Drinks for the Dog Days of Summer
by bill kearney
FROM LEFT: Piña colada from The Regent Cocktail Club, The Porch Swing from Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, and Miami Sunshine from Radio Bar
If there’s ever an impetus to pause, take a moment, and decompress, it’s the heat of a Miami summer afternoon. And few things aid in that process more than a perfect cold cocktail. Here, three of Miami’s top bartenders give Ocean Drive their best summer libation.
1.Piña Colada: “One of the things that we want to do at The Regent is bring integrity back to the blender—it’s been bastardized by people filling it with artificial flavors. At The Regent, we offer piña coladas with 100 percent pure ingredients: unsweetened coconut milk, a little bit of coconut cream, fresh pineapple, and really good spiced rum. We also offer it with a floater of Campari and pour it in a tall pilsner glass with a small opening, so the air doesn’t get to it. It’s a great summer drink because it’s frozen.”—John Lermayer, head bartender, The Regent Cocktail Club, Gale South Beach. Arguably at the top of the heap when it comes to high-level bartending in Miami (he prefers not to call it mixology), John Lermayer aims to bring classic cocktail culture back to the city.
2. Miami Sunshine: “ It’s essentially like a deconstructed Arnold Palmer [iced tea and lemonade]. We make unsweetened tea and freeze it into one-inch cubes. Then we combine vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup, shake it, strain it over the tea ice, top it with soda water, and garnish with mint. As the ice melts, it starts adding the tea flavor to the drink, making it an evolving cocktail that’s refreshing, clean, and crisp. It also has ingredients that make you think of summer lemonade stands and having iced tea on the porch—certain memories. The ability to draw a memory out of a guest as they consume the drink adds to the experience.”—Craig Schoettler, beverage director, Radio Bar and Menin Hotels. With a cooking background (he has a BS in the culinary arts), Craig Schoettler bring layers to his drinks.
3. The Porch Swing: “I flipped it to have bourbon and ginger [instead of gin and cucumber]. We lightly muddle the ginger and fresh papaya, add the juice of half a fresh lemon, honey, and bourbon, then shake. It’s a nice balance of sweet and citrus, and the bourbon is sort of heavy, so you almost have to sip it slowly. It goes with robata grill items. It’s a big, boozy slow-sipper, so you can eat a few things, sip it, and cleanse your palate a bit.”—Jamal Giles, head bartender, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. Having come to bartending while studying art in New York, Jamal Giles has been with Sugarcane since it opened in 2010.
photography by andrew meade; shot on location at sugarcane raw bar grill