Kyle Fengler describes his cocktail menu at the Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant as ephemeral. “It changes weekly, sometimes daily,” the head bartender explained. “It’s dependent on the season, the availability of ingredients and what I’d like to highlight. I also try my best to complement the kitchen, which changes just as frequently.” This ever-shifting approach is solidified by a steadfast philosophy: “I’m constantly looking to push the boundaries of flavor and texture and tie in culture and history with new approaches. A core goal of mine is to get guests to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.” One way Fengler does this is through riffs on traditional recipes that are just as thirst quenching as the originals.
Inspired by a traditional South American cocktail, the pisco sour, this twist stems from Fengler’s time in Patagonia. There he developed a fondness for the earthiness of yerba mate, as well as the aforementioned libation. This riff is based on the Paraguayan custom of drinking yerba mate from cups made of hollowed oranges. “I decided to pair the two flavors in a pisco sour, enhancing the character with both fragrant fruit and earthiness.”
The Aviation is a little-known classic that flies under the radar more often than not. “But it’s one of my favorite gin cocktails, showcasing the flavors of the gin in a refreshing manner that still ends up being a spirit-focused composition.” Blue Skies pushes the classic further in the direction of bright and refreshing by adding brighter botanical notes, dry floral character from the violet and a crisp acidity with the lime.
The classic minty mojito is tough to be improved upon. Fengler’s take on the rum-based cocktail amps up the refreshing factor when poured over ice on a summer day. “One of my favorite ways to enhance the character of a cocktail is with a tea-based infusion. Hibiscus is a fruited and fragrant flower and pairs exceptionally with the mint as well as being complemented by the natural sweetness of the rum.”