Maybe that gin and tonic or Cosmopolitan you’ve enjoyed for years is beginning to taste tired. Choose one of these six exciting—and imaginative—cocktails to broaden your horizons.
According to bartender Mike Love, the Frozen Grape is Malabar’s “No. 1” specialty cocktail. Concocted with Three Olives Grape Vodka, Blue Curacao, Grenadine, sugar and fresh squeezed lime juice, it’s served chilled and “up” with a frozen grape garnish. “It tastes like grape candy,” says Love, “it reminds people of a Jolly Rancher. And, it just goes down so smooth and easy.”
1770 Prairie City Road, Folsom, (916) 608-0735; www.malabaramericancooking.com
Centro Cocina Mexicana
$8.50 (for one shot or in a specialty margarita)
Each week, mixologist Joel York is tasked with dreaming up a new flavor of the restaurant’s tequila infusions, creative and colorful alcoholic treats that customers drink straight as a shot or blended into a margarita. York chooses his flavoring, often a fruit combination such as coconut-passionfruit-banana, pineapple-red Fresno chili or the very popular blueberry-mango (“that one sold out in four hours!” he enthuses), prepares the fruit and pours tequila over it. The mixture steeps for two weeks and is then ready to serve. Some of York’s favorite flavors in the past have been a cucumber-mint (“very refreshing on a hot day”) and the apple-cinnamon, great for chilly weather. Customers generally have eight to 12 infusions from which to choose nightly.
2730 J St., Sacramento, (916) 442-2552; www.centrococina.com
Sweet Jalapeno Martini
Cocktails are a big deal at glamorous Crush 29, and customers are clamoring for the house-created “Crushtini,” made from vodka, guava and pineapple juices, and Chambord. The bartender drops a small cube of dry ice in the glass, which induces a misty fog to billow out of the drink. “People see that and say, ‘I want one!’” laughs bartender Misty Ledoux. Another briskly selling cocktail is the Sweet Jalapeno Martini. “I describe it as a cross between a Lemon Drop and a Kamikaze,” she notes, “It’s citrusy and tart, with heat from the jalapeño.” People are reticent to try one, she adds, but once they do, they’re hooked.
1480 Eureka Road, Roseville, (916) 773-2929; www.crush29.com
Blood Orange Margarita
Paragary’s Bar & Oven
Paragary patrons can’t get enough of the restaurant’s gorgeously colored blood orange margarita, a cocktail that’s been on the menu “for as long as I can remember,” says general manager Elisabeth Whiteside. The drink’s appeal, she speculates, is the uniqueness of the blood orange flavoring—“you don’t normally see much variety in margarita flavors,” she says—“our customers just love them.”
1401 28th St., Sacramento, (916) 457-5737; www.paragarys.com
Raspberry Jack Lemonade
Scott’s Seafood on the River
It’s always nice to dine at Scott’s Seafood, where you can sit outside on the patio and watch the river roll lazily by. The best cocktail to order when doing so, reckons bartender John Leclercq, is the restaurant’s bright pink Raspberry Jack Lemonade. Skyy Citrus Vodka and Triple Sec are combined with macerated raspberries in a pint glass, then doused with a hefty amount of fresh lemonade. “It’s the perfect drink on a warm day,” says Leclercq, “it’s so light and refreshing—it reminds me of summer.”
4350 B Riverside Blvd., Sacramento, (916) 379-5959; www.scottsseafood.net