Serious Eats: Drinks

Summer Drink Recipes: Crystal Beach from Cotogna in San Francisco

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[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

Sometimes we get in a summer cocktail rut. There's nothing wrong with a refreshing gin and tonic or a pitcher of fresh and fruity margaritas, but when August rolls around, it's time to call in for more inspiration. We turned to the bar manager at San Francisco's Cotogna for tips. He goes by the name 'Buffalo', and he's got a few delicious drinks up his sleeve. (He honed his chops at cocktail hotspots like Beretta, Alembic, Rickhouse, and Bourbon and Branch.)

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When we asked Buffalo what cocktail ingredients he's into right now, we expected some crazy new vermouth or extra-rare bitters, but he answered simply: "Opal basil." The bright purple leaves, sometimes mottled with green, the vivid aroma..."It's super beautiful," he says. He uses it to crown a cocktail sparked by childhood nostalgia, named Crystal Beach after the Canadian amusement park he visited as a kid.

"At this amusement park, there was a drink in the slushie fountain called Loganberry. It was totally just red sugar water, but Loganberries are an actual berry, and there's now a liqueur made with it from Clear Creek Distillery," said Buffalo, though for now he uses Fair Goji Berry liqueur in this rye-based refresher. He describes the cocktail as "a childhood flashback with adult things going on. It's easy-breezy, all about the berries and basil."

He dials back the sweetness with lemon juice and lightens the cocktail by topping it off with a few ounces of spicy ginger beer and a big bunch of aromatic basil. If you can't find the goji berry or loganberry liqueurs, you can also try this recipe with raspberry liqueur.

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Crystal Beach »

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.

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