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When it comes to cocktails and drinks these days, anything goes. Dazzle guests with glitzy, chic cocktails and thirst quenchers when you gather for summer's last fling this Labor Day weekend around the pool. Take your cue from trendy drink selections in restaurants in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York - and have fun. Plenty of options are feasible, ranging from Latin-inspired and Caribbean creations to trendy cocktails and even some of those old-fashioned nostalgic favorites.

Big cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago have become a cocktail party of colorful, fruit-filled drinks. Vacation-style drinks. And not just because it's a hot summer.

Cocktails rule in suave lounges, venerable hotel bars, trendy cafes, funky downtown spots, hot new restaurants for the latest in fusion food and even in chic temples of haute cuisine. The crowd is sipping mint-garlanded mojitos, sparkling flutes of champagne-and-vodka mambo kings, apricot-toned Floridians with squiggles of orange peel dangling from the rims of the glasses, fancy martinis and peach bellinis.

Vodka is still big, but now, with a host of flavorings, it inspires ever more new drinks. At Palomino Euro Bistro in Westwood, where some 50 percent of the alcohol sales are in hard liquor, the most requested cocktails are martinis made with premium vodka or gin along with a sour apple martini, said lead bartender Vince DiPietro. For something different, try a lychee martini (lychee syrup and vodka) at Le Colonial in West Hollywood, or a South Bay martini (vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple juice) at Encounter at Los Angeles International Airport.

``The cocktail is back in a big way,'' said Dale DeGroff, the ``drink chef'' at Blackbird in midtown Manhattan, where drinks are designed to be sipped with dinner, not just before or instead of. ``Food led the way, making palates more adventuresome,'' he added. Now the interest in Latin and tropical cuisines has people drinking cocktails inspired by those regions.

At Cha-Cha-Cha Encino, Caribbean-style tropical drinks (to match the restaurant's Caribbean theme, food and atmosphere), ranging in price from $4.75 to $6 each, are all the rage. The Voodoo Moon Dance, a tropical punch-style drink is the top-selling concoction, revealed bar manager Noe Nunez. Light rum, Bacardi 151-proof rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine are layered over ice, and then a float of dark rum from the West Indies goes on top. ``Mangoritas - blended with ice, gold tequila, mango passion liqueur, fresh mango puree and lemon lemon-lime mix - and cocoladas - blended like a pina colada with Malibu rum, dark rum from the West Indies, cream of coconut and pineapple juice - also rank among customers' top choices.''

Other drink favorites include the Ocho Rios, layered on the rocks with vodka, gin, rum, tequila, orange pineapple juice and cranberry juice and topped with a float of Grand Marnier; and Lola's lambada, made with dark rum, mango passion liqueur, orange juice and lemon-lime juice.

Many new drinks are being made with cachaca, which may be the vodka of the next millennium. It is also clear but a little rougher tasting than vodka, yet it provides a clean slate for the concoction of the moment. Cachaca is essential in the caipirinha, a Brazilian drink made with sugar syrup and lime. But such drinks are not syrupy cousins to the old pina colada and strawberry margarita. And in their own sly way, they also taste more sophisticated than the cloying drinks that characterized places like Trader Vic's, extravaganzas sprouting paper parasols, skewers of fruit and sometimes flames.

``There is a lot of experimentation now, a lot of interest in new alcohols,'' said Fernando Saralegui, the owner of Manhattan's Greenwich Village-located L-Ray, which specializes in drinks made famous in Cuba and New Orleans, like mojitos and hurricanes.

Bartenders are mixing up record numbers of the mojito, a Cuban classic mix of rum, lime juice and fresh mint as well as caipirinhas.

Mojitos have really caught on with the young crowd as well as older, sophisticated diners over the last year at Xiomara in Pasadena, a restaurant serving Cuban-inspired food, pointed out James Austin, general manager, where, on a weekend night, the bartender whips up 100 mojitos using fresh sugar cane from Miami to make the sugar-cane juice to put into the drink along with crushed lime and fresh mint, Bacardi light rum, ice and a splash of 7Up for carbonation. The refreshing drink is $8 - unless you get there between 5 and 7 p.m. weeknights, when you can sample one for half-price. At lunch, the virgin mojito is very popular.

At Chicago's Mas on Division Street, wooden pestles called muddlers are lined up along the bar for good reason: Orders for dozens of mojitos are challenging the margarita's supremacy as the most requested cocktail. Experts agree that muddling - pressing the limes and mint together to release the oils - is the key to a knockout mojito.

