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Riding the heat wave

When it comes to summer, chefs and mixologists alike are challenged with offering guests food and libations that are not only satisfying, but also refreshing. Inspiration comes from a variety of places, allowing for menus to flaunt the delightful flavors of summer in cool new ways.

Jan Henrichsen, Found Kitchen and Social House, Evanston, Ill.

Come summer, martinis and manhattans “go straight out the window” at Found Kitchen and Social House, says Jan Henrichsen, “Lady of Libations” and manager of the rustic new American cuisine restaurant.   

“We look at lower ABV (alcohol by volume) cocktails almost immediately when the weather warms up,” says Henrichsen. Lower-proof amaro, vermouth and Maurin de Quina, a French liqueur with cherry, almond and herbal notes, are more likely to be cocktail bases than the bourbons of winter and spring.

Such products are essential for creating “session cocktails,” drinks that customers feel good about reordering in steamy weather. “We lighten everything up and make sure we are not dragging people down,” Henrichsen says.

The drink called The Bitter Sophisticate Goes to Spain epitomizes Henrichsen’s summer style. It’s an iced combo of locally made cola, red wine, Maurin de Quina and lime juice. The wine is typically a cabernet sauvignon, but almost any good, inexpensive, fruity, higher-acid red works well. “People tend to drink more than one,” says Henrichsen.

Another specialty that’s a snap to serve is Tipsy Seasons, a take on the shandy. “We take a 10-ounce glass, toss five ounces of draft beer in there, top it with soda and add half an ounce of amaro,” says Henrichsen. “That’s it.”

Henrichsen says she doesn’t believe customers think much about how cocktail ingredients change in the summer. “I think they just notice that it feels right and they can order two cocktails. They know that, for whatever reason, our cocktails taste really good and go really well with the food. “

Found Menu Sampler:  

  • G&T Rethunk $12; Talk about old school! Letherbee Gin, chinchona bark, grapefruit, ginger and lime.
  • Rhubarb Pisco Sour $12; Housemade rhubarb jam (thanks chef!), pisco, lime, egg white and a float of Combier Rouge Fruits.
  • The Babbling Brooke $15; F.E.W. American Gin, St. Germain and lime.

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