When you can ride your bike to any number of local farms and farm stands, it makes you scratch your head as to why you’d ever darken the door of a supermarket for fresh (and long-trekked) produce, at least in the growing seasons.
That idea — eating seasonally and tuning into what’s growing all around you — was the bumper-crop inspiration for barman Jason Hedges’s new book, The Seasonal Cocktail (May 2023, Bar IQ), a season-by-season guide to creative, gorgeous fresh cocktails created by Hedges, illustrated by his wife, Sonya, and shot by photographer Shannon Sturgis.
Hedges, a founding partner of the beverage consulting firm, Bar IQ, who published the book, is the beverage director for several of Laurent Tourondel’s New York-based restaurants (Tourondel also owns Sag Pizza and the newly opened eLTacobar, both in Sag Harbor), but his deep passion for looking to the here and now and local for ingredients came from his time bartending at the French Culinary Institute’s restaurant, L’Ecole, where a chef-driven mindset infused itself into his cocktail creations like beet stains on the skin.
Writes Hedges: “I can muddle my mint in January and mull my hot rum cider in August heat. The point is, I don’t want to… Like our ancient ancestors, we still feel deeply within our viscera the pull of the seasons. Our bodies resonate with the rotations of the Earth. No matter how hard supermarkets try to convince us otherwise, our palates crave the seasonal flavors of our forbears.”
It’s some deep thinking on drinking. But isn’t that what a great cocktail does? A little gentle and spirited lubrication and maybe you quote a little poetry, or scrawl some on a cocktail napkin. Nothing wrong with that. His notions aren’t just romantic, though; they’re practical, too. We should eat (and drink) what’s grown right around us for a multitude of rightly righteous reasons, but the best and simplest one: It all tastes better.
And so will your cocktails. We’re a few weeks away from wild wine berries being ready for the picking along roadsides and on the sun-kissed edges of woods, but berries are hitting farm stands all over — an excellent excuse to try Hedges’s Bergamotto Blackberry Spritz. Cheers to your local farmer!
Bergamotto Blackberry Spritz
- 1 1/2 oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 5 ripe blackberries
- La Marca brut prosecco
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 lemon peel