At Nacional 27 on Huron Street in Chicago, margaritas are the top seller (80 to 100 a night), but mojitos run a close second (60 to 90 a night), followed by caipirinhas, said Ed Culleeney, one of the managing partners: ``More people are aware of the mojito than they used to be.''

``The time is right,'' said John Manion, chef and partner of Chicago's Mas. ``Latin culture has come to the forefront in the last few years. It is much more recognized. It touches everyday life, from music to products in grocery stores.''

Call it the Ricky Martin factor.

``Tequila sales are through the roof,'' said Chicago's Frontera Grill/Topolobampo chef Rick Bayless. ``In the 12 years we have been in business, we have gone from 10 tequilas to 65 tequilas.''

While many tequila fans stick to margaritas, Bayless has seen more customers develop a taste for sipping tequilas. ``(Customers) even know where it comes from and whether it is a highland or lowland tequila.''

Other beverages are also quenching thirsts. The folks that run hot and trendy Asia de Cuba in Los Angeles recently opened the Rum Jungle in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. It offers some 146 rums. Talk about an escape.

``In the mid-'80s, you had mostly big frozen drinks, or liquor on the rocks, but for about the past three years, all our restaurants have had drink menus with special cocktails,'' said Steve Hanson, whose company, B.R. Guest, owns seven restaurants in New York.

Hanson and other restaurateurs said that the Cosmopolitan paved the way for today's diversity of drinks. Now the martini's stiffest competition, the Cosmopolitan is evolving. At Ruby Foo's in New York, where it's known as the Ruby Foo, it's made with sake, vodka and cranberry and pineapple juices, and it outsells the traditional Cosmopolitan 5-to-1.

At Pasadena's Xiomara, Cosmopolitans - a shaken mixture of vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime served in a frozen martini glass - are also selling like crazy. When the drink is made with Belvedere vodka (Polish), it is so smooth that you can't taste the vodka, said Austin.

``Drinks are becoming less sweet,'' said Clark Wolf, a New-York based restaurant consultant. ``There is a lot of fruit and rum, but the drinks are drier, balanced with a sour note. The 20- and 30-year-olds are really into these cocktails, and the 40-to-60s crowd are rediscovering them.''

While new drinks are making inroads everywhere, nostalgia is also coming on strong in this cocktail revival.

Westwood's Palomino Euro Bistro is turning out a peach palini - reminiscent of a peach bellini, which has been around for years - with peach syrup and nectar, peach schnapps, creme de casis and champagne blended up with ice and served in a 14-ounce pilsner glass. They also have created a sangria palini - with tropical fruit juices, papaya, guava, pineapple juice, orange juice and Chianti blended up with ice.

At Marion's Continental, a restaurant and bar on the Bowery in Manhattan, four weeks this summer were devoted to crazy Polynesian-style concoctions served in coconut shells and oversize glasses while the restaurant became a palm and bamboo fantasy Kahiki Lounge.

To get your party off to a great start, dive in and consider these drink possibilities, geared to a wide range of partygoers.


Rose's lime juice

Granulated sugar

1 lime, cut in wedges

1/4 cup Lime Simple Syrup

1/4 cup cachaca

Crushed ice

Moisten rim of a tall tumbler with lime juice. Dip rim in granulated sugar.

Add lime wedges and Lime Simple Syrup to glass. Press limes, using a muddler or pestle, to release juice and oils in skin.

Add cachaca. Fill glass with crushed ice. Stir. Makes 1 drink.

LIME SUGAR SYRUP: Add peel of 2 limes to warm Simple Syrup (recipe follows). Refrigerate peel in syrup until ready to use. Strain.

SIMPLE SYRUP: Heat 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. Cover. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Any remaining Simple Syrup can be refrigerated up to several weeks. Makes 1 cup.

VARIATION: To make Mint Syrup, substitute mint leaves for lime peel.

Adapted from Nacional 27, Chicago.


Drink masters at Mas restaurant suggest using one juice or blending your own mix.

Powdered sugar

Ice cubes

3 tablespoons cachaca

1 to 2 tablespoons bar OR Simple Syrup (see recipe above)

1/4 cup fruit juice concentrate: mango, guava OR passion fruit

Lime slice

Dip rim of a short tumbler or old-fashioned glass in powdered sugar.

Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add cachaca, Simple Syrup and fruit juice concentrate. Shake well.

Strain into glass over ice. Garnish with lime slice. Makes 1 drink.

From Mas, Chicago.


