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Summer picks: A bounty of fresh produce

August is a dream month for sourcing local fruits and vegetables all over the U.S. Here’s what’s at or near its seasonal peak this month:

  • Plums, peaches, and nectarines
  • Blueberries, raspberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet corn
  • Green beans
  • Okra
  • Summer squash (yellow crookneck and zucchini)
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe
  • Herbs of every variety

Chefs are not the only ones dipping into the produce bin—savvy mixologists are also crafting signature cocktails with seasonal ingredients. Keith Dusko, Sr. director of operations and “chief mixologist” for the Haru restaurants, created a summer cocktail menu featuring drinks made with fresh berries, watermelon, basil and more. The produce-centric drinks are refreshing and not too sweet; many use agave nectar instead of sugar syrup and fruit juices and purees for sweetening. Lighter spirits like tequila, vodka and Japanese shochu provide a pleasing balance.

On tap for August is the Kyuri Cooler (shochu, muddled cucumber, agave nectar and basil) and Watermelon Fizz (click for recipe), both $12.

“The cocktails pair really well with our specialty sushi rolls and bar bites. They complement without overpowering the food and provide some fun away from the urban jungle,” says Dusko. Haru has eight locations in Boston and New York.

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