Dallas Bartenders Are Making Cocktail Magic with Fresh Produce Right Now

It's closing in on July and we still haven't cracked triple digits. And while everyone cringes every time I jinx the weather by declaring this the greatest summer ever, it's hard not to notice we're having a brilliant summer so far. If you've been to your local farmers market lately, you might have noticed that in addition to positive dispositions, this weather is great for growing produce.

So if you haven't hit up your local market, now is the time. And if you're tired of salads and vegetable stir-fries, there's another way to enjoy this summer bounty -- get drunk with it. You'll have to add alcohol, of course, but that's exactly what some area bartenders are doing as excess produce lands in local restaurants and bars.

At FT33, bartender Lauren Festa nabs some peaches that might have otherwise ended up in a pie and mixes them in a cocktail with Bulleit rye. Before they hit the cocktail shaker, the peaches are macerated with thyme, orange zest, lemon juice and honey, and then obliterated in a shaker with rye and sweet vermouth before the mixture is strained into a glass. She dubs the drink Peaches and Rye, and I had quite a few of them last year while reviewing the restaurant. If you like whiskey drinks that don't get too sweet, this one is for you.

Lucky Campbell is all about melons at Abacus. "We're serving a drink called Meloncholy," he says. It makes use of mixed melon and lemongrass vodka infused at the bar. Basil, orange bitters and an effervescent soda finish things off for a timely summer sipper.

You don't have to go don't have to go to a fine dining restaurant to see farmers market produce floating in your cocktail glass. At Bolsa, Kyle Hilla is playing with lemon cucumbers from Comeback Creek Farms. If you haven't seen one, they're shaped like a lemon, colored like a lemon, but are actually just a mild flavored cucumber. Hilla uses them in a tequila fizz with citrus and an egg white that he finishes with a splash of ginger beer. Sounds almost as healthy as is delicious.

Look, greens are great, but with a little inspiration the farmers market can be a whole lot more fun. Hit up the most inspiring bartender you know this week for a little inspiration and then drag your ass out of bed early to hit your local this Saturday morning. Your next drinking session could become anything from fruity to vegetal, but either way it won't be boring.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz