ten recipes devoted to Wild Tea at www.metrowize.com. I chose the Boston Tea Party. It includes:
1 part ABSOLUT Wild Tea
1/2 part Simple Syrup
1/2 part Orange Juice
Squeeze of Lemon
Samuel Adams Beer
Shake first 4 ingredients over ice. Pour into pint glass. Top with Samuel Adams beer. Garnish with orange wheel.
Results: delicious! Fruity, but satisfying and not too sweet. I was hesitant to mix in the beer because the first 4 ingredients were great by themselves, but the beer evened out the flavor a bit and cut the sweetness.
Whether you want to ring in the spring with flavor or use an adult beverage as an allergy fighter, these seasonal and free-spirited cocktails and brews just might do the trick. Pull up a lawn chair or post up on a local restaurant’s porch and enjoy. Cheers!
Want to mix up some of these spring treats for your friends but don’t have the stemware? The Dizzy Martini Glass at Crate & Barrel (2800 Clarendon Boulevard) is a steal at $1.98 a piece! http://www.crateandbarrel.com/dining-and-entertaining/martini-glasses/dizzy-cocktail-glass/s293431
The (2700 Wilson Boulevard) is hosting a 28-Day Challenge that begins May 3. This 4 week classroom-style series meets Tuesday nights at 7 pm. $30 per person. Space is limited! For more details or to register email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Sign up for cooking classes with Arlington Adult Education: https://registration.arlingtonadulted.org/ShowSchedule.awp?~~GROUP~FOOD~Cooking,+Food+&+Nutrition