I’ve spent the last month cruising summer menus in the Tacoma area for tasty adult beverages. I’m talking deck-style tropical cocktails and summer sippers that are easy drinking when temperatures rise. Take a look here at these cocktails that are icy, sweet, fruity and even smoky.
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Where: Primo Grill, 2701 Sixth Ave.; 253-383-7000 or primogrilltacoma.com
The Sixth Avenue Mediterranean restaurant blurs the line between kitchen and bar with its handcrafted cocktail elixirs made from house-infused spirits and handmade syrups. The Rhubarb Collins is a new invention from co-owner Jacqueline Plattner. She uses a house-made tart-and-floral ginger-rhubarb syrup at the base of her refreshing twist on a traditional Collins. The herbal note came from fennel-infused vodka, also made in house. Served in a tall Collins glass over ice with a fennel frond plopped on top, $10.
Where: Boiling Crawfish, 4301 S. Meridian, Puyallup; 253-256-7423 or boilingcrawfishwa.com.
Beer typically is my preferred booze companion with Louisiana-style seafood boil, but the new South Hill boil restaurant, Boiling Crawfish, has a mighty interesting summer cocktail list as a companion to its dozen-plus styles of seafood boil. Try the Miss Saigon, which starts with a vibrant purple hibiscus-infused vodka. The hibiscus imparts a light floral whiff, which was intensified after the addition of muddled mint and fresh lime juice. Served in a short rocks glass over ice with a lime slice and a sprig of fresh mint on top, $9.
Where: Matriarch Lounge, 1322 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-302-3359 or almamatertacoma.com/matriarch-lounge
My favorite cocktail in Tacoma using Cherry Heering, a complex cherry brandy that I love, has always been The Cardinal at The Mule Tavern, but a new close second is the Blood Moon from newly opened Matriarch Lounge in downtown Tacoma’s Alma Mater building. The Blood Moon starts with a slap of smoke from mezcal and a bit of boozy depth from sweet vermouth. The rich sweetness comes from that splash of Cherry Heering and a citrus finish. Served up in a coupe glass with an orange twist, $9.
Sweet Leilani and Madame Pele
Where: Cooks Tavern, 3201 N. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-327-1777 or cookstavern.com
The Proctor neighborhood restaurant changes its menu every few months. The new Hawaiian-themed menu debuted in June and features a handful of summer sippers. I liked the sweet-smoky-spicy Madame Pele with a smoky blast of mezcal and heavy foam top ($10.50), but my summer go-to cocktail is going to be the Sweet Leilani, made with Havana Club Anejo Blanco rum, a heavy pour of dragon-fruit syrup, passion-fruit puree, coconut cream and a surprising addition of coconut nigori sake. The rum and sake turned this drink super boozy, and it was sweet enough that it went down dangerously fast. Served in a tall glass over ice with a cherry, pineapple and orange garnish, $11.
Where: North End Social Club, 3013 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; nesc253.com
I was describing this frozen cider to somebody the other day and they thought I was joking. I wasn’t. They really do freeze cider at North End Social Club, a taproom in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood. The bar usually has a frozen cider and frozen wine whirling away in its slushy machine behind the bar. I didn’t care much for the frozen wine with a bitter finish, but I think the fruity, frozen huckleberry cider was the best adult slushy I’ve ever tasted. Served frozen in a tall jar, $6.