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Delicious drinks featuring nature’s bounty

Posted on March 30, 2017

Spring has sprung following an especially rainy winter, which means San Diego is freshly green and brightly blooming. When raising a glass to sunnier days, consider choosing a cocktail that tastes like it was plucked straight from the garden.

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The Aloe Black from Campfire

Carlsbad, with its famous Flower Fields and farm-to-table restaurants, is a good destination for botanical-inspired cocktails. Campfire, located in the village, is one of the latest and greatest additions. The restaurant prides itself on its inventive, market-driven cocktail menu, a philosophy also employed for its food menu. For spring, bar manager Leigh Lacap unveiled an inspired drink that skews both green and floral, called the “Aloe Black.” Found in the “Shaken & Refreshing” drinks section, it includes tequila, crème de violette, aloe vera, and lemon. For larger groups, consider a growler size portion (yes, for cocktails) of the “Everything Nice,” a concoction of plum, lavender, Earl Grey, lemon, and gin.

The city also will host Petal to Plate, a ten-day festival from April 20 to 30 coinciding with the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour. The event places seasonal, local, and sustainable American-grown flowers in the center of the table alongside food, beer, and wine produced in the same vein. For this event, the Park Hyatt Aviara created a special cocktail called the “Carlsbad Wise,” which is a mix of gin, citrus, and borage flowers.

Down in Mission Hills is the hip Bar by Red Door, the newly opened bar next door to one of the city’s favorite farm-to-fork restaurants, The Red Door. The focus here is ethically-sourced, sustainable drink ingredients, which includes homemade syrups, fresh herbs, and other goodies from local farms and the owners’ garden. Bartender Jonathan Yergler whipped up several creations for me. First up was jasmine-infused vodka, rosemary, black currant liqueur, lavender bitters, lemon, lime, and a pinch of sea salt. It was exceptionally drinkable and fresh on the nose, with a back-end bite from the salt.

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Bar by Red Door

Yergler’s second drink used bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, elderflower liqueur, basil, and strawberry. A refreshing tonic, it was markedly sweeter than the first but just as delicious. The third, which was off-the-cuff, was herbal and green as a garden, thanks to the Chartreuse. Mixed with crushed ice, gin, lime, luxardo, and a sprig of mint, it was a most perfect introduction to springtime in San Diego.   Jackie Bryant

Campfire: Photo by Lyudmila Zotova     Red Door: Photo by Jackie Bryant

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