Rose's lime juice

Granulated sugar

12 mint leaves, plus mint sprigs for garnish

1/2 fresh lime, cut in wedges

1 tablespoon Simple Syrup (see recipe above)

1/4 cup cachaca

Crushed ice

Club soda

Moisten rim of a martini glass with lime juice. Dip rim in granulated sugar.

Put mint leaves, lime wedges and Simple Syrup in glass. Press mint, lime and syrup together, using a muddler or pestle, to release juices and oils.

Add cachaca and crushed ice. Top with club soda. Stir. Garnish with mint. Makes 1 drink.

Adapted from Mambo, Chicago.


At the Perez family's Rinconcito Sudamericano in Chicago, Dino Perez says this is their most popular alcoholic drink.

1/2 cup ice

3 tablespoons pisco brandy

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 egg white (optional)

Ground cinnamon (optional)

Lime wedge

Puree all ingredients, except cinnamon and lime wedge, in a blender. Pour into a glass.

Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Garnish with lime wedge. Makes 1 drink.

From Rinconcito Sudamericano, Chicago.


1/3 cup EACH fresh orange juice and pineapple juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons light rum

1 tablespoon 151-proof rum

Ice cubes

Orange twist

Maraschino cherries

Stir together juices and rums in a pitcher. Pour into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.

Garnish with orange twist and cherries. Makes 1 drink.

From Mambo Grill, Chicago.



2 2/3 ounces orange vodka

1 ounce Cointreau OR Triple Sec

4 splashes sour mix

2 splashes cranberry juice

2 twists of orange peel

In a metal cocktail shaker half filled with ice, combine vodka, Cointreau, sour mix and cranberry juice. Shake well.

Strain into 2 martini glasses. Garnish each drink with a twist of orange peel. Makes 2 drinks.

Adapted from Asia de Cuba, Los Angeles.


4 ounces gin OR vodka, rum OR bourbon

3 ounces fresh lemon juice

4 teaspoons sugar OR to taste

Ice cubes

Club soda (optio1nal)

4 sprigs fresh mint

Place gin, lemon juice and sugar in a shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well.

Pour into a glass along with ice, or pour into a tall glass and top off with club soda. Garnish with mint. Makes 2 drinks.

Adapted from ``21'' Club, New York.


1 lime, quartered OR more to taste

10 pitted cherries, preferably sour cherries, plus 2 stemmed whole cherries for garnish

2 ounces Sugar Syrup (see recipe above)

4 ounces cachaca

Cracked ice

Place lime and pitted sour cherries in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Add syrup and muddle (lightly crush) lime pieces and cherries. If using sweet cherries, add an additional lime.

Add cachaca and 1 1/2 cups cracked ice. Shake well.

Pour into old-fashioned glasses. Serve garnished with a cherry. Makes 2 drinks.

Adapted from Blackbird, New York.


2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Ice cubes

2 1/2 ounces cachaca

Muddle sugar into lime wedges in an old-fashioned glass. Fill glass with ice cubes.

Pour cachaca into glass. Stir well. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


2 teaspoons superfine sugar

1 lime wedge

Ice cubes

2 ounces light rum

1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon cherry brandy

1/2 ounce lime juice

Place sugar in a saucer. Rub rim of a cocktail glass with lime wedge and dip glass into sugar to coat rim thoroughly. Reserve lime.

In a shaker half filled with ice cubes, combine rum, maraschino liqueur, cherry brandy and lime juice. Shake well.

Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


Ice cubes

2 ounces tequila

1 ounce lemon juice

1 teaspoon superfine sugar

3 ounces club soda

1 maraschino cherry

1 orange slic1e

In a shaker, half filled with ice cubes, combine tequila, lemon juice and sugar. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass almost filled with ice cubes.

Add club soda. Stir and garnish with cherry and orange slice. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan HarperCollins.


Ice cubes

2 ounces dark rum

1/2 ounce creme de bananes

1 teaspoon Rose's lime juice

6 ounces pineapple juice

2 dashes orange bitters

1/2 teaspoon grenadine

Crushed ice

1 maraschino cherry

1 pineapple slice

In a shaker, half filled with ice cubes, combine rum, creme de bananes, lime juice, pineapple juice, orange bitters and grenadine. Shake well.

Strain into a collins glass almost filled with crushed ice. Garnish with cherry and pineapple slice. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


2 ounces light rum

1/2 ounce Cointreau OR Triple Sec

6 overripe strawberries

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar

1 cup crushed ice

In a blender, combine all ingredients with crushed ice. Blend well.

