Poor blighted fruit. First, it had to suffer through the indignations of the bastardized cosmopolitan and the ubiquity of vodka crans. Then, when the cocktail revolution swept the United States, strawberries, kiwis, and the like were muddled willy-nilly with the kind of abandon previously reserved for lime and mint. Finally, change is afoot. Fruit, after all, holds a vaunted position in the annals of classic drinking. Before Prohibition, minimally processed fruit syrups were fixtures of a variety of drinks, including punches, daisies, and juleps. Even when fruit was not an ingredient, it was often a garnish, as with the Sherry Cobbler, a simple concoction of sherry, sugar, and a hillock of shaved ice, finished with berries and citrus.
Contemporary bartenders are resurrecting these nearly forgotten drinks, proving that fruit is essential to many a standout beverage. Produce-mad San Francisco might be the epicenter of the movement. At Heaven's Dog, bar manager Erik Adkins has compiled a tight list of traditional drinks, many of which feature the handmade fruit syrups of his colleague, Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods. Shrubs -- traditional infusions using fruit and either liquor or vinegar -- are also having a resurgence: When Comstock Saloon opens this spring, Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin will be making their own seasonal shrubs.
Brooke Arthur, bar manager of Range, might use more seasonal fruit for her cocktail list than anyone else. 'I live, eat, and breathe fruit in cocktails,' she says. She knows, though, that balance -- as with all sweet ingredients -- is key. In some ways, she is also a fruit missionary. Two famously fruit-suspicious East Coast bartenders visited Range not so long ago, and Arthur introduced them to a blood orange for the first time. Fruit, meet your future.
Sexing The Berry: Three Fruit-full Cocktails
1. Gunshop Fizz
2 ounces Peychaud's bitters
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
3 cucumber slices
3 swaths of orange peel
3 swaths of grapefruit peel
Add all ingredients except the Sanbitt'r to a mixing tin. Muddle thoroughly and let stand for two minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Shake hard with ice, and double-strain over fresh ice in a collins glass. Top with Sanbitt'r and garnish with a cucumber slice.
Adapted from Kirk Estopinal, Cure, New Orleans
2. Trenchtown Daisy
1 1/2 ounces Appleton
Estate V/X rum
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce gum syrup
1/2 ounce raspberry gum syrup
Splash of soda water
Add lemon juice, gum syrups, and rum to ice in a mixing tin and shake vigorously. Double-strain into a chilled coupe. Add a splash of soda water.
Adapted from Erik Adkins, Heaven's Dog, San Francisco
3. Heart Burn
3/4 ounce Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka
1 ounce fresh blood orange juice
3/4 ounce Aperol
Shake all the ingredients except the champagne in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a champagne flute and top with champagne. Garnish with a long ribbon of grapefruit peel.
Adapted from Brooke Arthur, Range, San Francisco