Refreshing Drinks from Brooklyn’s Finest

A collection of reengineered classics, improved versions of simple summer cocktails, a beguiling blender drink and a spicy-soothing sipper for keeping cool. Some recipes are more ambitious than others, but on the hottest, laziest days of summer you can always skip the shaker and worship at one of these watering holes in the city of churches.

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Beach Crawler
Bartender: St. John Frizell
Venue: Fort Defiance


Fort Defiance owner St. John Frizell describes his creation as, “Like a Porch Crawler but tiki-ish.” To the uninitiated, a Porch Crawler is a not-so-classy drink usually made with vodka, light beer and frozen canned lemonade concentrate, named for the fact that after drinking it you’ll have to crawl up your porch steps to get in the house. To the basic DNA of the drink Frizell added the fruity/tobacco-like rooibos tea, pineapple and cinnamon syrup to add sophistication, but he serves it in an ice-filled wine glass as a nod to its roots. A Mason jar would work just as well.

2 oz Sion Kölsch Beer
1 oz vodka
¾ oz lime juice
¾ oz pineapple juice
1 oz brewed rooibos tea
1 oz cinnamon syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Pineapple and orange slices for garnish

Pour beer into an ice-filled wine glass. Combine lime, pineapple, tea, vodka, syrup and bitters in a shaker over ice and shake. Strain into glass over the beer and garnish.

Brancolada & White Negroni Sbagliato

Brancolada & White Negroni Sbagliato

Bartender: Jeremy Oertel
Venue: Donna

This bracing piña colada variation owes its flavor to Branca Menta, the minty, sweeter version of Fernet Branca. The drink has proven so popular at Donna that creator Jeremy Oertel hasn’t been able to take it off the menu since opening in 2012. To keep things interesting, they also serve it as a variation of a Miami Vice (half piña colada, half strawberry daiquiri) called a Milano Vice, with a strawberry Negroni making up the other half. At home, make the Brancolada in a shaker and strain it over ice, or break out the blender to whip up a creamier incarnation.

1 oz Branca Menta
1 oz Appleton V/X
Jamaican Rum
1 ½ oz pineapple juice
¼ oz orange juice
¾ oz coconut cream (3 parts Coco Lopez to 1 part coconut milk)
Mint spring and orange wedge for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, shake liquid ingredients with a few pieces of ice, then strain into a blender. Add all ingredients and blend with ice and pour into a hurricane glass. Add garnish.

White Negroni Sbagliato
Bartender: Toby Cecchini
Venue: Long Island Bar

Long Island Bar co-owner Toby Cecchini describes this drink as, “Nothing too terribly esoteric, but it’s just a simple, lovely, low-alcohol cooler that I put on the menu as a whim but people are lapping up.” The drink’s popularity is no great surprise given its lineage: The Americano (sweet vermouth, Campari, soda water) was the precursor of the Negroni (with gin in place of soda), which was modified into the Negroni Sbagliato (with prosecco in place of gin). Cecchini’s variation of the Sbagliato replaces the bright red liqueur Campari with the golden gentian-root aperitif Suze. The Persian cucumber? Cecchini says this unique addition is not just for visual effect—its strong aromatic properties tie the drink together.

1 oz Suze
1 oz Carpano Bianco Vermouth
4 oz prosecco
Long, thin slice of Persian cucumber and a twist of orange peel or a sprig of thyme for garnish

Add liquid ingredients to a glass containing a large ice cube, top the drink with prosecco. Garnish.