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Warm Weather Indulgences of the Alcoholic Kind

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- Fruity. Smoky. Barrel-aged. Do these adjectives evoke thoughts of cocktails?

They will now, as mixologists across the country tap their creative juices to whet appetites with some mouthwatering spirits during this warm-weather season. TravelsinTaste has sought out the fruity and fabulous to have on your cocktail radar for when the moment strikes you.

A hidden fruity gem lies in New York City's The Surrey. That's where you'll find the Thaijito, a cocktail featuring rum, fresh lemon, mint, Thai chili and lemongrass. Also on the Upper East Side, you'll be able to savor The Saigon Crush, an abstract concoction (and, made with passion fruit seeds and mandarin vodka, one with a deceivingly smooth demeanor) of fruit and liquor served at executive chef Cornelius Gallagher's Dragonfly. JBird mixologist Marshall Altier, meanwhile, has focused on this year's rum trend with his Daisy de Obeah, made up of Denizen rum, lime juice, cane syrup and Velvet Falernum.

In Chelsea, mixologist Jenny Castillo playfully combines fruit and herbs in her Apricot Sage at Cafeteria, with fresh sage leaves, lemon juice, vodka, apricot puree and simple syrup.

Salinas' general manager, Lauren Carroll celebrates her chef, Luis Bollo, with the Matador combining Mescal, Passion Fruit Puree, fresh sour mix, chili simple syrup and celery puree. "The matador was inspired by Chef. We like to joke that chef is the matador in the kitchen dealing with all the bulls but at the end of the day he's very easy to get along with. The matador cocktail is one of a kind but very easy to drink for guests who love margaritas and mezcal," Carroll explains.
The rum-based Daisy de Obeah cocktail is served at JBird on New York's Upper East Side.

Next is Southern Florida, an area known for its focus on fresh fruit. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar's bartender T.J. Palmieri serves The Scarlet O'Hara, a spicy concoction of bourbon, strawberries, aperol, lemon juice and simple syrup with a dash of Tabasco sauce. Edge, Steak & Bar's Ginger Brickell is Malibu Black 70 proof with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, free-squeezed lime juice, coconut water and three sprigs of mint. Beverage director Josh Nadel of The Dutch, Andrew Carmellini's wildly popular Miami restaurant in the W South Beach, serves the Indigo Smash, a concoction of Banks 5 Island Rum, smashed blueberries and citrus with an absinthe rinse. He also barrel ages his spirits: His Barrel Aged Cocktail #3 is Original Moonshine white whiskey, Bluecoat gin, Dolin dry vermouth, Cocchi Americano, Mandarin Napolean Orange Liqueur and artisanal bitters -- like his others, a perfect thirst quencher for those steamy Miami evenings.

Farther west, at graham elliot in Chicago, beverage director Rob Miezio mirrors his chef's redefining cooking style by redefining cocktails. His Man's Best Friend is a delectable combination of Koval white rye, kiwi, yellow chartreuse and, surprise, honey!

Asian and Cuban flavors infuse California. In Los Angeles, Asia de Cuba's namesake cocktail is a delightful tribute to fusion and fruit with cantaloupe pisco sour, pisco, fresh lemon, muddled cantaloupe, cane syrup and egg white. Drago Centro's head bartender, Jaymee Mandeville, has cocktails that inspire with fruit, veggies and more -- including mushroom bitters, chamomile-infused honey and peppercorns. Our favorite, The Night and The City, playfully mixes Hayman's Old Tom Gin, Bittermens Hellfire, Miracle Mile Candy Cap Mushroom Bitters, heirloom tomato shrub, black pepper and squid ink syrup with fresh horseradish. On the other side of town, Cecconi's bar director Chris Ojeda's cocktails stand alone over pure ice. His Negroni tickles the tastebuds with Bombay London Dry Gin, Campari and a blended and rebottled mixture of Martini Rossi & Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth.

"This classic cocktail is prepared in a unique method where the drink is thrown from tin to tin. This method gives the drink a little aeration akin to shaking a drink like a daiquiri. The juniper and other citrus botanicals of the gin shine thru and the bitters in the Campari make this cocktail refreshing," Ojeda explains.

Vegas drinks not only pair well with the creations of a James Beard Award-winning chef; some are even organic. Valentino, at the Venetian focuses on refreshing Italian classics for pairing with chef Luciano Pellegrini's cuisine. The Santa Pera, made of Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germain and lime, accents the pear flavors of his Ravioli di Stracchino. The pear in the Grey Goose and the hints in the St. Germain are tempered with the tart, fresh lime.

Looking for organic with a bit of smoke? The Mirage has the answer. The Smoke & Zen combines deep smoky flavors from the combination of Bruichladdich Organic Islay single-malt whiskey and Momokawa organic "Nigori" sake in this robust cocktail.

Indulge Away!

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