Spring Mix

S pringtime—when what came in like a lion and went out like a lamb gives way to showers and flowers. When the sun shines longer and the wind blows warmer and color returns. And most importantly: when skinkers across the Elm City sling more tinctures and tonics starring fresh fruits and herbs, and the spice of last season makes way for the crisp of this one.

116 Crown invites you to join the Glitterati, a refreshing and generous concoction mixing gin and prosecco with lemon juice and crême de cassis. Salmon pink and served with a bright yellow-green slice of starfruit on top, it’s a delicate blend of citrus and fizz and booze, a refreshing balance of bubbly sweet and back-of-the-mouth bitter-smack.

Around a couple of corners, Ordinary conjures spring break in the tropics with a Summer in Fiji. A Pisco base with coconut water and house-made rhubarb-infused not-so-simple syrup, it’s finished with lemon juice and garnished with fresh mint. Shaken and double-strained, this is a uniquely smooth and hydrating blend. Its delicate taste allows the bitter rhubarb flavor to play with the sweet and almost creamy quality of the coconut water.

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Up Chapel Street, Heirloom’s cocktail menu is a collaborative effort by the whole bar staff. One of its concoctions is The Overnighter, featuring an infusion prepared, appropriately, overnight. Blackberries along with pears and apples from local area farms like Lyman Orchards are steeped with Brockman Gin, strained and combined with Aperol, Jack Rudy’s tonic and honey from Sugar Maple Farms in Lebanon, CT. The result is a not-so-sweet and crisp drink that retains plenty of each fruit’s flavors but melds them together deeply and warmly.

Across the street at Atelier Florian, to tide you over until its new spring menu takes hold (soon, they say), there’s a splash of summer in the Strawberry Basil Margarita. Featuring silver tequila, a subtle basil-infused simple syrup, fresh lime and a Grand Marnier-strawberry puree, the blush pink drink is garnished with basil and a super-sized lime twist. Sweet and substantial, it pairs well with the oysters on offer for happy hour, from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Soon to be featured on the spring drink menu are the “Verb and a Fraise,” featuring Oola organic citrus vodka with lemon Verbeena and fresh strawberry, and the Jalapeño Cucumber Margarita, which mixes a house jalapeño-infused tequila with citrus, cucumber and cilantro.

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Further afield is Oak Haven, featuring a rotating list of cocktails that’s seasonal because it has to be: drinks can change as often as every seven days. Currently, for a boozy break, you can hang out with the Bramblin’ Man, made of gin, lemon juice, blueberry and tarragon. Sweet but not too sweet, the berry flavor is balanced by verdant muddled tarragon and a lemon accent. If you’re the “whiskey-whatever-the-weather” type, the Back Pocket Rye blends a light lemon-ginger juice with James and Pepper Rye for a spicy but still-satisfying slurp that warms you up on a crisp spring evening. Both pair nicely with the ever-revolving selection of small plates, selected—like the featured cocktails—based on whatever produce is seasonal.

And so as not to neglect the increasingly numerous and devoted citizens of ‘Brew Haven,’ several bars are featuring springtime favorites on tap. At The Trinity, a new tap setup features 20 beers (including a refreshing Schofferhofer shandy) and a spring special gets you cheap cans of Black Hog’s Ginga’ Ninja or Lawson’s Double Session. At various spots around town, Sips of Sunshine are being soaked up, while Fuzzy Ducks have been floating now and then. Most recently the latter were sighted at The Outer Space and Three Sheets, where rumor is they swam off quickly but may be back soon.

Springtime—when it’s a little too brisk for a Tanqueray and tonic and a little too sunny for a Syrah, but a spirited cocktail (or two… or three), or a refreshing set of suds, is just the right mix.

Written and photographed by Amy Larkin.

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Amy Larkin is a museum junkie, idea factory and utopic contrarian who loves to look and believes fervently in the dictate "each one teach one." When not writing for Daily Nutmeg, she is starting a business to help individuals and businesses preserve and display their memories and taking too many photographs of her dog and soulmate, Bug.

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