There’s one sure-fire way to refresh yourself in the summer heat: Fill a glass with ice and your favorite beverage, then tip the cup to your lips and let the chilly concoction cool you from the inside out. Lucky for you, local mixologists, bar chefs, and other flavor scientists have been experimenting to bring you the best in refreshments, alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike.
Your Best Boozy Bets
Wild Hibiscus Royale and Jolly Piño Mojito at Bar’Lees
(914) 630-7512; barlees.us
Unable to find the Wild Hibiscus Royale served in his native Australia, owner Colin Goundrey has brought it here himself. A wild Australian hibiscus flower soaked in cane sugar syrup is left at the bottom of a Champagne flute and topped with reserve Cava, causing the flower to open over several minutes—after which it is meant to be eaten. The flower is a thing of beauty, sensuous á la Georgia O’Keeffe, its syrup reminiscent of raspberry and rhubarb. The cocktail, light and not particularly sweet, boasts a subtle floral fragrance and a gorgeous hot-pink color, and is served with a lemon twist.
Another excellent selection is the Jolly Piño Mojito, the jalapeño-basil Mojito you didn’t know you wanted. It’s made with muddled basil, lime, and jalapeño pepper (you say how much), lime/lemon simple syrup, Bacardi Silver, and lime juice, topped with 7UP (of all things), and garnished with lime and a sprig of basil that bartender Dennis bruises with a dramatic slap of his hand—summer in a glass. The basil gives the traditional fresh mint leaves a run for their money, its scent penetrating your nose as you drink, unexpectedly reviving you and probably doing wonders for your respiratory system as well.
Port Chester Reviver at bartaco
(914) 937-8226; bartaco.com
Cucumber cocktails abound these days, but the Port Chester Reviver truly lives up to its name, and the fact that you’re drinking it on a riverside deck at a beach-themed, party-friendly taqueria makes it that much more refreshing. Made with Martin Miller’s Gin, mango nectar, lime juice, and cucumber, sporting fresh mint leaves and a rolled-up cucumber slice, this foamy cocktail is the beverage equivalent of getting lucky, especially if you have a thing for gin. The sweetness of the mango plays against the coolness of the cucumber, lime, and mint, and the cucumber garnish is, well, larger than the others we’ve seen.
The Concord at Crush Wine Bar
(914) 834-6600; crushwinebars.com
Crush’s riff on the Caipirinha, The Concord, is made with Concord grapes—a refreshing change from the usual. The grapes are muddled and mixed with Riesling, Puerto Rican rum, raw sugar, and a bit of lime, and garnished with skewered Concord grapes and a long twist of orange rind. Its beautiful, mottled purple reflects the plush violet decor of this intimate wine bar itself.
Desert Rose at Taiim Cellar
(914) 723-6900; taiimcellar.com
On a sultry summer night, Middle Eastern food aficionados will enjoy the Desert Rose, a transporting blend of Dos Lunas Reposado tequila, orange-blossom water, lemon juice, raspberry preserves, and Angostura bitters. Foamy on top, with a floating twist of lime zest, it does fruity and flowery—dare we say girly?—without being cloying.
French Breeze at Bistro Rollin
(914) 633-0780; bistrorollin.com
Layers upon layers of citrus enliven the French Breeze, like a Mimosa on overdrive—including orange-flavored vodka, Aperol (a lighter take on Campari), Lillet citrus liqueur, orange juice, and seltzer. Ablaze with orange and garnished with a large orange slice, it’s a lovely way to lighten up a mood and a meal.
The Rosemary Clooney at Gleason’s
(914) 402-1950; gleasonspeekskill.com
The Rosemary Clooney is a blend of house-infused rosemary gin, homemade cucumber-basil simple syrup, tonic water, and fresh lime, making for a cool, cosmopolitan cocktail that is not shy about its rosemary but doesn’t come on too strong.
