It might not feel like it, with temperatures pushing past 100 degrees, but summer is winding down.
The sun is setting a little bit earlier. Back-to-school shopping is in full effect. And, like it or not, the first day of class is right around the corner.
Still, it’s officially summer until Sept. 22. And we’re likely to have hot – or at least warm – weather and sunshine well into next month.
Celebrate the season while it lasts with these summer sips. Here are eight cocktails to savor before the end of summer.
Tiki Crush at Twigs
You’ll want to dive right into this drink, which is the color of the Caribbean or a cerulean swimming pool. It looks as inviting as it is refreshing, particularly as temperatures soar into the 90s and, like last week, beyond. The lovely light blue color comes from a splash of blue curaçao. But most of the flavor comes from pineapple rum. Twigs’ Tiki Crush tastes tropical. But the sweet-tart fruit flavor isn’t overwhelming. This drink is neither cloying nor mouth-puckering. Along with blue curaçao and pineapple rum, the Tiki Crush features pineapple sour and lemon-lime flavored Sierra Mist soda. It’s garnished with a cherry and slice of lemon. And it will make you feel like you’re poolside or at the beach. “It’s fruity and refreshing,” said Twigs’ regional operations manager Kiana Kaaha. “I don’t think it’s too sweet. It’s good. It quenches your thirst. It goes down easy.” Twigs has three locations in Spokane and one in Spokane Valley. Find them at www.twigsbistro.com.
Kirei on the Way at Umi Den
The recently opened lower-level lounge at Umi Kitchen and Sushi Bar in Kendall Yards specializes in Japanese whiskeys, sakes and craft cocktails featuring Asian-inspired flavor profiles. Kirei on the Way, on the seasonal summer menu, is representative of the bar’s repertoire, philosophy and summer itself. It’s made with plum wine, accentuated with plum bitters, and rounded out with orange liqueur, lemon juice and peach puree, which adds a gentle sweetness and light fruit flavor. The thing that makes it super-refreshing, though, is the house-shaved ice. That’s right: Umi Den has a shaved-ice machine. It sits right on the bar. You can watch it spin from a seat at the counter. Kirei on the Way, reminiscent of a punch or tiki drink, was created by bartender Kristy White. “It’s got a nice balance of sweetness,” said bar manager Colleen Early. “I think the plum wine and plum bitters relate to the overall Asian inspiration behind the restaurant and the bar. And the shaved iced is pretty unique. I’m not sure anyone else is doing shaved ice in Spokane. It definitely fits in for the summer.” 1309 W. Summit Parkway. (509) 368-9372. umispokane.com.
Via Vita and Coming Up Roses at Luna
Bartender Jake Via has worked at Luna for six years, since he was 18. It was high time he had his own drink on the menu. And he’s hoping Via Vita becomes his signature libation, much like Patrick Kasper and his Patrick’s Passion cocktail. Kasper hasn’t worked at Luna for a couple of years now, but patrons still ask for it – and for him. Now, they have the Via Vita to consider. Via found a recipe he liked, then tweaked it until it was even more to his liking. Cody Winfrey, a longtime Spokane bartender who recently started working at Luna, changed it even more. The end result is bright and fresh and grapefruit forward. Freshly pressed citrus – lime as well as grapefruit – is tempered with honey and bitters. Vodka is the main ingredient. A little Lillet Blanc rounds it out. “I was going for a nice refreshing cocktail, like coming off the golf course, nothing too boozy so you can have two of them,” Via said. Winfrey has a new offering, too. It’s an updated version of a drink he concocted about a year ago called Coming Up Roses. This recipe is less sweet and more complex, akin to chilled glass of rosé. He replaced broVo’s Rose Geranium liqueur with rose-infused gin, added a splash of Lillet Blanc and dry vermouth as well as raspberry drinking vinegar. The result is a bit tart and dry and acidic with a hint of citrus. The floral notes come on at the finish, and they are subtle. These rose petals won’t punch you in the face. “I wanted something cold and crisp,” Winfrey said. “I avoided heavier notes. Imagine a rose martini.” 5620 S. Perry St. (509) 448-2383. lunaspokane.com.
Mojito at Bistango Martini Lounge
Bistango, a downtown staple since 2005, is known for its martinis and wide selection of mixed drinks. This time of year, the No. 1 seller, said owner Reema Shaver, is the mojito. She has six on the menu: classic, pomegranate, mango, pineapple, passionfruit and strawberry. “They’re refreshing,” she said. Her favorite is the pomegranate, made with POM Wonderful pomegranate juice “so it’s not sweet, and that’s what I like about it.” The other four fruit-flavored mojitos are made with fruit puree, which includes added sugar and are sweeter than the classic and pomegranate options. Shaver serves her mojitos in crystal Riedel tumblers, which hold nearly 20 ounces. “It’s substantial,” she said. “They’re all double.” She buys mint during the winter months, when mojitos remain among her top three sellers. But, during summer, she grows her own in numerous varieties: lemon mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and peppermint. “You don’t know what you’re going to get,” she said. “You get different flavors.” 108 N. Post St. (509) 624-8464. bistangolounge.com.
El Guapo and Stalin’s Estate
at Volstead Act
This contemporary downtown bar, named for the law that launched Prohibition, specializes craft cocktails made with house-pressed juices and house-made syrups. Two of the top-selling libations for summer are the slightly spicy El Guapo and strawberry-lemon Stalin’s Estate. Both, said general manager Jake Schreiber, are “somewhat unique and approachable.” He compared El Guapo to “a spicy cucumber margarita. It has a subtle hint of spice. And it’s extremely fresh. It’s a good balance of tart, sweet, fresh and spicy.” It features tequila, fresh cucumber, fresh lime juice, Cholula hot sauce, simple syrup and a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper. The hot sauce gives the drink an orange tint. “We can throw in Sriracha or muddled jalapenos if people want to kick it up,” Schreiber said. El Guapo is garnished with a cucumber round and lime wedge. Simple syrup with a touch of balsamic vinegar gives Stalin’s Estate its purplish-pink color and adds a hint of acidity and complexity. So does fresh lemon juice. The vodka-based drink also features fresh muddled strawberries. In fact, it’s garnished with a whole strawberry and lemon twist. “The balsamic vinegar gives it that zing that everybody loves,” Schreiber said. 12 N. Post St. (509) 808-2516. volsteadactspokane.com.
Park Lodge Cucumber Cooler
at Park Lodge
Have a seat in one of the Adirondack chairs on the patio at Park Lodge and cool off with one or two of these vodka-based libations. Garnished with cucumber and mint, the Park Lodge Cucumber Cooler is light, refreshing and only gently sweet. Lime gives it a bit of brightness. Soda adds effervescence. “The cucumber and mint really work together and kind of give the illusion that it’s air-conditioned, which is really nice when it’s 105 degrees in Spokane,” said Park Lodge bartender Mitch Gordon. “It’s a nice, light and balanced cocktail. It’s got as much bright as it does cool, which makes it kind of dangerous to consume. It goes down very easy.” 411 N. Nettleton St. (509) 340-9347. parklodgerestaurant.com.