Anything But Classic

Reinventions of Traditional Cocktails

Falling somewhere between the new age of craft cocktails and the traditional recipes that collectively established cocktails as a drink category in the first place, these concoctions are based in history, shaken
in uncanny ways, and voilà! You have the drinkable version of Audrey Hepburn dressed in Off-White – and what could be cooler on a summer day?


Everyone’s favorite wine cocktail usually just comes in red or white, but here are two other versions to try. At The Surf Lodge in Montauk, whose concerts and events annually rank as highlight parties of the summer, the Sangria recipe starts with rosé, then adds top-notch Zirkova Together Vodka; St. Germaine; and a heap of grapes, berries, pomegranate seeds, grapefruit, and lemon. The quality of the alcohol and antioxidant- packed fruits help ward off hangovers as long as possible, though the pitcher-only portions might find you pouring more than expected.

While Wölffer Estate Vineyards in Sagaponack might be the supplier for many other local sangria bases, its own two recipes employ a bit of imagination. At the vineyards’ Wölffer Kitchen restaurant in Amagansett, the drink comes refreshingly as Wölffer rosé mixed with cognac, Chambord, cucumber, mint, and berries, while at Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor, it comes as a blended red emboldened by Goslings rum, apples, oranges, and spices. (183 Edgemere St., Montauk; 4 Amagansett Square Dr., Amagansett; 29 Main St., Sag Harbor)



A passion fruit and chili whiskey fizz? A fig sour? The Topping Rose House, with its esteemed architectural history, 22 rooms of top-notch luxury and acre of gardens supplying its culinary concepts, has given as much attention to each of the five cocktails on its bar menu as it has the art collection bedecking the walls of its Jean-Georges restaurant.

This summer, it’s adding to its list a new version of the Tom Collins, which might be called the original hard lemonade. Here, the classic drink of gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water gets a plush twist, swapping out the spirit for artisanal vodka maker Black Infusion’s new ‘gold apricot’ vodka, made in small batches with whole California apricots. Impress your date with a casual mention that in Latin, apricots are synonymous with “precious” – which this drink altogether is. (1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton)



If you’re looking to go to Margaritaville but perhaps not waste away in it, here’s a suggestion: skip the $5 happy hours of Jose Cuervo and lime-green additives and go for a quality-over-quantity approach instead. Now largely regarded as the best Mexican in the Hamptons, Union Cantina is the top spot to find such a drink, with no less than three bars in-house and a tequila speakeasy downstairs with more than 100 kinds of the agave liquor.

For an interesting twist on the classic – though those come highly recommended here as well – consider the Apple Cider Margarita, which swirls Herradura tequila with apple cider fresh-pressed at Long Island orchards and fresh lime. You’ll spend approximately $9 more, but it will be worth it. (40 Bowden Square, Southhampton)


As the classic cocktail chameleon, the martini can be whatever you want it to be – flirty, handsome, salty, strong. At Montauk Beach House hotel, whose backyard pools are stage for long day parties and lounge sessions that can go from noon until sunrise, the martini plays the role of the pick-me-up, with vodka and Kahlua as the base for a shot of espresso from local coffee roaster Left Hand and a dash of vanilla liqueur. Sweet and satiny, the aptly called Left Handed Martini comes best early in the day to get things going or later at night to keep yourself on a roll.

Meanwhile, in the lounge at the Americana wonderland of Baron’s Cove resort in Sag Harbor, happy hours from Sundays until Thursdays offer a range of $10 specialties, including the Pistachio Martini. Somewhat surprisingly, this experiment proves that mixing vanilla vodka with Amaretto, Bailey’s, and blue Curaçao yields a result surprisingly akin to the shelled green nut. Come on Wednesdays, and the Cove’s weekly jazz series will provide a live soundtrack. (55 South Elmwood Ave., 31 W. Water St., Sag Harbor)