Tucson-area eateries stir up some creative concoctions to keep their customers cool

2013-05-23T00:00:00Z 2013-05-23T10:03:40Z Tucson-area eateries stir up some creative concoctions to keep their customers coolHannah Gaber Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Once summer hits the Sonoran Desert, it can take some enticing to go outside.

That's when some area eateries kick up their drink offerings, with local fruits and dog-day inspired concoctions to cool you. Here's a look at a few local sippers that come out for summertime.

Sangria Iced Teas

Tohono Chul Garden Bistro

7366 N. Paseo del Norte, 742-6455, www.tohonochulpark.org

These chilled, non-alcoholic, loose-leaf teas vary according to the "chef's whim," said Patrick Fahey, operator of the revamped Tohono Chul Garden Bistro.

The "sangria" style refers to the mixture of fresh fruits, juices, berries and aromatics used in crafting the teas, he said. And, of course, especially in summer, the citrus.

"Whether they be white teas, black teas, green teas, we're going to be utilizing a lot of citrus," said Fahey. "Arizona citrus preferably."

He said Arnold Palmers of all sorts are also crowd-pleasers, and the hibiscus blend is a particularly colorful and refreshing variety.

Chef's whim to watch for: A cool customer with a citrus black tea base, laced with pomegranate and infused with fresh berries.

Lavender lemonade

Ghini's French Caffe, 1803 E. Prince Road, 326-9095, www.ghiniscafe.com.

"Lavender grows rampant in the south of France," said Coralie Satta, owner of Ghini's French Caffe.

Satta said from around Mother's Day to Labor Day, the breakfast and lunch hot-spot offers its housemade lemonade infused with fresh French lavender, invoking the "fields of blue forever" that are the sign of summertime in the Provence region of France.

Great by itself, infusing a little vodka and a splash of soda makes a spritzer worthy of languid hours on the patio.

Other ways to while away the hours: The popular Provencale pleaser pastis, an anise and licorice liqueur, is also on the menu, as are, of course, plenty of chilly varieties of wine. Satta said summertime in Marseille means lots of rose wine.

The Desert Dweller

Renee's Organic Oven, 7065 E. Tanque Verde Road, 886-0484, www.reneesorganicoven.com

The prickly pear cactus is as local as any die-hard Tucsonan, and Renee Kreager of Renee's Organic Oven says the syrup is a perfect companion to their organic lemonade.

The virgin version is a vibrant purple elixir welcome to tastebuds of all ages. Kreager says a splash of vodka and lime makes a sweet grown-up treat.

Also on the grown-up menu: The Miel de Vida, a reposado tequila infused with loose-leaf honeybush tea, touched with tart cherry lemon juice, and shaken over ice before being poured into a honey-ringed, sweet-chili and sugar-dipped glass.

"A lot of these drinks will be nice while the temperature is hot," said Kreager, who said the beverages will stay as long as it suits the season.

"If it's still going well," she said, "there's no reason to change it."

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