The ultimate refreshing cocktail is one with light and fresh ingredients to enhance the flavors and let the marriage of mixers and liquors shine through. A quintessential cocktail or mocktail for Pittsburgh’s summer evenings takes advantage of seasonal components, picked straight from the garden. Quench your thirst and find a produce-packed cocktail at one of these 10 neighborhood watering holes.
North Oakland is home to Butterjoint, a cozy spot with craft cocktails and local and seasonal fare. Drinks here are on rotation, but what we are enjoying right now is the Bramble, a gin drink paired with the house-made blackberry cordial. Strawberry or rhubarb shrub and sodas are available for a non-alcoholic refresher.
Bridges & Bourbon
Head to Bridges & Bourbon for that elevated experience. With modern twists on classics as well as contemporary creations, Bridges & Bourbon offers unique drinks that are often fruit- or herb-forward. Strawberry Fields pairs perfectly with summer. Their combinations never disappoint — with bourbon, rye, pepper and strawberry shrub along with honey, lemon, orange and basil. The Cultural District location is serving libations and small plates seven days a week.
Downtown in the Market Street Grocery you’ll find Emerson’s, a cocktail lounge with drinks that pack a bright and often fruity punch. Be sure to order their take on the quintessential summer drink, Clementine Orange Aperol Spritz. Brandy with clementine orange cordial, the ever popular Aperol, along with grapefruit and clementine seltzer make for a crisp citrusy spritz.
Nothing can bring a more tropical vibe to your summer drink ritual than a visit to Hidden Harbor. Green garnishes and fruits abound at this tiki-inspired bar, never shy of whimsical presentation that adds to a vacation mindset. Fun-loving glassware with heaps of garnishes and florals make these rum-filled creations extra enticing. The award-winning creations with local ingredients are sure to transport you from Squirrel Hill straight to the islands.
Scratch & Co has teamed up with Bar Botanico to bring exactly what the moniker implies, dishes and drinks from scratch. The Cool Hand Cuke cocktail is sure to satisfy on the hottest of summer days, with a combination of crisp cucumber, mint, celery shrub and lime. This Lawrenceville staple is consistently delivering unique, essential summer cocktails.
Can’t travel to Europe this summer? Head over to Apteka to be whisked away by Eastern European influences without getting on a flight. Not only is the menu at Apteka full of fantastic plant-based food options, the drinks follow suit. All of the cordials and tinctures are made in-house, so diners and drinkers are in for a fruity or herbaceous treat. Be sure to order a house cordial or a carbonated tea made from house-picked nettles.
Spork is taking what you think of conventional cocktails and turning them on their heads. The house cocktail list is on continual rotation, so each time you return you may find yourself trying something completely new and different. El Fusilado is inventive, with tomato-infused Leblon Cachaça, lime, mango, a lacto-fermented tomato water agave and cayenne. You’ll never see lycopene and liquor the same way again. Spork is serving up stellar food and drinks Monday through Saturday evenings in Garfield on Penn Avenue.
Frances aims to bring warm, fuzzy Sunday dinner vibes to Shadyside any day. The menu reflects cocktails with simple yet quality ingredients. The June Old Fashioned is chock full of fruit flavors, with peach bitters, blackberry, black cherry and finished with mint.
Quantum Spirits is serving anything but your garden-variety beverages in Carnegie. Be sure to look out for events that incorporate summer produce with spirits. The live demos and tastings will help keep your creative juices flowing. There is no better way to take tips and tricks from the evening than to buy a bottle at the distillery and then put it to the test at your own garden party.
If these establishments are serving up some major inspiration, head over to Goodlander where you can literally get summer in a cup … to go. This cocktail brewery has sample service along with takeout cocktails, so fill up a growler and bring these drinks right to your own backyard. The ingredients are all made in-house, so nothing but quality mint, citruses, juices and mixes are accompanying these boozy concoctions. Taps are flowing in the Larimer neighborhood Wednesdays through Saturdays and the kegs and growlers are returnable and reusable, so you can visit time and time again.