Spirits are always in season––thankfully. Fruits, on the other hand, are best enjoyed during the season in which they ripen. Spring and summer bring us a bounty of fresh stone fruits and berries. Fall and winter fruits can be a ray of sunshine on a gray day. Of course, globalization and modern engineering have made it possible to find most fruits year round—either in the frozen aisle or imported from afar. But these usually can’t compete with ripe, seasonal produce.
Starting with the first sweet strawberries of spring through to the juiciest midsummer peaches and the plentiful fall harvest, slicing and muddling fresh fruit for cocktails brings your bartending know-how to the next level.
There's a world of difference between the grocery store strawberries you buy in December and the little wild berries available in the spring. These heart-shaped gifts of the season love being paired with basil. Muddle the fresh fruit and herb with lime juice, then add tequila, Cointreau and maraschino liqueur for a sweet, savory and oh-so-seasonal take on the Margarita.
The continental United States tends to be less aware of when tropical fruits are in season. Turns out springtime pineapple is like sunshine on your palate. The sweet, tart fruit gives your favorite minty rum cocktail an infusion of fruity flavor. The vanilla adds a floral edge for a colorful glassful that's like quaffing a tropical breeze.
Fresh ripe berries are often added to clear spirit cocktails. This rye cooler is a pleasant swerve, a drink that's hit with lime juice, blackberry-mint syrup and more mint before bring topped with ginger beer. It's a spiced, fruity, fresh drink optimal for summer sipping.
Summertime in the countryside: Birds chirping, flowers blooming and fresh blueberries in your cocktails. Think of this herbal mixture as a sophisticated, spiked summer lemonade. The berries impart color and sweetness, and the thyme offers fragrance. A drink for walking barefoot in the garden.
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Delicate and finger-staining, raspberries start to show up at the farmer's market in early summer. In this Irish whiskey cocktail, a couple of them are muddled with orange, plus fino sherry for a fruity sipper with surprising complexity.
Leaning in to the summer fruit theme, this twist on a Daiquiri uses Hendrick's gin, with its rosy and cucumber notes. But the crowning gems of the drink are homemade plum and cucumber syrups, each made with fresh produce. Did you know a cucumber is actually a fruit? You learn something new everyday.
Soft, sweet pears are an autumn indulgence. This lush cocktail blends fresh pear puree with with gin, elderflower liqueur and citrus, plus Champagne to top. It's floral and velvety with just enough effervescence to be celebratory.
This take on everyone's favorite equal-parts aperitivo uses segments of ruby red grapefruit, the sweetest (and, fun fact, most nutrient-packed) of all the grapefruit varieties. The winter citrus accentuates the bitter and bracing character of the cocktail. A sunny delight for a cold day.
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Rhubarb isn't exactly a springtime fruit––technically, it's a vegetable––but these tart stalks are made for baking into fruit pies and cooking down into tangy preserves. And rhubarb goes with sweet spring strawberries like peas and carrots. Take this tempting drink that can be made with either gin or vodka. Add Aperol, rhubarb syrup, lemon and strawberry juices and a splash of club soda for a tall, sparkling cooler.