Odes to the Juniper Liquor
Is gin summer’s favorite alcohol? Light and aromatic, the spirit lends itself well to a number of recipes that involve fruit, herbs and loads of ice – and, its lower calorie count compared to other alcohols doesn’t hurt during swimsuit season either. Save the G&T for home; here are other options to try.
GIN + JUICE AT NAVY BEACH (16 Navy Rd., Montauk)
Big navy umbrellas shading the sands by Fort Pond Bay are a hallmark signof summer in the Hamptons. Famed for its unfettered sunset views, Navy Beach is one of the classiest yet relaxed watering holes around, where you can keep your feet in the sand as you dine on sustainable fare and fine rosé, of which there is an extensive selection. But before pairing bottles with your dinner of Maryland crab cakes with smoked yogurt or roasted scallops with sweet peas and pancetta, start with a cocktail and a happy-hour snack. The Parm fries with herbs and Reggiano aioli are a requisite, as are spritzes, martinis, and – for something more colorful – the Gin + Juice. Made of Hendricks, lemonade, mint, berries and a splash of sparkling water, it’s an easy one to toss back before popping inside for a bit of pre-dinner perusing at the restaurant’s new shop.
LAZY BEE AT NICK & TONI’S (136 N Main St., East Hampton)
Speaking of Hamptons institutions, East Hampton’s Nick & Toni’s just might be seated as the ruler of them all. For more than 30 years, this Tuscan eatery has offered its service to the stars. When Martha Stewart isn’t filming in her kitchen and Alec Baldwin isn’t advocating for Indigenous rights at the U.N., Nick & Toni’s is where they come sit back and relax with some gnocchi and a glass of nice white. This is also to say that snagging a table here can be diffcult, and once achieved, should be enjoyed for as long as possible. Before exploring the menu of fine vintages, take time to start with the equally impressive and thoughtfully created cocktail menu, which ranges from clever takes on old favorites – Meyer lemon cosmopolitans and orange-rubbed applejacks – to new inventions and a section specifically devoted to gin. Here resides the charming Lazy Bee, which mixes Barr Hill gin – hailing from a bee farm in Vermont where it’s made with honey– with lemon and chamomile syrup. It’s the buzziest way to relax into
a long meal.
EMPIRE STATE SANGRIA AT ALMOND (1 Ocean Rd., Bridgehampton)
Gin lends itself well to garden cocktails, which is precisely what Almond stirs up: the juicy Empire State Sangria, with rosé from local vineyard Channing Daughters, locally grown rhubarb from Quail Hill Farm, kafir lime, citrus, ginger, Warwick Gin, and St. Germaine. A summery take on the Spanish classic, it’s a perfect sweet, tart, and slightly biting start before venturing into the restaurant’s wine list or the selection of other cocktails aged in oak barrels that go well with this 18-year-old mainstay’s French bistro staples: moules frites, pan- roasted fishes, roasted chicken, and escargot.
THE GALA AT THE SURF LODGE (183 Edgemere St., Montauk)
The salt-haired surfers that installed themselves in The Surf Lodge for wave-filled summers in the 1960s likely never could have imagined that the Fort Pond shanty would become one of the Hampton’s coolest hotels and hottest nightlife spots, but that’s exactly what has happened. But party scene aside, the Lodge is where well-healed creatives – fashion girls, gallery boys, and the like – come for cool dinners of mezze platters, oysters, and vegan pad thai. The drinks are as colorful as the bohemian tiles and textiles adorning the walls and banquettes, such as the powdery pink Lo-Se’spritz with Amaro, rosé, and grapefruit. Our pick? The Gala, with Sipsmith gin made a delicate purple with antioxidant-rich butterfly pea flowers, mixed with lemon and lavender and topped with Prosecco.