While rosé might be the unofficial wine of warm weather, the flower bearing the same name is creeping into summer drinks, adding a floral, sometimes pink touch. This season bartenders all over are shaking off those darling rosebuds of May and using them to add a provocative aroma and dimension to al fresco-friendly cocktails.
Location: 38 State Street, Newburyport, MA
Bartender: Brett Henderson
Cocktail: Flores ($13) with Privateer Gin, housemade grenadine, St. Elder Liqueur, lemon juice, Peychauds bitters, Angostura Bitters, rose water, egg white.
Travel 35 miles northeast of Boston to try this rose cocktail, which uses rose water to make it "pop." Bartender Henderson recently started to experiment with rose flower petal water and orange blossom water, and is fascinated by how both ingredients enhance the drink's nose and add dimension. "Although subtle, it can take components of a drink to another level with that extra 'nose' to it, that could possibly be missing," he explains.
Location: 131 N Main Street, Davidson, NC
Bartenders: Kenny Hanlon and Blake Pope
Cocktail: Thistle Dew ($12) with Famous Grouse, lemon juice, simple syrup, yellow Chartreuse, rose water.
The rose water here acts as a bridge connecting the yellow Chartreuse spice with the scotch's subtle smokiness. "This is a great cocktail for a frisky summer evening with good company," says the drink's co-creator Kenny Hanlon.
Location: 151 W Adams St, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Damian Arms
Cocktail: Old Pal Cocktail ($15) with Templeton rye, rose-infused dry vermouth, Campari, house orange bitters
This classic cocktail is more approachable now thanks to a touch of rose water added to the vermouth. "Originally a dry and spicy drink, it wasn't for the amateur imbiber," says bartender Arms. "The floral and orange citrus additions help calm the spicier notes of the drink and make it a more accessible drink, preserving the original cocktail with a modern twist."
Location: 1520 N Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Toby Maloney
Cocktail: Juliet and Romeo ($13) with Beefeater Gin, mint, cucumber, rose water.
The Juliet and Romeo, which is a variation of the classic Southside, is a simple but elegant cocktail and has been Violet Hour's top seller ever since the James Beard award-winning bar opened eight years ago. Its creation began with the simple premise: Head mixologist Maloney wanted to create a drink that gin haters would love.
Location: 3315 Milam Street, Houston, TX
Bartender: Steven Salazar
Cocktail: Velvet Sun ($8) with vodka, Campari, lime, ginger beer, rose water.
The rose water here adds a floral component that complements the herbaceous Campari while contrasting the ginger's heat. "This drink is very refreshing, sweet, and the bitterness of the Campari is perfectly in balance to make the drink very enjoyable over the entire palate with a lingering complex finish," explains beverage director/partner Salazar.
Location: 1712 W. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV
Bartender: Mike Richardson
Cocktail: Higgins ($9) with Hendrick’s Gin, Fruit Lab Theia Jasmine Organic Liqueur, honey, rosewater, and a honeycomb garnish.
When Richardson was creating this cocktail, hit '80s TV show Magnum P.I. happened to be playing on TV, so he named the drink after a character on the show. This sophisticated cocktail showcases a beautiful bouquet of floral notes thanks to the Hendrick's gin and jasmine liqueur, with the rose water and honey rounding things out.
Location: 1218 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV
Bartender: Christina Dylag
Cocktail: Sunnyside ($10) with vodka, Campari, rose water, lemon, house grapefruit ginger soda.
Although keeping company with Campari and the housemade grapefruit ginger soda, the rose water manages to hit the palate up front, then blend into the sweet ginger spice. "The drink itself is well-balanced, but finishes on the drier side," says Dylag. "The Campari and grapefruit offer a subtle bitterness, and the lemon and carbonation keep the drink light and fresh."
Location: 1929 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Bartenders: Aaron Alvarez and Eugene Lee
Cocktail: Highgarden ($10) with gin, Amaro Nonino, rose tea simple syrup, lemon.
Game of Thrones fans will totally get the reference here, but Highgarden is a cocktail ode to "House Tyrell and Margaery Tyrell's coy smile." It will be a brunch staple for as long as the HBO show is on the air. The cocktail itself possesses light orange notes from the amaro complemented by the floral rose tea and herbaceous gin.
