Ready or not, summer is here, and one of the prime spots to stay cool is along the river.
If you’re like most, your wet ride will end in West Columbia, where the bars along State street are ready to serve you a choice of cold beverages, even if you’re still a little damp. Here, choices from four bartenders along State:
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116 Espresso & Wine Bar
“A shrub is a concentrate that has fruit juices, vinegar and sugar,” said John Kimber, bartender. “It’s a refreshing, interesting summer cocktail. Right now we have a watermelon-basil. Next is going to be strawberry-balsamic. I plan to do something with peaches at some point. But it’s going to change throughout the summer. On the menu, it says ask what the current shrub blend and spirit is. I’m recommending rum, just because I think it’s a crowd-pleaser, but I think they’re super tasty with that little tang from tequila or the smokiness from mezcal.”
Perfect Thyme-ing Bellini
“It’s a very summer drink. It’s got the light citrus with bubbly champagne, and it mixes very well,” said Rachel McLean, bartender. “It’s a very refreshing beverage. And then the garnish with the lemon and thyme just add for an aromatic experience when you drink it. Before I worked here, I would come in, and it was one of my top favorites.”
Neon Gypsy’s Blood Orange IPA
State Street Pub
“Really big right now is flavoring, like the blood orange IPA. Everyone wants something with fruit,” said Jayson Larman, bartender. “It’s refreshing. I could go through a keg in a week. This one is a little sweeter, and that’s what people like now. And now that it’s getting hot, that’s the stuff everyone wants to go to. If they’ve been drinking lighter beers on the river all day, they can come here and get something that’s a little bit of a step up.”
Smoke on the Water
“I threw this drink together in my head,” said Andy Haddock, bartender. “Strawberry-rhubarb is a traditional great pairing. Agave goes good with lime, so I used lime juice. I’ve always liked chartreuse, so I thought it would be a good component to add. A lot of people compare mezcal to tequila, but tequila is made in Tequila (a city in the Mexican state Jalisco) and mezcal is made in (the Mexican state) Oaxaca and they smoke the agave. It’s a different technique. And mezcal is kind of a new craze. People are becoming more receptive to it.”