Eat This Tonight: Fizzy cocktails and light nibbles 

Lighten up, it's hot outside

The Pickled-tini at Oak Steakhouse

Andrew Cebulka

The Pickled-tini at Oak Steakhouse

As July comes to a close and the hot, sunny days start going by faster and faster, it seems more important than ever to soak up as much summertime as possible. Going to the beach is always a good choice, as is grilling out, going to the movies, or strolling through scenic downtown. But when the heat index rises beyond 100 degrees, the best thing to do is take a load off, sit with some good friends, and enjoy a refreshing cocktail and some nibbles. This week, several of Charleston's hot spots are offering drinks and bar snacks perfect for a hot summer night.

At Husk, try their Southern Blues cocktail. They combine housemade blueberry syrup, Smirnoff vodka, cilantro, egg whites, and lime juice. "It has a light sweetness," says Husk Bartender Bryan Franklin. "With a fresh cilantro flavor, and it's a fizz, so it has a frothiness to it from the egg whites." To pair with this drink, Franklin suggests their cheese plate, which features four Southern cheeses that are always changing as well as a fig jam.

For something a little different, head to Oak Steakhouse, which has a revamped cocktail menu with some great choices. Try the pickledtini created by Beverage Director Jackson Holland. It's their version of a vodka dirty martini with a pickled tomato garnish. To pair with this, Executive Chef Jeremiah Bacon suggests the mini steak sandwiches, which feature grilled, sliced CAB with Fontina cheese, arugula, truffle aioli, and grilled onions.

Barsa is offering a refreshing sangria de cava that is made with sparkling wine, fresh muddled lemon, lime, and orange juices, brandy, and elderflower nectar. "It's a twist on traditional sangria," says server Walt Davis. "It's a little lighter because it is made with sparkling wine instead of white and isn't quite as sweet and overwhelming." Davis recommends pairing this drink with their ceviche. The fish in this dish changes from time to time, but it is currently being made with red grouper, a little avocado, citrus, and served with homemade tortilla chips.

At Biggie's Southern Gastropub, go for the Johns Island Mule. It combines juiced cantaloupe, vodka, lime juice, and bartender Brent Sweatman's homemade ginger beer. "There is a pop from the ginger bear, and the sweetness of the melon smooths it with a kick from the beer," says Sweatman. "It's definitely a round drink." To go along with this cocktail, Sweatman suggests the boiled peanuts — simple, Southern, salty, and spicy.

The Cocktail Club is offering a great summer cocktail: the watermelon agua fresca. It combines watermelon juice, simple syrup, Agavales silver tequila, and some fresh mint, lime, and soda for freshness and fizz. To pair with this, the Cocktail Club recommends their local cherry tomatoes, which are served atop grilled crostini points and finished with homegrown basil pesto and a fig balsamic glaze.

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