The Main Squeeze

These days, toasts are happening in backyards, not bars. We’ve scoured the best recipes using this season’s produce from top mixologists and local residents alike.

Posted on June 1, 2020

Mat McBriar, the Australian punter who played for the Chargers, Cowboys, Eagles, and Steelers, retired to Solana Beach with his wife Erin, kids, and dogs. The draw: The healthy lifestyle. Erin, a self-professed SoulCycle addict, has been spinning through the quarantine with a little help from Del Mar instructor Remi Sullivan, aka “The Remidee,” who creates next-level playlists for her at-home classes. A Dallas native, Erin loves to entertain in her backyard, crafting skinny cocktails like her “French 75” — a favorite summertime sip.

Mat and Erin McBriar

Mat and Erin McBriar

 

“French 75”

2 oz. gin (preferably Hendrick’s)
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
Champagne to top

Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker full of ice. Give a good shake, then pour into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

“French 75”

“French 75”

 


Happy hour at home shouldn’t be a challenge for anyone with an abundant garden, a well-stocked fridge, and a few classic bottles of booze. Dutch House, the barkeep at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, recommends an easy-to-mix cocktail he calls “There and Back Again.” It is a fresh, uplifting, and zippy libation akin to a gin and tonic with a few notable upgrades, namely simple syrup and club soda in place of tonic. House says he was inspired by a typical San Diego summer day along with the fresh produce he has been seeing at his local farmers market. He recommends locally-based You & Yours gin to keep it as truly “San Diego” as possible.

“I don’t know anything about pandemics or viruses, but I know cocktails,” laughs House. “I know of the power of the cocktail to bring people together, to forget all that is going on, and just enjoy a moment of respite. As we return from the small orbit we are in now to the greater sphere of society at large, I hope this can in some small way bring together what we knew with what is to come.”

 

“There and Back Again”

2 oz. gin (preferably You & Yours Sunday Gin)
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (If you can’t do fresh, try Perricone Farms)
1 oz. simple syrup
Club soda to top
Leaves from one 3- to 4-inch rosemary stem
4 to 5 cherries, pitted and halved

Add rosemary leaves and cherries to a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Then add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to the shaker. Shake all ingredients together. Double strain into a Collins glass, topping with your favorite club soda (I am a big fan of Q Drinks). Now sit back, pull off your mask, and enjoy.

“There and Back Again”

 


From Kettner Exchange, SDCM Restaurant Group Beverage Director Claire Sexton (who will also oversee the beverage program at The Waverly, slated to open in Cardiff) has created the “Smoked Sun.”

“This is an agave-based riff off the classic caipirinha cocktail. You can use cachaca or, my favorite, Yola Mezcal Espadin,” explains Sexton. “You can substitute out the cilantro for any other garden herbs like mint, basil, or sage, and get really creative with modifications at your own bar. There’s no need to juice when you press fresh limes. I find myself reaching for clean classic cocktails this time of year. No need to complicate! Just citrus, sweet, and spirit.”

“Smoked Sun”

4 limes wedges
¾ oz. rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water ratio. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer for 5 minutes, let cool)
1½ oz.  Yola Mezcal (or any mezcal)
8 cilantro leaves

Muddle limes and cilantro. Add simple syrup and mezcal. Add cubed ice. Shake, dump into rocks glass. Add ice on top and soda water (optional).

“Smoked Sun”

 

By Jackie Bryant

McBriars: Photography by Vincent Knakal
“There and Back Again”: Photo by Dutch House
“Smoked Sun”: Photo by Claire Sexton