High on the list of things that are better during summer—bike rides, peaches, long walks in Prospect Park—sits the herbal cocktail. Not only are the herbs fresher during these warm months, but adding them to your booze is a welcome complication to the bevy of margaritas and strawberry daiquiris that can't be avoided between tropical vacations and happy hours in the city.
It just so happens that many Slope establishments share my sentiment, and offer some mean herbal mixes to bitter-up any summer sweet streak.
Unsurprisingly, foremost on this front is our favorite organic, DIY joint . They have taken their infusion obsession one step higher with their special summer drink list, which includes The Chaperone— a chamomile-infused rum concoction with Nardini Bassoon Amaro, lime juice and gooseberry syrup. The pale, yellow drink is citrusy and subtle, a necessary $11 accessory to any meal. For those who really want to strangle their sweet tooth, the Rosemary Brooklyn is made of rosemary-infused bourbon, Noilly Pratt Sweet Vermouth, Luxardo Amaro Abana, and Luxardo Maraschino. It is also a sufficiently bitter alternative.
I know this isn't cocktail territory, but might I suggest a quick breather at ? Though the niche bar's menu changes so frequently that you're never quite sure what you'll get, it also never fails to incorporate unique herbs in many of its beers. I've had a delicious chamomile brew there, and owner Justin Phillips has been known to make a batch or two with ingredients like mugwart pulled straight from Prospect Park. Not a bad pitstop if the liquor gods have been unkind to you lately.
Heading two avenues down you'll find some excellent choices at . Rosemary's Baby, an $11 seltzer fizz of rosemary-infused gin, Cointreau, orange, and lemon, is probably the joint's most therapeutic drink. You could gulp this lip-smacking, citrusy cocktail down with a cold and not feel the least bit guilty. Likewise, the Basil Atkins, a $9 mix of Tito's Vodka, basil, lemon, and English Breakfast Tea, is a decently healthy Saturday kickstarter. Not necessarily the , but hey, nobody's perfect.
Closer to the heart of the Slope, you'll find just one herbal gem at . The restaurant's drink menu strays ever so slightly from it's Israeli roots with the Kansas, a $7 elixir of rosemary-infused vodka, lemon and thyme that would make Simon and Garfunkel proud. Just make sure to get it at brunch, their herbal vodka supply goes quick on sunny summer days and has been known to run out come happy hour.
Finally, if the weather's acting up and you're looking for some warm refuge in liquid form, head to the (yes! ) and ask the bartender for a Rooibos Tea Hot Toddy ($7). What's a better kick in the throat than a mix of honey, lemon, hot tea, and whiskey? Don't let the Rooibos fool you, it's a stiffer drink than you might expect.