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Entertaining
7 Fruity Cocktails for People Who Don’t Like Fruity Drinks

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People who cringe at the thought of drinking something super sweet usually avoid anything described as “fruity” like the plague. But nixing an entire family of ingredients can leave you in a cocktail rut with nothing to drink but dry Martinis and bitter Negronis. Fruity doesn’t have to mean sweet. In fact, fruit can make a drink bright, tart and refreshing without a sugary flavor, especially when paired with potent spirits and other bold ingredients. Here are our seven favorite “fruity” cocktails that even the most avowed fruit-hater will love.

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The first thing a fruity drink hater will notice about this cocktail from Jim Kearns of NYC’s Slowly Shirley is its color. It’s not bright neon blue; it’s coal black. Activated charcoal lends the drink its dark hue, while dark rum and funky Batavia Arrack give it a pungent, boozy base. This cocktail also uses puréed calamansi, an exceptionally sour fruit that resembles a kumquat. Sorrel liqueur adds more tartness, while ginger syrup rounds out the flavors with a nice spice.

The Essentials

Rum
Batavia Arrack
Boiron Kalamansi purée
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One of the best ways to subtly introduce fruit flavor into a spirit-forward cocktail is by infusing it directly in the liquor. In this cocktail from Anvil in Houston, Jeff Zillmann steeps figs in bourbon—which brings out the fruit’s richer, earthier flavors—and mixes it with Cynar artichoke liqueur. Sweet vermouth, cinnamon and tiki bitters give the drink a spicy, smooth finish.

The Essentials

Fig-Infused Bourbon
Cynar
Punt e Mes Vermouth
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This innovative take on a Sake-tini utilizes the deep, round flavor of blood oranges and dry curaçao to create a complex citrusy flavor. Bartender Waites Laseter from New Orleans’ Root infuses the blood oranges in unfiltered Nigori sake, mixes it with vodka for a boozier punch, and adds a rosemary simple syrup for herbaceousness. The pièce de résistance is the garnish: a flamed rosemary sprig that fills the air with its aroma and provides some social media-friendly visual flair.

The Essentials

nigori sake
Vodka
Rosemary syrup
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Fruit compliments spicy flavors extraordinarily well, as it cools the burning sensation while highlighting some of the heat’s more subtle, vegetal notes. This cocktail shakes ultra spicy green chile-infused vodka with blackberry liqueur and lemon, and gets topped with cucumber-flavored La Croix Muré Pepino. It’s super refreshing and the ultimate effervescent al fresco sipper.

The Essentials

Green Chile Vodka
Crème de Mûre
Muré Pepino La Croix
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You can’t accuse this fruity drink of being a lightweight. Created by Sean Potter of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Stoke, this bracing cocktail uses a heavy pour of white lightning, aka moonshine. The heat of the shine is tempered with slightly bitter, fresh grapefruit juice, lime and spicy-sweet ginger beer. Garnish it with a rosemary sprig and oven-roasted grapefruit slice for a smoky, aromatic finish.

The Essentials

moonshine
Fresh Grapefruit Juice
Ginger Beer
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Traditionally, Sangria is a fruit lover’s dream, mixing together jammy red wine with a host of fresh fruits and sweet liqueurs. For the fruit hesitant, this sherry-based Sangria may be of interest. Fino sherry and dry orange liqueur are infused with mellow yellow plums for a full day in a Mason jar, and the result is a perfect blend of dry, citrusy, nutty and ever so slightly sweet.

The Essentials

Lustau Fino Sherry
combier
Sliced Plums
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Fall’s bounty brings a whole new host of ingredients to incorporate into seasonal cocktails. This drink from Abigail Gullo of NOLA’s Compere Lapin is made with dry sparkling apple cider, smoky scotch, bitter Campari, zesty lemon and a touch of sweet honey—garnished with a grapefruit twist. It tastes like harvest in a glass, and it’s what we’ll be drinking for the entirety of autumn.

The Essentials

scotch
Campari
apple cider

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