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The Surprising Ingredients of Summer’s Tastiest Cocktails

If you think bartenders have it easy, think again.

A flirty smile and heavy hand aren’t all that is required to keep customers coming back. Creative genius is what’s setting the bar for bars nowadays and everyone is stepping up their game.

Local bartenders are no exception. Homemade ingredients and unique concoctions are popping up in restaurants and bars all over Bakersfield.

The bar at Eureka is known for an inventive cocktail menu filled with drinks containing house-made, fresh ingredients. Popular at Eureka is the signature whiskey sour, made with one hard-to-find ingredient – real egg whites. Real eggs create the best foam and fizz for the drink, explains manager Alex Teran. Also commonly requested is Eureka’s Moscow mule made with house-made ginger-lime syrup, instead of ginger beer, and served in a crisp copper mug.

Every week, a bartender or manager at Eureka concocts a unique “fresh market” cocktail, made with seasonal produce. It has become quite a competition among the staff to see who can invent the best beverage. Weekly cocktail specials are only around for a few days each. However, Eureka patrons are invited to order past weeks’ fresh market cocktail favorites, and bartenders will try their best to accommodate. Upcoming options will include the cheekily titled “Kentucky breakfast,” a comforting summer cocktail made with velvety apricot jam. Cocktail connoisseurs can also look forward to a refreshing watermelon mojito, created with seasonally fresh pureed watermelon.

If you would like to try your hand at making a Eureka-inspired summer cocktail, follow the recipe below.

Watermelon Mojito

Ingredients:

• 30 large fresh mint leaves, coarsely torn by hand 


• 3 to 4 thick slices fresh watermelon with the rind and seeds discarded, pureed in a food processor fitted with the steel blade

• 12 ounces light rum, such as Bacardi 


• ½ cup simple syrup 


• 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes) 


• sprigs of mint and spears of watermelon for serving

Directions:

Use a mortar and pestle to mash the mint leaves. Put the mashed mint into a large pitcher with two cups of pureed watermelon, the rum, simple syrup, and lime juice and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a pitcher for serving. Place ice cubes in six glasses and pour the mojito mixture into the glasses. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint and spears of watermelon. Serve ice cold.

At the Padre Hotel, the bartender who is mixing with Corbin sweet potato vodka is Zachary Heidrich. The following orange creamsicle and fruity pebble-tini recipes are from Heidrich.

Fruity Pebble-tini

Ingredients:

• 2 ounces Corbin sweet potato vodka

• 1⁄2 ounce Amaretto Disaronno

• 1⁄2 ounce Chambord

• splash of pineapple

• splash of sweet and sour

• splash of Sprite

• 1 lemon (squeezed and dropped into tin)

• 1⁄4 ounce Blue Curacao

Directions:

Add all ingredients to tin shaker except the Sprite and Blue Curacao. Shake and strain this mixture into a martini glass and add a splash of Sprite. Sugar the rim of the glass. Sink the final quarter ounce of Blue Curacao into the drink.

Heidrich on the fruity pebble-tini: "This cocktail is fruity and colorful. The Sprite adds a bit of bubble to the drink and keeps you wanting more."

Orange Creamsicle

Ingredients:

• 1 3⁄4 ounces Corbin sweet potato vodka

• 1 ounce orange juice

• 1 bar spoon of vanilla

• 1 1⁄2 ounces simple syrup

• 2 count of whipped cream

• splash of sparkling water

Directions:

Add all ingredients except sparkling water to tin shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Add splash of sparkling water.

Heidrich said:
“The orange creamsicle cocktail is a perfect comparison to any orange cream soda that we have all had. It isn’t too thick or thin but leaves hints of vanilla and orange on the breath.”

Over at the Lone Oak Lounge, Janice Medford has been tending bar for 13 years.

She mixes up a “Nolet’s Passion” cocktail with unusual trimmings like pomegranate rimming sugar and edible flower garnish. To make this passion-infused cocktail yourself, follow the recipe below.

Medford said of her creation: “It is a very refreshing, innovative-flavored and low-calorie cocktail that can be appealing to both men and women.”

Nolet’s Passion

Ingredients:

• 1 ounce Nolet’s Silver gin

• ½ teaspoon agave sweetener

• Tazo passion iced tea

• pomegranate rimming sugar

• ice

Directions:

Chill Nolet’s Silver in a mixing glass. Pour the chilled liquor into large cocktail glass rimmed with pomegranate sugar. Add agave sweetener, passion iced tea and ice to fill the glass. Garnish with an edible flower.

For brunch, adventurous cocktail sippers should head to 24th Street Cafe to try its signature bloody mary made with locally crafted Bowen’s whiskey instead of the traditional vodka.

If you’re still craving vodka, you may want to try the newest trend in this eastern European liquor, which some say dates back to the 11th century. Inventive mixologists are integrating a new vodka into cocktails that is distilled from an unusual source – California sweet potatoes. To try a drink with this surprising ingredient, one should visit Cafe Med, Bakersfield Country Club, Sandrini’s, The Petroleum Club or the VIP Lounge.

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