Bottle Rocket at Restaurant North
(914) 273-8686; restaurantnorth.com
One idea behind the carbonated cocktail craze is that the bubbles bring the scent right to your nose—one of the many elements that make Restaurant North’s Bottle Rocket perhaps Westchester’s most refreshing cocktail. It starts with a heavenly house-made vodka infused with Buddha’s hand citrus, which—as a chalk diagram behind the bar shows—is carbonated along with fresh mint, North Fork Vespaiolo wine, and Lillet aromatized wine, and bottled in-house. You get the summer moment’s pleasure of twisting open the bottle and pouring it over a tall glass of ice bearing a lemon wedge and fresh mint. This drink can run out quickly, as evidenced by our snagging the last bottle during lunch.
Drink It Dry
Nimbu Shikanji at Taj Palace
(914) 437-5900, tajpalacewp.com
Move over, lassi: Indian lemonade Nimbu Shikanji, with hints of ginger and flecks of muddled mint, is the drink to cool off with in the summer heat. Made in-house, the secret recipe involves a special Indian salt, giving this lemonade a flavor all its own.
Rainbow Ice at Saigonese
Half-dessert, half-beverage, traditional Rainbow Ice is offered at this new Vietnamese restaurant—one of the few in Westchester—and if you’ve never tried it before, you’re in for a treat. Looking like a parfait, it arrives in layers of red kidney beans and mung beans, gummy-worm-shaped strips of green jelly, coconut milk, and crushed peanuts over ice, which you mix with a spoon and sip through a straw (when able).
Cold-Brewed Coffee at Coffee Labs Roasters
(914) 332-1479, coffeelabs.com
No better place to get your coffee geek on than here, where all coffee served over ice is cold-brewed, a slow method yielding a sweeter, less acidic cup that’s lighter and perfect for summer. For a standout experience, try the variety that’s cold-brewed in the big Kyoto drip setup behind the counter, filtered through a porous ceramic disk for 12 to 24 hours. You might even love it black.
House-Made Soda at Village Dog
(914) 909-9000, villagedogtarrytown.com
This hipsturbian hangout offers three house-made sodas sweetened with raw sugar: ginger ale, orange, and a seasonal soda that trends toward berry and citrus in warm weather. The ginger ale beats the pants off Canada Dry, with the unmistakable flavor of fresh ginger and slightly less aggressive carbonation.
Root Beer at Pumpernickel
(914) 479-5370, pumpernickelrestaurantardsley.com
Did you know that Westchester’s own Captain Lawrence Brewing Company also makes root beer? It’s true, and you can only try it at one place: Pumpernickel, Ardsley’s comfort-food-oriented restaurant. The brainchild of Pumpernickel partner Alan Breindel, who set out to recreate the old-fashioned root beers of his youth, it’s made using Pumpernickel’s secret recipe and served on tap from a keg. Rich with notes of trees and roots and spices (birch? vanilla?) and sweetened with cane sugar, it’s creamier and more flavorful than commercial root beer.
Juice Along the Sound Shore
For the adventurous, El Tesoro II (Port Chester 914-937-2086) is where to find the juice of marañón, or cashew apple—the pulp of the fruit that grows around the nut. It has a mild tropical flavor with a musky overtone—and five times more vitamin C than oranges. Los Chuzos de Juancho (Port Chester 914-481-1340; loschuzosdejuancho.webs.com) keeps eight different tropical fruits on hand for juicing, including passion fruit and soursop, which you can get sweetened or unsweetened with milk or water added. At El Tumi (New Rochelle 914-813-0444), try chicha morada, a traditional Peruvian drink that’s made with purple corn and looks and tastes a bit like grape juice.
Tea Lemonade at Silver Tips Tea
(914) 332-8515, silvertipstea.com
This connoisseur’s tea house, cozy and unfussy, ices its entire selection of 100+ teas all year long. Take out the Tea Lemonade, subtly sweetened and available with any choice of tea—with its perfect balance of tea and lemonade, you’ll be sipping it throughout the day to stay cool and sane.
If these fail to quench your thirst, you can always have a Croton Cocktail, named after New York’s first source of clean water: Chill a glass, fill with tap water, enjoy.