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New Season, New Cocktails: Mix It Up with Kombucha, Seltzer, Makgeolli, & More

Raise your hand if you have spring fever--we’d raise both, but then who would write this guide? Without trudging too deep into Things You Already Know And Are Tired Of Hearing And Reading, it’s been a year. A year that almost feels like it was winter the entire time. While we’re not out of the woods yet, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s hot on the heels of longer days of sunshine and rising temperatures. 

From still doing more of your imbibing at home to needing a fresh start to commemorate what’s, well, a fresh start, we thought it was the perfect time to round up some new cocktail favorites that are especially exciting. You have your stable of beer cocktails and there are still new inventions coming out every day. Why not explore a whole different path and play with the endless possibilities and new worlds of flavor that come with kombucha, makgeolli, seltzer, tea, and cider? These options are beverage repertoire game-changers on their own, seriously blowing the doors off the house of all drinks celebratory or de-stressing. So, just think of what they can bring to the table, or bar top, rather. These unique beverages will have your cocktail routine totally re-energized, and will definitely make you the host with the most for any small-and-well-spaced-backyard party.

 

Kombrewcha Mango Brewcholada

It’s no wonder the hard kombucha trend is not only booming, but actually becoming less trend and more permanent fixture. It’s bright, refreshing, a perfect canvas for big, bold, beautiful flavors, and it’s got a healthy kick. And that healthy kick can do more than elevate your go-to adult beverage preferences, it can elevate your cocktails. 

Kombrewcha is one of the pioneering leaders in hard kombucha, packing in a flair for harmonious flavor combos and a passion for the absolute best quality and ingredients. The Mango Pineapple interprets all of this with the sweet-meets-tart profile that explodes when these two fruits meet. And the Kombrewcha team whipped up a cocktail recipe with this variety that is a one-way ticket to a tropical paradise.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 oz. Kombrewcha Mango Pineapple
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 ¾ oz. Coco Lopez
  • 2 oz. mango purée (blend 1 fresh mango with a splash of Coco Lopez)
  • 3 basil leaves
  • Small slice of mango, extra basil leaf for garnish

Step 1: Shake all the ingredients except for the Kombrewcha Mango Pineapple in a tin shaker.

Step 2: Add the Kombrewcha Mango Pineapple.

Step 3: Strain through a mesh strainer into a wine glass or hurricane glass over just a few cubes of ice.

Step 4: Garnish with mango and basil.

 

MAKKU Blueberry Gin Fizz

MAKKU is leading a major revival of Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage, makgeolli, here in the States. When getting introduced to makgeolli, you can think of it like Korean rice beer, founder Carol Pak says, but really, this special drink is in a category all its own. It’s made from rice, nuruk (a traditional fermentation starter), and water, and it’s “roughly filtered” (which is what “makgeolli” means), so the rice sediment adds to the flavor and body of the drink. This all equals a study in perfect balance: creamy, but cut with a fizz of carbonation; tart, but rounded out with a touch of sweetness.

MAKKU makes makgeolli in original, blueberry, and mango flavors, meaning that these beverages are an ideal option any time on their own, but they also lend themselves incredibly well to cocktails, and what a way to totally breathe new life into your mixology game. MAKKU will introduce fresh elements to any recipe, bringing a creamy finish and enhancing everything from fruit to botanicals with its tart-meets-sweet profile. There are lots of “MAKKtails” on MAKKU’s site, but to kick off that springtime mood, we’re starting with the MAKKU Blueberry Gin Fizz.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. MAKKU Blueberry
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Bouquet of basil for garnish

Step 1: Put fresh ice in a Collins glass.

Step 2: Add MAKKU Blueberry, gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice to your shaker and shake.

Step 3: Strain into the iced glass.

Step 4: Garnish with basil!

 

Lunar Ume (Plum) Highball

In addition to top quality and real ingredients, Lunar hard seltzer stands out featuring fruits integral to Asian cuisine. Imbibers have seriously swooned for the bright, bold, irresistible flavors of yuzu, lychee, and plum. Founders Kevin Wong and Sean Ro even source authentically: the yuzu from Japanese farms, the lychee from Thailand, the plums from Korea.