Pour into a collins glass. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


1 liter light rum

1 liter anejo rum

1 (750-ml) bottle sweet vermouth

1 (750-ml) bottle champagne OR sparkling wine

1 quart orange juice

1 cup cranberry juice

Large block of ice

2 oranges, cut into slices

In a large punch bowl, combine light rum, anejo rum, vermouth, champagne, orange juice and cranberry juice. Stir well.

Add 1 large block ice. Garnish with orange slices. Makes 30 (6-ounce) punch cup size drinks.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


7 ounces pineapple juice

2 ounces coconut cream

1 cup crushed ice

1 maraschino cherry

1 pineapple wedge

I1n a blender, combine pineapple juice and coconut cream with crushed ice. Blend well at high speed.

Pour into a collins glass. Garnish with cherry and pineapple wedge. Makes 1 drink.

From ``The Bartender's Bible'' by Gary Regan, HarperCollins.


2 1/2 ounces Bacardi Limon

Granulated sugar to coat rim of glass

Ice cubes

1 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce cranberry juice

1/2 lemon slice for garnish

Moisten rim of a cocktail glass with some of Bacardi Limon. Sprinkle lightly but evenly with sugar.

Fill a large shaker glass 2/3 full of ice cubes. Add Bacardi Limon, Cointreau, lemon juice and cranberry juice. Shake until well blended and chilled.

Strain into prepared glass, garnish with lemon slice. Serve at once. Makes 1 drink.

From ``New Classic Cocktails'' by Gary Regan and M. Haidin Regan, Macmillan


Mojito, a variation of the word mojar, means ``to wet'' in Spanish - an appropriate description of this cocktail.

1/4 cup fresh sugarcane juice OR 1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 ounces light rum

4 to 5 mint leaves

Crushed ice

7-Up to taste

1 stick surgarcane for garnish

1 slice lime, for garnish

Place sugarcane juice, rum and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and stir. (If using sugar, shake vigorously until sugar dissolves.)

Fill a tall rocks glass with crushed ice and pour cocktail over ice. Add 7-Up and stir gently. Garnish with sugarcane stick and serve. Makes 1 drink.

From ``Nuevo Latino'' by Douglas Rodriguez, Ten Speed Press.


1 semi-ripe mango, peeled, pitted and sliced

2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

3 limes, sliced

2 lemons, sliced

1 orange, sliced

1 cup seedless green grapes

1/2 cup Cointreau

1 bottle champagne OR cava, chilled

Place all fruit in a large punch bowl. Pour Cointreau over fruit and toss gently. Just before serving, add chilledI1 champagne and stir gently.

Serve wine with some of fruit in large chilled wine glasses. Makes 6 drinks.

NOTE: You can use any leftover fruit for a fruit salad. Just make sure the kids don't get to it first.

From ``Nuevo Latino'' by Douglas Rodriguez, Ten Speed Press.


1 orange, thinly sliced and seeded

1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

1 pint strawberries, stemmed and sliced in half

1 peach, peeled and thinly sliced

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, Grand Marnier OR Triple Sec

3 tablespoons brandy OR cognac

1 bottle Spanish red wine, such as a Rioja

8 ice cubes

Place all sliced fruit in a bowl. Sprinkle on sugar, liqueur and brandy, toss gently so that all fruit is coated. Cover and let fruit macerate (soak in flavor of liquor) 1 to 2 hours in refrigerator.

Transfer fruit to a large pitcher and add red wine and ice. Mix together and serve. Makes 1 quart.

From ``Dad Cooks Up a Party'' by Bob Sloan, Macmillan.


These drinks are not too strong. Because they taste so good, it's hard to stop.

1 mango, peeled and flesh removed from pit

6 strawberries, stems removed

4 ounces light OR dark rum

1 ounce Cointreau OR Triple Sec

1 lime, peeled

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree at highest speed 30 to 40 seconds, until smoothly blended. Makes 4 drinks.

From ``Dad Cooks Up a Party'' by Bob Sloan, Macmillan.



1 1/2 ounces Midori melon liqueur

3 1/2 ounces orange vodka

1 ounce blue Curacao

1 ounce pineapple juice

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

In a metal cocktail shaker half filled with ice, combine all ingredients.

Shake well. Strain into 2 chilled martini glasses. Makes 2 drinks.

Adapted from Ruby Foo's, New York.



Photo: CoI1ol drinks with roots in Latin America, like the rum-based mojito, foreground, which hails from Cuba, and the champagne-and-vodka mambo are this summer's hottest thirst-quenchers.

Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Sep 1, 1999

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