There’s nothing sexier than a summertime cocktail, especially when it’s consumed on a rooftop bar, far away from everyday life.
“We believe that a good rooftop cocktail is a cocktail that is refreshing, attractive and unique,” says E.P. & L.P. bartender Sergio Gonzales from his hip spot with a prime view of the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip.
“The best rooftop cocktails are cool, refreshing and not overly complicated. They focus on clean flavors, incorporating seasonal fruit and produce to conjure a sense of a ‘vacation in a glass,’” agrees Piero Procida, food and beverage director, The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills.
The Hotel Erwin overlooking the famous Venice Beach at the Pacific Ocean in California was voted one of the best hotel rooftops in the USA by Fodor’s Travel. Executive Chef Aaren Gutierrez offers seasonal cocktails that speak to summer vibes and swimsuit season. “We see a shift in the summer from wine and heavier spirits to vibrant cocktails. The ‘frosé’ [frozen rosé] craze is here and we take it to another level, blending with citrus rum, lemonade, peaches, and cranberry,” says Gutierrez. “Sometimes a little dark rum is just enough to warm you up when that ocean breeze kicks in.”
“Frojitos” kick it up another notch, combining mojito ingredients with frosé. “We use basil and lavender from our herb garden for muddling and garnishing, and citrus is always a staple. As we enter summer, juicy watermelon, peaches and summer berries always dominate the menu,” Gutierrez says.
The hotel’s cocktail program integrates spirits with clean, fresh, homegrown herbs from the rooftop garden. The “My Little Pony” is another bestseller: Vodka with a blend of summer strawberries, ginger beer, and basil.In a DIY mood? “Play around with a combination of fresh-pressed citrus juices, fresh herbs, fresh fruit and berries,” says Gutierrez. “Make sure you have plenty of ice on hand—you’ll need it for shaking up your spirit of choice with muddled herbs and berries. Cut fruit in advance to save time when you have all your friends asking for a cocktail.”
You’ll also want to match your cocktails appropriately with your food. “Moscow Mules pair best with a burger. The kick of the ginger complements the sweet and tangy combination of ketchup and mustard,” says Gutierrez. For fish, try rosé sangria with Cointreau, brandy and fresh-pressed orange juice paired alongside a tender, seared salmon filet. Vegetarian entrées do well with an Aperol spritz—try matching with the light and freshness of roasted veggies with vegan coconut tzatziki sauce.
Here are some recipes to get you started on your own rooftop (or even from your couch):
The Hotel Erwin’s Summer Spritz: Equal parts (2 oz each) Prosecco, Aperol, and Lillet poured into a wine glass or highball over ice, gently stirred then garnished with an orange slice.
The London West Hollywood’s Churchill Goes Tiki: Combine 2 oz Four Roses bourbon, 2 oz
pineapple juice, 1 oz orange juice, 1 oz orgeat, two dashes 1821 Japanese Chili and Lime Bitters. Blend all ingredients with ice for 15 seconds or until very smooth, and garnish with a pineapple slice, edible oleander, and pineapple leaves.
E.P. & L.P. Frozé Frozen Cocktail: Mix 2.5 oz rosé, ½ oz vodka, ½ oz pomegranate juice and ½ oz herbal citrus liqueur such as Bénédictine, and garnish with berries and an orchid.