With beautiful aroma and flavor profiles like this, Lunar seltzers also make a game-changing foundation for cocktails. They’ll reinvigorate even the most tried and true mixing options on your bar cart. We asked Kevin and Sean for one of their current favorites, and they happened to have an especially spring-perfect pick. They’ve created the Ume, or Plum, Highball to celebrate the end of the plum blooming season in Japan. In February and March, plum blossoms are among the first to open up for the year, and really kick off spring. What better way to toast the season than with a plum Lunar tipple?

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. Lunar Plum Hard Seltzer
  • ¾ oz. whisky (“Any whisky will work for this recipe as long as it's not too peaty,” notes Kevin.)
  • ½ tsp ginger juice (from crushed or grated fresh ginger)
  • Thinly sliced ginger for garnish

Step 1:  Prepare ginger juice by grating a portion of fresh ginger and squeezing/straining out the juice.

Step 2: Fill a tall glass with ice.

Step 3: Combine the whisky and ginger juice in a small glass or cocktail shaker and pour down the side of the glass.

Step 4: Top with Lunar Plum Hard Seltzer, once again pouring down the side of the glass. 

Step 5: Stir gently and garnish with a ribbon of thinly sliced ginger. Serve immediately.

 

Nectar Lychee Fizz

Maybe the only thing more refreshing than a superbly flavored hard seltzer is how Asian and Asian-American-owned brands are growing and shaping the market. Nectar, the super fun brand that went viral on Tik Tok, has more than proven there’s substance behind its irresistible image, and fans have definitely taken notice. Flavors like Asian Pear, Lychee, Yuzu, and Mandarin breathe much needed new life into the beverage scene, introducing fresh flavors, fresh culture, and fresh staples in your imbibing routine. 

The team at Nectar has concocted a cocktail recipe that isn’t just amplified by the lychee variety, but celebrates it. The Lychee Fizz is so bursting with bubbles and beautiful lychee flavor that we can’t imagine it won’t become your go-to cool-down on sunny days. You can watch Tik Tokker @Barchemistry make this gem, and point out that it’s also a great tipple for sticking to health routines, here

Ingredients: 

Step 1: Add rum, puree, lime juice, and ice to a shaker, and well, shake it like a Polaroid.

Step 2: Strain into a glass.

Step 3: Top that with the Nectar Lychee Seltzer. 

Step 4: Garnish with fresh lychees. 

 

Owl’s Brew Watermelon Gin Spritz 

One of the driving forces for Owl’s Brew is to create beautifully flavored hard teas that are actually natural. Because, believe it or not, so many of those “natural flavors” we see advertised by big companies are also just chemicals. Owl’s Brew is just tea, plain and simple, because you don’t need anything more and in fact adding anything more would just take away from the magic that happens when Darjeeling tea combines with strawberry and hibiscus. 

 So now, just think of what these kinds of flavors and aromas would bring to a cocktail, how they’d mingle with the other flavors and aromas of whatever else you stir or shake in, and how your resulting tipple would be gloriously--actually--natural. The Owl’s Brew team created a recipe for a watermelon gin spritz, gin being a great partner here with its own botanicals. 

Ingredients: 

Step 1: Add ice to a glass.

Step 2: Pour Owl’s Brew White Tea & Watermelon Boozy Tea, gin, and lemon juice into the glass and stir.

Step 3: Garnish with berries and enjoy!

 

Downeast Cider Blackberry Lemonade Mojito

Downeast Cider is known for its unfiltered cider, which means peak flavor and aroma. You get an absolute explosion of apple--or blackberry, or whatever variety you choose--in every sip, with a lush mouthfeel cut by the cider’s crisp, clean perfection. It’s the definition of real, natural, craft cider.

We can’t imagine that doesn’t sound refreshing enough on its own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun and see what else a Downeast cider can do. As we head into warmer months, patio season, and a time of at least dreaming about an island getaway, something got us in the mood for a mojito. Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, it was super easy to find a mojito recipe reinvented by blackberry cider for something fresh, new, and fruity. We got this from Short Girl Tall Order.

Ingredients: 

  • Downeast Cider Blackberry
  • 1 ½ oz. rum
  • Lemonade
  • ¼ cup fresh blackberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint

Step 1: Muddle the blackberries and mint in a tall glass.

Step 2: Top with the rum, the lemonade, and the Downeast Cider Blackberry. You can play with the lemonade and cider proportions depending on your tastes; personally, we’re partial to the cider.

Step 3: Add some ice, bonus points for crushed ice.

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