Spring is back and with it are the parched throats of stir-crazy folks looking to enjoy some drinks outside. The pandemic-induced restrictions are slowly loosening, and food and drink vendors are pulling out the stops to bring in the customers they lost in the last year. Many of their new specials that are not to be missed.
Here are a few new offerings — plus some classics — to get acquainted with:
Cà Phê Sữa đá (Vietnamese-style iced coffee) from Vietnam Restaurant
If you’re an iced coffee fanatic, once you try this drink, you may never be able to go back to “normal” iced coffee. Vietnamese coffee is extra concentrated because it’s made with a small metal drip filter that compresses the coffee grounds more than other filters. The coffee is then mixed with condensed milk and poured over ice. As the ice melts and the condensed milk dissolves, the coffee’s bitter edge softens to become more palatable, resulting in a strong, refreshing, but not-too-sweet iced coffee.
Some people don’t not enjoy bitter coffee, so many eateries add in extra sweeteners to appeal to the general public, but the taste isn’t quite right without a slight bitter edge. Vietnam Restaurant's ice coffee hits a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness.
Espresso Italian Soda from Provisions Market Hall
This soda is one of four spring specials on Provisions Market Hall’s menu, and the mild taste of coffee mixed with sparkling soda is not a combination for everyone. But this drink actually has a shot of espresso in it, so instead of the excessively sweet taste that many flavored Italian sodas have, it is slightly bitter with the same satisfying bubbliness.
Guava Lime Fruit Tea from Bobahead
For the warm days ahead, this is an absolute must-try. It’s not so sweet that you can’t taste the fruit and tea itself, a rarer feat since most places typically pile on the sugar in their drinks. The guava and lime make the drink slightly tart without being outright sour.
Although you can get boba or other toppings with it, the syrups that they are typically packaged in will alter the taste. If you do want toppings, it’s best to get the lychee jelly or popping boba to keep the fruity flavor strong in this tea.
Jacobsen Honey Latte with Lavender from Meraki Coffee
While a floral theme for spring isn’t groundbreaking, the lavender added into Meraki’s honey latte gives this drink a soft, comforting floral aroma. Honey-laden drinks have become trendier in the last couple of years, and for good reason. Meraki’s honey lattes are made with raw American wildflower honey and are sweet enough to balance out the faint bitterness that accompanies an unsweetened latte. If lavender is not a flavor you enjoy, their cardamom rose latte is another excellent floral special to get into a spring mood.
Pomona Grapefruit Goddess from Thinking Tree Spirits
For spring, Thinking Tree Spirits released pomona grapefruit gin, which is the star of this gorgeous pink cocktail. Mixed with grapefruit juice, hibiscus syrup and sparkling water, it produces a slight tartness that’s immediately quenched by how refreshing and light it is. This drink is perfect if you want something light and smooth that screams “spring is upon us.”
French Peach Mimosa from Jazzy Ladies Cafe & Coffeehouse
This is not an easy mimosa to sip on during Sunday brunch, but the mix of Cava champagne and Raynal brandy is not to miss out. Recently added to the menu, the house-made peach syrup lends a light sweetness to the drink which is otherwise strong for so early in the day. At $10 a glass, the French Peach Mimosa is on the pricier side compared to other mimosas. But with the sunshine out and longer days to soak it in ahead, it’s a plus that Jazzy Ladies’ cocktails are also available for takeout so you can slowly recover from the buzz at home.
Lemon Ginger Shu-hi from Meiji Ramen
This lemonade-esque drink is perfect for sipping on its own or accompanied by Meiji Ramen’s variety of small plates. It doesn’t have the extra tart or sugary aftertaste that accompanies most seltzers, but instead is smooth. Consisting of organic sake, clarified lemon and ginger juice and seltzer, its aftertaste is not heavy like traditional seltzers or mixed lemonades either. If you’ve never tried sake, this and the other selections available at Meiji are a great starting place.