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Sipping for Summer 

The cocktail queens of downtown suggest seasonal drinks

Cori Hamilton, owner of Velvet

Qualifications: "I've been in the restaurant industry for 21 years, bartending for 18. My last few jobs were the old Astro Lounge & the Grove in Bend. I also spent a lot of time in fine dining/bartending in Vail, Colo."

Summer drink philosophy: "The main focus of opening Velvet was to create a comfortable/homey space for our friends & family to hang out, drink, socialize, enjoy music, laugh, have fun. Drink inspiration comes from a lot of' markets, Colima market, and eclectic bars in Portland, traveling, grabbing random fruit, veggies & juices & working with them. Visiting the liquor store frequently to see what's new & working off of that. Summer drinks to me are light, easy drinking, fresh squeezed."

Cori's favorite summer drink: "Chamomile lemonade...we infuse some Crater Lake vodka with chamomile and mixed it with our house-made lemonade and a little green tea...perfect for sitting outside in the sun. Another one on our menu that has been a super popular one is our camping cocktail."

Popular summer drinks at Velvet: "The Camping Cocktails is one of our most popular. We have a house-made hops and grapefruit vodka that we mix with fresh grapefruit & chamomile...topped off with a PBR. It's a play on the popular Steigl Radler that everyone orders with a vodka shot float. Our mate cocktails are easy drinking and light—which always makes a popular summer drink— and Moscow mules in the copper cup, which keeps the temp of the drink perfectly chilled."

Favorite ingredients for summer cocktails: "Whatever we can find at the farmers' market, tart juices and herbs like thyme and basil."

Phoebe Pedersen, owner, Dogwood Cocktail Cabin

Qualifications: "I've been a bartender for 14 years. I started cocktail bars in Portland and own the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Crested Butte, Colo."

Summer drink philosophy: "Our concept is whatever you can grow in your garden you should be able to put on your table and in your cocktail. For me it's anything, any herb any fruit. The farmers' market has been a real joy with all the berries! Last week I got marionberries and made a drinking vinegar. Those are great because you can have them non-alcoholic or put them in alcohol and can be put in salad dressings and marinades. It works best with apple cider vinegar,. You get a container, fill it with berries and cap that with the cider and let it sit for five days. Stir each day and when you're done and you feel like it's got full flavor, you strain it and reduce it with sugar. It feels like a syrup, but it has that wonderful pungent vinegar. A lot of cocktails and foods now focus on the Japanese concept of umami (the fifth taste element other than sweet, sour, bitter and salty, sometimes called meaty). There are things that elevate your senses. Vinegar falls into that really well. It's good for your body and it elevates your palate."

What to make at home: "When I go to a garden party I think Sangrias are awesome to have out because they're lighter in alcohol so people can sip on them during the day and not get blotto. You can pick any fruits and herbs and put them in there together. I like doing it with sake. It's something different and sake goes great with Asian flavors, cucumber, lemongrass, ginger, but you can throw any berries in there and they pick up really nice, too. Sake adds a little saltiness. People that have gardens usually have mason jars. With a mason jar I always do vodka because it's a water flavor basically, or you can do sake or white wine. I would go through the garden, pick mint or basil to set in there or any fruit you get at the farmers' market and let the flavors sit in the alcohol. It can just be for 24-hours if you're having a party. The best thing to always have around is simple syrup (50:50 hot water and sugar, cool in the fridge) and lemon and lime."

Popular summer drinks at Dogwood: "My go-to is the Rosebud which has muddled strawberries, rose water, vodka and champagne. All of our margaritas are great for summer and they all have their own wonderful personalities.

Go with gin and tequila in summer. We also have the Vera Aloysius with aloe juice, tequila, apple and cucumber. It's really summery and light."


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