in partnership
Strawberry Sotol Highball at Espita.jpg
Strawberry Sotol Highball at Espita (Photo credit Espita Mezcaleria)

These seasonal cocktails put the "fresh" in refreshment

Right now really is the best time of the year to stroll through the stalls of farmers’ markets, isn’t it? Chefs are all but giddy with excitement at the selection of fruits, veggies and herbs. The DMV’s top bartenders are, too, making sure to allocate some of the baskets of berries, peaches, basil and mint for the shaker.

No doubt about it, these are the sips you’ll be coming back for all summer long.

Service Bar

The laid-back watering hole on U Street has a “Hyper Seasonal” section on its cocktail menu, so it’s not surprising that Chad Spangler and Glendon Hartley use the freshest ingredients in their creative concoctions all year round.

Right now, options include Apricot Iced Tea, which combines grilled apricot with Teeling Irish Whiskey, lemon and black tea; The Birds and the Bees’ Knees, where Calvados mingles with grilled apricot, honey and lemon; and Like a Vodka Soda, But Not, which shakes vodka with rosé wine, rhubarb and clarified lemon.

The bar also maintains a rotating regional menu, with liquid creations that pay homage to a particular area of the world. The current iteration is France, with libations like Rosé All Day, with strawberry, peach, clarified grapefruit and lime juices, rosé wine and Wild Foraged Gin. Au Pistou is inspired by the minestrone-style soup from Provence that’s made with fresh summer vegetables and beans. Wild Foraged Gin, English peas, basil, dill, pepper, lemon and Nasturtium flowers are served in a tea cup with the slightest chill, garnished with curly parsley and dill. It’s utterly slurp-able.

Ambar Clarendon

The Northern Virginia outpost of the vibrant, authentic Balkan restaurant (which also has locations in D.C. and Belgrade) just released its new summer cocktail menu, which includes three creative Smashes from mixologist Danilo Simic, each made with fresh fruit juice or seasonal ingredients.

Grab a seat on the 50-seat covered sidewalk and drink your way through the Cucumber & Gin, with gin, cucumber, basil, lime and soda; the Blueberry & Cachaça, with lime, honey, blueberry and cachaça, and the Lemon & Grappa, with grape rakia, lemon, mint and soda water. They are served over crushed ice that’s oh so fun to crunch as you sip.

Espita Mezcaleria

Beverage director Megan Barnes says the inspiration behind the Oaxacan restaurant and mezcal bar’s summer cocktail menu is the Spanish colonization of Mexico. “This season we're introducing spirits such as rum and sherry to our mezcal cocktails, which has allowed us to have a lot of fun,” she says. “If I were to describe this season's menu in one word, I'd say ‘whimsical.’” Strawberry Sotol uses another agave-based spirit from Mexico, and is served tall with strawberry and tarragon. Pound them on the patio while snacking on heirloom tortilla chips and figuring out which sals

Macon Bistro and Larder

General manager and beverage director AJ Johnson just released a brand new menu of seasonal cocktails. Her Clairvoyance is a Vodka Martini with an herbal touch. It stirs The 86 Co. Aylesbury Duck Vodka with Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters and Jorge Ordonez Botani Muscat that’s infused with fresh lavender and lavender blossoms and then reduced, served in a tall cocktail glass and garnished with a sprig of fresh lavender. “It’s clean, fresh [and] way easy to suck down several,” she says.

Le Bar at Sofitel

The new summer sippers at Le Bar at the Sofitel in Lafayette Square include St. Maxime Side, with Absolut Elyx Vodka, house made strawberry syrup, lime juice and basil, and Carte Blanche, with Plymouth Gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and peach juice. Oh! BEE-have mixes Belvedere Vodka, St. Germaine, grapefruit and lime juices with a reduction of kumquats and honey procured from their rooftop hive.