It’s the emblem of the land I love, and its colors seem to be at their most vibrant as Independence Day draws near.
As I think about the red, white and blue this year, images of libations come to mind that were inspired by our nation’s colors, and these colors are helping to quench our collective thirst this summer.
The beverage that defines the red zone has to be the Bloody Mary, and there are certainly some creative interpretations of this spicy cocktail at restaurants across Southern Arizona. But there’s another red drink to which I was recently introduced that seems to be a better fit for the warmer months.
The Red Sangria at Commoner & Co., 6960 E. Sunrise Drive, begins with a conventional base of red wine and brandy, with lime zest added for an extra zing. The final touch is a strawberry-rosemary gastrique that reportedly takes this red drink right through the roof.
“We introduce strawberries and rosemary into our simple syrup, slowly cooking it all down until it reaches a thick and caramel-like texture,” said Vinh Nguyen, assistant general manager.
Nguyen says this brings a natural fruit sweetness and herbaceousness to the classic cocktail that suddenly takes on a delicious new dimension.
The Red Sangria is part of a tri-color spectrum of sangrias on the Commoner & Co. menu, which also includes white and rose versions.
While you may expect me to fill the white space on our bar palette with cocktails like the White Russian or piña colada, this year’s nod goes to the Blanco White IPA from Barrio Brewing Company, 800 E. 16th St.
Though not technically white in color, and that’s a good thing, the Blanco White IPA has bright and crisp notes of citrus that Barrio’s owner Dennis Arnold tells me makes for some delightful summertime suds.
“Some might say that the true test of a great white IPA is to create enough of a malt under structure to support a big beer while at the same time making it invisible, giving a stage to allow the hops to shine,” Arnold said. “So we accepted the challenge and produced just that.”
With an approachable ABV of 6 percent and an IBU count of 60, the Blanco White IPA is available in both draft and cans.
It can be a bit of a challenge for a beverage to capture the true spirit of blue, but the Boom Berry does the trick at Poppy Kitchen, 3770 E. Sunrise Drive.
It’s all about the infusion here. Fresh blueberries bathe in vodka for exactly six days, giving the foundational spirit a light fruit profile, and fresh lime juice is brought in later for some citrus balance. Toss in several of those spiked blueberries and, as general manager Josh Proctor says, “Boom!”
“Those blueberries put the boom in Boom Berry,” said Proctor. “They do pack a bit of a punch, but in no way do they overwhelm this otherwise light and bright summer chiller.”
Proctor features the Boom Berry on his line-up of six tap cocktails representing nearly every color of the rainbow.
Red, white and blue. The colors of our nation. Not only do they represent liberty and freedom, they represent a banner of flavors as well — and forever in peace may they wave.
(Editor’s Note: Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at email@example.com. Russell is also the host of “On the Menu Live” that airs 4-5 p.m. Saturdays on KEVT Power Talk 1210-AM, as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030-AM.)