Location: 8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA
Bartender: Jason Eisner
Cocktail: Jalisco Kiss ($15) with juniper-infused blanco tequila, rose syrup, lemon, and sparkling wine.
According to drink creator Eisner, the rose syrup serves to accent the tequila's floral notes. "The organic rose buds we use add a gentile floral quality, without overpowering the citrus and tequila in the cocktail. No one wants to drink perfume, but this brings out the more floral qualities of the tequila," he says.
Location: 927 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Dan Sabo
Cocktail: The Royal Enfield ($14) with Hendrick's Gin, milk-washed apricot cordial, Alvear PX sherry, rose water, dandelion, burdock, Maldon solution, chamomile smoke.
In the Royal Enfield, the rose water is used to amplify the gin's botanicals. It bridges the gap between the rosa damascena-infused Hendrick's and the cocktail's other flowery ingredients.
Location: 1360 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Josh Suchan
Cocktail: Let's Make It Interesting ($12) with Russian Standard vodka infused with strawberry sencha tea, rose water, Aperol, fresh lemon juice, cava.
"Let's Make It Interesting is meant to recreate the experience of sipping the most refreshing drink outdoors amongst the fruit and flowers of a home garden," says Suchan. The aroma from the rose water and rose petal garnish tie together the Aperol and strawberry-sencha tea while the cava provides a dry finish.
Location: 30801 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA
Bartender: Allison Isambert
Cocktail: Vie Rose 75 ($18) with Nolet's Silver Dry Gin, lime juice, rose water cardamom simple syrup, Peychaud's bitters, muddled dried rose petals, rosé Champagne.
The gin's delicate floral notes are played up by the rose simple syrup in this French 75 variation. Bartender Isambert suggests enjoying oysters with the cocktail "where the salty sea water is balanced with the gentle rose water."
Location: 9531 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA
Bartender: Clare Ward
Cocktail: Rose of Jaipur ($12) with Sloane's Gin, housemade rose petal Rooh Afza, lemon, grapefruit, orgeat, basil.
The Rose of Jaipur was inspired by the popular Indian herbal concoction used to help cool folks down during hot summers. The cocktail's floral syrup—made with fresh rose petals, cardamom, and cinnamon—pairs with the citrus and dry gin. "It all comes together to make a refreshing beverage to sip on in the hot summer months," says bartender Ward.
Location: 8265 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Ryan Wainwright
Cocktail: Rosewater Sour ($12) with Rain vodka, lemon, Noilly Prat vermouth, Aperol, and rosewater cordial.
For bartender Wainwright, nothing says springtime like a visit to his mother's rose garden. So, he created what he likes to think of as the L.A. rose lemonade—bright, floral and refreshing. "It has a real, fresh brightness that takes me back to warm spring days in the rose garden."
Location: 1427 West Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
Bartender: Jeff O’Neill
Cocktail: Sin-Sation ($28) with nitrogenized vanilla vodka and rose petal nectar, topped with Champagne and a vanilla vodka and rose petal nectar popsicle.
The Sin-Sation is a mildly sweet cocktail with a sweeter, intoxicating fragrance due to the rose petal nectar and vanilla vodka. For a stronger drink, just wait. As the vodka popsicle melts it adds a whole shot.
Location: 211 N. 1st Street, Minneapolis, MN
Bartender: Robb Jones
Cocktail: Clover Club ($13) with housemade mixed berry syrup, fresh lemon juice, J. Carver Barrel Gin #157, rose water, and egg white.
The drops of rose water give this updated Clover Club a heady aroma but the fresh berries are the highlight of the drink. Jones, who spearheads the cocktail program for this James Beard award nominated restaurant, says, "The barrel aged gin works particularly well adding some vanilla notes to the berry flavor. The egg white dries the cocktail out, and gives it a long velvety finish."
Location: 123 12th Ave N, Nashville, TN
Bartender: Maneet Chauhan
Cocktail: Mango Lassi ($10) with vodka, fresh mango pulp, rose water, yogurt, sugar, milk and ice.
