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5 Herbal Cocktails for Summer 2018 Menus

Our restaurant consultants look for the best on-trend cocktails for your summer menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - May 17, 2018

The temperatures continue to rise in Denver; our contacts in New York City are making preparations to head east to Montauk to the beaches; in Nashville, the kids are celebrating the final days of school. Though spring seemed to come and go in a blink, summer is here. 

Hopefull you've dusted off that patio furniture and you've opened up your restaurant's outdoor spaces. Likely, you're switching over your food menus to accommodate all of that delightful summer produce that's starting to roll in. And while we were very pleased with all the floral notes of spring's cocktails, our restaurant consultants are really excited about what's happening to happy hour menus for summer.

To spruce up your summer drinks, think herbs, bitters, and if you're willing, straying from the typical sugary, fruity drink. Popular drinks are going to have savory notes and draw on herbal components and natural flavors. Here are five spice options and a few recipes to include them.

1. Thyme. Thyme isn't a typical drink herb, but it certainly is easy to grow and use. Thyme can be smooth and subtle and great for pairing with citruses or other sour fruits, like in this Thyme + Key Lime cocktail from Sweet Paul or Bon Appétit's Rasberry-Thyme Smash.

2. Rosemary. A warmer spice, we see rosemary in a lot of winter dishes, but it's exactly what mixologists are looking for to drive cocktail flavors into more savory categories. A Lemon + Rosemary Sour would be an easy, but unique undertaking; and a Rosemary Cucumber Gimlet screams "summer" as much as a single drink can.

3. Ginger. Our restaurant consultants are finding a ton of ginger options on drink menus these days. There are health benefits affiliated with the root, and it's a biting flavor that's becoming more and more popular. It could be as simple as amping up classic drinks with fresh ginger instead of ginger ale--like this Dark 'n Stormy. Or, trying your hand at this True Food-inspired Ginger Margarita.

4. Basil. Basil is probably the perfect herb for summer--it's fresh and reminiscient of warm, Mediterranean climates. So why not bring it into your summer drinks. Take refreshing options and make them even fresher, like a Cranberry Basil Spritzer, Basil Limeade, or Thai Basil Sangria.

5. Cilantro. Did you think we'd say mint last? Well, anyone can make a traditional mojito. Surprise your guests with a cilantro mojito instead! Or for something exceptionally bold, how about a Spicy Cilantro Moscow Mule from Fork + Knife Love!

What are you doing to turn up the heat on your cocktail menus this summer? For assistance in menu development, or other restaurant business questions, contact a restaurant consultant today. 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash