Bartenders Predict What Will Be DC’s Summer Drink of 2019

Frosé is out. Here's what's in.

Spanish-style gin and tonic at McClellan's Retreat. Photo by Brian Nixon.

Over the last couple summers, we’ve sipped a lot of frosé and pina coladas. What’s everyone going to be drinking during patio season this year? We asked local bartenders for the predictions.

Natural Light’s Naturdays Strawberry Lemonade Beer
“I saw it on social media, and everybody was making fun of it and talking about how gross it was going to be. So the first thing I did was buy a 30-pack of it. It’s one of the most delicious concoctions I’ve ever tasted. It’s like a really gross swimming pool in your friend’s backyard, but you want to get in it anyway and you’re going to have a good time.” —Lauren McGrath, Bar Manager at DC9

Spanish-Style Gin and Tonic
“Gin and tonics served in a goblet with some herbs and citrus alongside a little bottle of tonic is the way to go this year. It’s a bright, refreshing drink, and the guest can control how diluted they want it.” —Brian Nixon, Bar Manager at McClellan’s Retreat and Truxton Inn

Light-Bodied, Chilled Red Wine
“It’s something that the wine community strayed away from for a while because there was this totally false belief that the bigger the better and that red wines were meant to be drank with lots of tannin and lots of structure and really heavy aromatics. Right now, what I’ve seen and what I’ve been enjoying is a lot of really, really super light red wines that we chill down to almost white wine temperatures. Just super quaffable, crushable patio-pounders.” —Carlie Steiner, co-owner and Beverage Director at Himitsu

Gin Rickey
“Bartenders are taking the constrictions of the rickey, taking those simple ingredients, and really pushing the boundaries of flavor. There’s some really cool gins out there that people are starting to play with in rickeys. It’s light, it’s low-ABV, and you can drink a pitcher of them.” —Andrea Tateosian, President of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild

“What I mean specifically is like a vodka soda, a whiskey soda—the old-school, traditional approach. People are starting to really get hip to the simplicity of it and the fact that it’s low-cal. Our younger consumers these days, they’re a little bit more conscious of that stuff.” —Jon Arroyo, Beverage Director for Farmers Restaurant Group

Blanched and Shocked Herb Water
“Particularly with green herbs, their vibrant color can often get lost in a cocktail. Like a mint julep is never green, but there’s definitely mint involved. What I do is I take an insane amount of mint, throw it in boiling hot, super salty water for exactly 22 seconds, then immediately shock it in an ice bath. What this does is neutralize the browning enzyme in the mint. You then take that and puree it into water [and strain it]. Water is a super integral part of every cocktail, so why not make that water bright green and flavorful? It’s perfect for mocktails and for spa water, but it also is fantastic for cocktails.” —Julien-Pierre Bourgon, Bar Manager at Gravitas

“Applebee’s did so much damage to the daiquiri’s reputation. For a long time, their daiquiris were in the frozen machines. Just super sweet, super sour mix, shitty rum. So many people think about that when they see ‘daiquiri,’ and not the traditional cocktail you know and love if you’re woke to it.” —Zac Hoffman, bartender at Roy Boys

Additional reporting by Anna Spiegel

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.