Inspired by her home country of India, chef Chauhan used rose water to lend a floral quality to this boozy mango lassi. "It perfectly complements the sweetness of the mango while adding a nice contrast to the creamy yogurt."
New York City
Location: 9 Doyers Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Chris Marshall
Cocktail: Letters to Cuba ($15) with Denizen aged rum, lemon juice, honey, housemade elderflower and rosehip liqueur, Champagne.
The Letters to Cuba cocktail is a sweet, nuanced version of the French 75. The floral notes of the rosehip mix with the sweetness of the rum and the effervescence of the Champagne.
Location: 420 West 13th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Mitchell Malnati
Cocktail: Rose Old Fashioned ($12) with bourbon, Angostura bitters, rose syrup, orange.
Sommelier Malnati made the classic Old Fashioned all pretty with rose syrup, which adds subtle floral notes. "When I was working on a twist on the Old Fashioned, I wanted to find something that made the cocktail very alluring and sexy. It's traditionally a masculine cocktail, so I really wanted to find an ingredient that added a slight feminine touch," he explains. After trying a few different flavors, he decided on the rose, which ended up adding an elegance to the cocktail without overpowering it.
Location: 64 Downing Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Jorge Guzman
Cocktail: Gardenia Spritzer ($11) with Giffard Black Rose liqueur, lemon bitters, mandarin soda, top with prosecco.
To give this sparkling cocktail more body bartender Guzman used a creamy black rose liqueur— crème de rose made with Moroccan rose petals reduction. The rose plays through midpalate while mandarin notes come through the finish.
Location: 47 W 8th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: John McCarthy
Cocktail: Rye, Roots & Rose ($14) with housemade rose petal-infused rye, maple syrup, and house root bitters.
Even though bartender McCarthy is no longer with Greenwich Project, his rose cocktail has stuck around. The rye is infused with roses in a jar for 48 hours but the result isn't overwhelmingly perfumed. Instead, the infusion gives the cocktail a subtle rosy finish.
Location: 310 Spring St, New York, NY
Bartender: Jeremy Strawn
Cocktail: Bramble Rose ($13) with Ford's Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, housemade rose jam.
The housemade jam garnishing the Bramble Rose tastes like fresh berry jam mixed with a fresh rose bouquet. The gin cocktail itself is slightly sweet, yet refreshing.
Location: 529 Hudson Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Shawn Chen
Cocktail: Petals & Cranes ($14) with rosebud-infused Mizunomai Shochu, St. Germain, blueberries, cucumber, mint, herbal bitters, sparkling rosé.
Bartender Chen wanted a refreshing sparkling cocktail to welcome summer and immediately thought of dry rosebuds. He matches the rose with a dry sparkling rosé and Mizunomai Shochu "because it's a very adaptable spirit. Its smooth and clean characteristic allows it to play well with many flavors."
Location: 39 East 75th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Pamela Wiznitzer
Cocktail: Back the Rack ($13) with Belvedere Unfiltered, Campari, Cocchi Rosa, Giffard Black Rose liqueur.
Originating from last week's Negroni Week, this variation balances the floral notes and bitterness of the Cocchi Rosa with the rose that pops up on the finish. This month proceeds from Back the Rack will be donated to Speed Rack, a female bartender competition which raises money for breast cancer research.
Location: 1212 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR
Bartender: Justin Siemer
Cocktail: Green Earrings ($7) with Beefeater Gin, green tea, green cardamom, apricot, lemon, rose water.
Bartender Siemer wanted to showcase bright Middle Eastern flavors—like green cardamom, green tea and apricot—in his Green Earrings cocktail. So, he paired them with Beefeater Gin and dashes of rose water to heighten those notes.
Location: 3391 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA
Bartender: David Kinsey
Cocktail: Leafcutter ($10) with Genever, honey, Maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, rose water.
The cocktail's rose float ties all its flavors together, according to bartender Kinsey. "The Leafcutter has a bread maltiness that gives way to white pepper, with the dryness of the Maraschino balancing the honey and enhancing the rose aroma."