As summer in the Hamptons approaches, year-round residents and vacationers alike are looking for reliable ways to stay cool and refreshed. In the spirit of the season, we asked three Southampton bartenders for their takes on traditional cocktails, drinks that have become local favorites after years of satisfied patrons.
Any or all of these drinks may become your antidote to the sweltering sun after a long day spent at the beach, on the trail or worst of all, at work.
Specialty cocktails have long been in the purview of most bartenders, but with the advent of “bartending books” and amateur mixologists, nearly every combination of alcoholic beverages has been explored by someone. In the event that one of our esteemed Southampton bartenders has offered a cocktail that has already achieved official status, we submit our sincerest apologies, and recommend one or two of the drinks listed hereafter to help you feel better.
Todd Ulrich, owner and operator of Tidewater AAA Pub on Montauk Highway, let us sample his variation on the tried-and-true Long Island Iced Tea, after a long deliberation on which of his many, many unique cocktails he ought to serve. He replaces the orangey undertones of triple sec with the sharp spice of Southern Comfort, explaining that “ages ago, almost everyone used to do this when making Long Island Iced Teas, and the only reason they stopped was because of cost considerations.” The Southern Comfort makes the drink taste more like an actual iced tea than the traditional version does, and gives it a bit more of a kick towards the end.
Todd also mentioned his renowned Bloody Marys, which are popular year-round with Tidewater’s customers and are made-to-order rather than from a pre-portioned mix. He tends to add unusual ingredients or garnishes—for example, pickled green beans often grace the rims of his pint glasses, along with many other uncommon adornments—which help to set his Bloody Marys apart from the herd of competitors and imitators.
Over at the Southampton Publick House, at the intersection of North Sea Road and Bowden Square, bartender Jamie Nelan mixed up a wholly original cocktail, though he admitted it had no name as of yet. The mysterious drink is composed of Citrus Absolut, Orange Absolut, peach schnapps, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and a dash of orange juice, shaken extensively and topped with a spritz of lemonade. The end result is an extremely refreshing, smooth concoction. Though the Publick House is a brewpub most commonly known for its wide selection of beer brewed on-site, Nelan assures us that those who order this drink almost always order a second; and, of course, the hotter it gets outside, the better it sells.
For our final summer drink, we took a trip down to Taps (formerly North Sea Tavern), located snugly at the intersection of North Sea Road and Parrish Road. Bartender George Williams put a cooling spin on the classic Cosmo, adding a healthy serving of pineapple juice to the usual recipe (just before introducing the cranberry juice) before shaking and garnishing with a thin wedge of orange. The final product is sweet, summery, and finishes with a delicious tangy flavor that stays on the palate for some time afterward. It’s amazing how such a small addition can make such a drastic difference in the taste of a cocktail.
Of course, all of these innovative drinks are available from their respective establishments year-round, and we encourage you to try the other specialties of these Southampton-area bars: the Publick House offers a huge variety of seasonal and year-round craft beers, Taps has a great selection of draft beer and wine by the glass, and Tidewater features a sports-themed atmosphere and any cocktail you could ever want. All three boast friendly staff, ready and willing to mix up something new for your enjoyment.