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    Eat & Swig

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    Springtime calls for fresh ingredients, light flavors, and bright colors. It’s a time to spruce up around the house, recharge in the sun, and get growing in the garden, but who wants to do any of that empty-handed?

    We chatted up six local bartenders and found out what cocktails they feel pair perfectly with the spring season. Here are six cocktails to awaken and revive your allergy-dulled taste buds.  


    1. “The Paper Plane”

    Image: Butchertown Grocery
    .75 oz Bourbon
    .75 oz Aperol
    .75 oz Amaro Nonino
    .75 oz lemon juice
    Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel!

    This “light and refreshing” cocktail is a variation of “The Last Word.” It’s made with two Italian liqoeurs, Aperol and Amaro Nonino, which give this patio sipper it’s color and bright flavors. “I just love Aperol in the spring. It has such a bright presence with notes of orange, rhubarb, and grapefruit. The Amaro Nonino also has notes of rhubarb and orange peel, along with, herbaceous qualities,” says Nic Christiansen, bartender at Butchertown Grocery.


    2. “Tequila Radler”

    Image: Katie Molck
    1 hearty shot of tequila (2-3 oz)
    1 pint Steigel Grapefruit Radler

    “I’m not that big of a seasonal drinker,” says David Marquardt of NachBar, “I will consume all varieties of alcohol year round regardless of the temperature, but for all day spring drinking I’d have to go with a ‘Tequila Radler’.” Sure, it’s not a standard cocktail, but David says, “there’s still a mixing of fluids involved,” and hey, that’s good enough because the simpler it is, the faster it is to make and consume. “The tequila blends really well with the tart citrus flavors of the Radler. The Radler is low in ABV, so after I get to my high point of the day I just skip the tequila,” says David. So grab a lawn chair and post up on the lawn with a bottle of tequila and a couple Radlers for a an all day lawn drinking experience.


    3. “Bourbon Barrel Gin & Tonic”   

    Image: Celeste Downey 
    1 ½ oz Watershed Bourbon Barrel Gin
    ¾ oz house tonic syrup
    2 oz soda water
    1 fresh lemon and lime wedge
    Combine all ingredients, stir, and pour over ice. Garnish with lemon and lime.

    This twist on the classic is “light, balanced, and refreshing,” according Celeste Downey of Against the Grain. It’s the perfect Kentucky spring drink.  “You still get the botanicals from the gin just with an extra layer of vanilla and oak from the bourbon barrels, which pairs perfectly with the playful citrus zestiness from the house tonic,” Celeste says. The house made tonic is an important factor here. Celeste explains when you make it yourself the flavor is more assertive. She uses Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s, author of “The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique,” tonic recipe.


    4. "Hotel Nacional"

    Image: Eron Plevan 
    2 oz Rum
    1 oz pineapple juice
    ½ oz lime juice
    ¼ oz apricot or peach liqueur
    2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
    Dash of simple to taste
    Shake all ingredients together and double strain into a coupe glass with a floating lime wheel.

    Rum. Yum, yum! “I love rum cocktails for the sunny spring and summer seasons,” says Eron Plevan of 8Up. This classic cocktail hails from early 20th century Cuba and is “one of the most refreshing cocktails" Eron knows, so que the tiki bar music and get drinking. 

    5. “Oaxaca Gimlet”

    Image: Ashley Towning
    2 oz Fidencio 100% Estate Grown Agave Mezcal
    ¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
    ½ oz Cucumber, Basil, and Pineapple Sage Syrup*
    In shaker tin combine all ingredients to spec, add big, clean ice cubes, shake well. Double strain into coupe glass and garnish with Cinnamon stick shavings and a pineapple sage leaf.

    Citrusy, bright gin-forward drinks are usually Ashley Towning’s go to, but after the local mixologist’s recent trip to Texas, Mezcal has changed the springtime drinking game. “I’ve been playing around with Mezcal inserted into my favorite gin classics and it’s AMAZING,” she says. Ashley describes Mezcal as, “Tequila’s smoky, herbal cousin. It’s dense earthy flavors pair perfectly with citrus, light vegetal syrups, and spicy bitters.” Ashley’s riff on the classic gin gimlet is a springtime must.

    *Cucumber, Basil, Pineapple Sage Syrup
    In a shallow pot bring 2 cups of pure cane sugar and 2 cups of filtered water to a heavy simmer. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup chopped cucumber slices (skin included). Stir lightly. Add 1 cup fresh basil leaves, and ½ cup fresh pineapple sage leaves. Muddle all elements in the syrup lightly to introduce oils into the sugar. Let sit off heat for 30 minutes to 1 hour before straining.
    Syrup is good up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

    6. “Gin Punch”

    2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
    1 oz ginger syrup
    ¾ oz lemon juice
    Roughly an inch of crushed English cucumber
    Give it all a good shake and strain into a glass of ice with soda water, or even a cheap dry sparkling if your fizz needs to be fancier.

    A ginger drink from your favorite Garage Bar ginger. Jeremy Salmon looks forward to making huge batches of his famous Gin punch every spring. “I’ve got an old, crappy Gatorade cooler with a pour spout that I love to drag down to the park or a cookout,” he says. However, if you’re just drinking for one follow Jeremy’s more singular version.


    Cover Image: Celeste Downey 

    Katie Molck's picture

    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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