We checked in with Beauty & Essex bar manager Beate Kiser to see what she's shaking and pouring this summer. The Lower East Side lounge and restaurant, styled like a glam townhouse, has played host to celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rutherford, Ashley Olsen and Minka Kelly.
This summer's best cocktails taste light and call for fresh ingredients, she says. And when fruit is used, it should be subtle, not overwhelmingly sweet.
Here, Kiser shares cocktail recipes that are perfect for July 4 weekend and all summer long:
Honeydew isn't a fruit that we easily get excited about, but we have to side with Kiser on this one: It's just right for the Honey Bea, a refreshing gin cocktail that also has lemongrass and honey. "I've always loved honeydew," Kiser says. "It's a really, really light fruit and it doesn't have a huge flavor profile, but I think the gin really plays with it nicely." If you don't want to drag out the blender to puree the honeydew, just muddle the fruit well, she says.
Muddle lemongrass. Add remaining ingredients, shake, strain and serve in a martini glass.
This marg has so many good things going for it, we're not sure where to start. Habanero-infused tequila gives it heat, but mango soothes the spiciness and makes it easy to sip. And then, there's mint leaves that give the drink an unexpected zing. "It's really great to have something that's a little spicy but also refreshing," Kiser says.
Tear up mint leaves. Add remaining ingredients, shake and serve on the rocks.
Traditionally, a gimlet is a straightforward mix of gin and lime juice. This variation is a tasty twist on the original, and you might never go back. Here, vodka takes the place of gin, and muddled basil adds freshness, making this classic an effortless summer cocktail. "It stands out with very few ingredients," Kiser says.
Muddle basil with ice. Add remaining ingredients, shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a piece of lime.
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