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Photos: James River Media

Stir Up Some Fun Beverages from Popular Local Restaurants

James Bond preferred his martini shaken, not stirred, Don Draper liked his bourbon in an Old Fashioned and Ernest Hemingway enjoyed rum mixed into a Mojito. Initially inspired by British punches, which contained spirits, fruit juices and spices in big bowls, cocktails have been an indelible part of American culture since the 1800s. 

The first definition of the drink has been attributed to New York editor Harry Croswell, who penned this colorful description in 1806: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters — it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” 

Cocktails rose in popularity with the availability of ice in the mid-19th century. Imagine a room-temperature margarita! Ice made spirits more palatable, and by the end of the century, most barkeeps had ice at their disposal. Prohibition put a damper on the ability to imbibe, but a post-war interest in Tiki culture started to rise in the 1930s when a man named Don Beach opened the first Tiki Bar in Hollywood. He was inspired by the Polynesian culture that he had experienced while traveling in the South Pacific, and shortly thereafter drinks with umbrellas were in vogue.

The craft cocktail movement spanning the aughts was characterized by a revival of traditional recipes and methods in the bar industry. Made with premium spirits, fresh juices, botanicals and bitters, the craft cocktail offered the “mixologist” an invitation to innovate. Today’s bartenders continue to elevate the art of mixing a cocktail. 

In its simplest form, a cocktail is a drink that mixes several ingredients, at least one of which is alcoholic, into one complete drink. The simplest cocktails contain just a few ingredients, while more complicated ones can have upwards of six or seven ingredients. 

Low-alcohol and no-alcohol (mocktails) drinks grew in popularity in 2022 and are projected to continue gaining market share in 2023 and beyond. They currently make up nearly $10 billion of value in top global markets. Today’s mocktails are more sophisticated than the pink sugary offerings of the past. During the past few years, there has been a proliferation of companies and online stores such as Curious Elixirs and Seedlip that make botanical non-alcoholic spirits with no sugar. Mingle Mocktails has garnered a lot of press lately with its sparkling, fruity and low-calorie mixed beverages available in cans or bottles. Here are some unique summer cocktails and mocktails being served locally by talented bartenders. 

Rosato Mio
With a bright rose hue, Ramazzotti Aperitivo Rosato is a fresh and fruity aperitif with special natural aromas of hibiscus and orange blossom. 

  • 4 ounces prosecco 
  • 2 ounces rosato Ramazzotti 
  • Chiffonade of fresh basil 

Add ingredients to a goblet with ice.

Italian Mojito Mocktail 

  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1 ¼ ounces simple syrup
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • ½ ounce sours mix (lemon and lime)
  • Splash San Pellegrino Limonata
  • Splash Soda water
  • Splash Sprite (optional)

In tin or glass, muddle lime, simple syrup and basil. Rinse tin with soda water and dump all components into goblet. Fill with ice. Top with sours mix, more soda water, San Pellegrino Limonata and a splash of Sprite for sweetness. (Beverage will be tart; Sprite is optional). Garnish with fresh lime wheel.

Peaches of Saint Tropez
Glass: Rocks (with ice)

  • ½ peach
  • ½ ounce honey
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce orange juice
  • 1 ½ ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce Campari
  • Rosé Wine

Muddle the peach; add honey and muddle again. Add the other ingredients, except for Rosé Wine, and shake with ice. Strain in glass over ice. Top with Rosé Wine. Garnish with a peach or orange wedge.

Blackberry Mist Mocktail

  • 1 ounce blackberry basil syrup*
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • Club soda


  • 2 cups blackberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water10 basil leaves

In a highball glass, add blackberry basil syrup and lime juice. Cover with ice and finish with club soda. Garnish with fresh lime wheel.

Combine blackberries, sugar, water and whole basil leaves in a small saucepan, and cook until the blackberries are soft and juicy. Press the berries to release the juice as the blackberries cook down a bit. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the blackberries have turned a bit purple. Let the syrup cool, and strain out the pulp from the blackberries. Store the syrup in the fridge.

Summer is the perfect time to perfect your own specialty cocktail or mocktail to serve guests at outdoor gatherings, dinner parties or wedding brunches. While you can probably get away with serving one singularly spectacular signature cocktail at your event, a well-stocked bar has the ingredients for options to abound. Just make sure you have plenty of ice!

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