Super strong cocktails don’t always pair that well with food — the booze zaps your palate and often overpowers delicate flavors. If you like to imbibe but also want to fully enjoy your meal, meet your new best friend: low ABV cocktails. This drink trend allows you to extend your appetite and your tastebuds as you work your way through a menu, plus you can have a few sippers without feeling sick. Take a peek below at some of the food-friendly cocktails that Boston’s best bartenders are mixing up!
Alcove – Garden Gnome
Alcove’s Garden Gnome blends the season’s bounty into a beverage that’s low ABV but big on flavor and in size. The chilled cocktail (a combination of chopped cucumber, strawberries, Pimm’s, Beefeater gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and ginger ale) is available in individual servings and by the pitcher (just in case you feel like sharing).
ArtScience Culture Lab & Cafe – Witches Sabbath
The Witches Sabbath at ArtScience Culture Lab & Cafe is as lovely to behold as it is to drink. Named in honor of a Goya painting, the featured sipper is made with Lustau Manzanilla sherry, Copper and Kings Absinthe, Midori, lemon and soda water. It’s garnished with a cantaloupe ball and a melon scent cloud, so be sure to inhale deeply.
Backyard Betty’s – Lush Puppies
Backyard Betty’s, located on West Broadway, is changing up the low ABV game with their Lush Puppies. Made in their brand new Slush Puppie machine (the only one left in the Northeast), the childhood-inspired spritz created by General Manager/Beverage Director Mike Baxter features the traditional Slush Puppie base topped with Aperol and bubbles. After the first sip, the only thing on your mind will be ordering another.
Bar Mezzana – Mezzana Spritz
The Mezzana Spritz at Bar Mezzana needs no introduction — it’s kinda their signature move at this South End fave. The spritz comes with peach, campari, soda, Moscato d’Asti (a sweet and sparkling white dessert wine, in case you didn’t know) and is garnished with an orange slice.
Better Sorts Social Club – Sherry Cobbler
Leave it to Naomi Levy and her crew at Better Sorts Social Club to be on top of this beverage trend with the Sherry Cobbler. Skip dessert and opt for this tasty combination of Manzanilla and Amontillado sherries, cranberry Oloroso syrup, lemon, orange and thyme.
Bistro du Midi – Raspberry Basil Sparkler
Summer standouts make their way onto the cocktail list at Bistro du Midi. A housemade raspberry and basil syrup comes together with some sparkling rosé and a fresh berry or two to make the Raspberry Basil Sparkler, a lovely seasonal treat that also just so happens to be low ABV.
Blossom Bar – Vivir Soñado
Bar manager Will Isaza and his Blossom Bar team have a couple entries in the low ABV category. Head for Brookline Village to try the Vivir Soñando, made with Aperol, macadamia cream, grapefruit, lemon, lavender and sugar. Or opt for the Spanish Remix, a colada style low ABV cocktail that’s made with Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Cruzan Blackstrap rum, Piña milk, sesame and lime.
Chickadee – Flight Club
From their perch at the Innovation and Design Building, Chickadee offers up a tasty trio of low ABV cocktails like Flight Club, Tern Around and Dr. Crane. Get your fine-feathered friends over to the Seaport to try the Flight Club (featured below), which is made with Fighting Cock bourbon, kumquat, lemon and luxardo aperitivo, served in a coupe and garnished with a lemon twist.
Committee Ouzeri + Bar – Keelin’ Thyme
Committee Ouzeri + Bar, over on North Ave in the Seaport, is serving up more Mediterranean flavors with Keelin’ Thyme, a light and refreshing low ABV beverage that combines thyme-infused Keel vodka, Lillet Blanc, Italicus, sparkling wine, honeydew and a squeeze of lemon. Be sure to try this warm weather favorite before summer’s over.
Coppa – Alessio Spritz and Sbagliato
Coppa always has a few low ABV options on the menu – it’s an Italian thing. Make for the South End to enjoy the Alessio Spritz, made with Alessio Bianco, lemon and Prosecco and Sbagliato. Or try out the Sbagliato, which is kinda like a Negroni Lite, made with Prosecco, Campari and Alessio Torino. VIP tip: with low ABV cocktails, you don’t have to choose.
Davio’s – Watermelon Ginger Spritz
At their Boston location, Davio’s is offering up a low ABV sparkler that is made with summer in mind. The Watermelon Ginger Spritz has a classic Aperol and Prosecco base as well as Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters and is finished with soda water and fresh watermelon.
Forage – Rosé Sangria
You can try not to be tempted by Forage’s fruity Rosé Sangria – but why bother? Made with rose, strawberry, wild chamomile, mastic, brandy and blueberries, Forage lets you have all the fun without all the booze.
The Hawthorne – Optimist
The Hawthorne‘s bar manager, Jared Sadoian, created the The Optimist as an homage to all the glass-half-full peoples out there. The tasty summer treat consists of Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula, Amaro Nonino, Maple, E. H. Taylor Barroel Strength and a dash of Mole bitters — and it comes garnished with a orange twist.
The Longfellow Bar – Session Cocktails
They’re big fans of low ABV bevvies at The Longfellow Bar at Alden & Harlow — you can usually find at least three on offer under the Sessions Cocktails section of the drink list. Right now, choose from delights like the Ruby Red (LF Grapefruit Cordial, elderflower and bitters), the Alpine Smash (Alta Verde, Pasubio and mint) and the White Wet Negroni (Lillet Blanc, gin and spritz) which is pictured below.
Saloniki – Santorini Spritz
Saloniki‘s Harvard Square outpost offers an Aperol Spritz with a Greek twist. The Santorini Spritz comes with Aperol, lime, sparkling rose and Rakomelo, a Greek mixed alcoholic drink that combines two types of grape pomace brandy. One sip and you’ll feel like you’re relaxing along the Aegean.
SRV – La Maupin
SRV‘s La Maupin uses gin, dry vermouth, triple sec, campari and a dash of grapefruit bitters. Because of the slight bitter finish and lighter body, this drink makes a refreshing substitute for a negroni on a hot summer’s day. Head to the Columbus Ave. spot to pair it with some cicchetti and enjoy a Venetian evening right in the South End.
Stones Common House – Watermelon Rose Sangria
The Stones Common House & Kitchen‘s Watermelon Rose Sangria made its debut on the menu in honor of National Watermelon Day, but it was so delicious that it’s sticking around for a bit. This Spritz is the patio refresher you’ve have been waiting for all summer, so make your way to Stoneham to get one while they’re still available.
Tamo – St. Germain Spritz
Get to the Seaport’s TAMO Bistro + Bar to try the St. Germain Spritz, a take on the classic aperol-based beverage of a similar name. This light and refined version of the original mixes St. Germain with Prosecco and club soda, and comes garnished with a dried lemon for a extra bit of brightness.
Time Out Market – Amos Tupper’s Tipple
Who is Amos Tupper, you might ask? Newly-opened Fenway food hall, Time Out Market, pays tribute to the “Murder, She Wrote” sheriff with their latest libation. Amos Tupper’s Tipple is a mix of Punt E Mes Vermouth, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Vergano Maraschino, Giffard Pamplemousse, bitters and salt. Much like one of Jessica Fletcher’s mysteries, you won’t be able to put it down.
Viale – Spritz D’asti
Fresh from Viale’s new summer cocktail menu: the Spritz D’asti. This summer sparkler is made with cardamaro, rose, blueberry simple and soda. Just get yourself over to Central Square to enjoy one as part of an effervescent evening on the patio (or, if you prefer, chilling out in the ACed dining room at the venerable Cambridge fave).