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Naked Epicurean: Pineapple Ink’s toast to summer

(Disclaimer: Any opinion contained in this column is that of its author)

Cocktail enthusiasts, unite! Our old friend Summer is back, so let’s toast its arrival by cheers-ing with a cocktail from the captivatingly vivacious new menu at Pineapple Ink Tavern

With Jason behind the bar smacking herbs and slinging premium spirits, the entire restaurant vibrates with vim + vigor. He has whipped up some bevvies inspired by seasonal berries bursting with flavor as well as an eponymous pineapple sipper, a tropical fruit tipple, and a nod to Cuba’s literary lion. Each of these intoxicating treats is guaranteed to tingle your headspace. 

Warm months = an abundance of fresh berries, and the transformation of berries into Menta Azul is exhilarating. It’s a triple threat of blueberries — muddled, pureed and infused — served in a tall, icy highball glass. Muddling the blueberries subdues the richness of the liquor and gives this drink an über-lovely hue. Atop this juicy jamboree is a fizzy splash and an herby greeting from a sprig of mint. It’s easy to get lost in this deliciousness, so sip sensibly. 

Menta Azul. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

Strawberry Shock is a pleasant comingling of plump strawberries + citrus. Jason uses Citron vodka and a bright spritz of fresh lemon to craft this berrylicious sweet + tart cocktail reminiscent of lemonade. He adds a trickle of simple syrup to quell the vodka’s punch, all for your drinking pleasure. Pro tip: Be sure to lick the sugary rim for even more rapturous delight.

Strawberry Shock. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

For the The Pineapple Smash, Jason  starts with a rough muddling of fresh pineapple — just enough to release the juice but leave an aesthetic of beautiful skin. He then adds Del Maguey — a mezcal so rich in texture, flavor and aroma that it warms the palate–and some spicy Ancho Reyes liqueur whose heat and smokiness are a welcomed foil to the sweetness of pineapple juice. This drink rates high on the “you’re about to be tipsy” scale, so proceed with caution.

The Pineapple Smash. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

Tanqueray gin, guava puree, and a splash of crisp grapefruit + lime juices make Guajava fruity yet light. A hint of orange blossom water gives this tipple a lovely floral kiss, and a fresh orchid poised on the rim lends another layer of zhuzh. This just-sweet-enough easy-on-the-eyes composition of verve provides welcomed relief on a humid afternoon. Its allure is sure to either rouse you to book a tropical trip or order another Guajava. Either is a win.

GuaJava. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

The construction of Heming’s Way reads like one of Papa’s novels. It begins with a delightful grapefruit infused vodka to which Jason then adds fresh juices. The plot thickens with the introduction of complex Licor 43, a recipe consisting of 43 harmoniously botanical + florally nuanced ingredients. A tempestuous menage of hibiscus, açai berry and pepper known as Burlesque Bitters enters the scene. She’s sweet, spicy and a bit tart — a flirty companion for drinks served in jazzy venues where “garters are de rigueur” — and she holds the reader captive. Heming’s Way is a light but lusty pour, full of intention and elegant in its coupe. You’ll want to integrate this page-turner into your brunch ritual STAT. 

Heming’s Way. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

By now you’re probably convinced there’s no better way to enjoy warm weather than imbibing summer sippers with your bestie, S.O. or just your fabulous solo self. Trust the clever guy behind the bar who’s delivering joie de vivre on the reg and dip into Pineapple Ink Tavern to celebrate the exuberance of life. And as usual, my friends, don’t forget to tell them nakedepicurean sent you. 

Pineapple Ink Tavern is open 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Ann Beth Strelec is known around town as Naked Epicurean. This cocktail connoisseur also has mad skills in the kitchen and on the grill.

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