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Five spring cocktails: Great warm-weather tipples at bars in NYC

It’s time to lighten up: Clear spirits and fresh produce—from berries to vegetables—are popping up at the city’s best spring bars.

 (Photograph: Krista Schlueter)
Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Stockholm Collins at The Beagle

Akin to a boozy Trojan horse, this tipple conceals caraway-based aquavit—favored by bartenders for its complexity—inside an easy-drinking pounder. When isolated, the Scandinavian liquor’s heavy rye essence can turn off some drinkers; here it serves to highlight the sweetness of  muddled strawberries. Combined with tangy lemon juice, a smattering of mint leaves and a splash of bubbly soda water, it all adds up to a deceptively sophisticated back-porch sipper. 162 Ave A between 10th and 11th Sts (212-228-6900, thebeaglenyc.com). $13.

 (Photograph: Virginia Rollison)
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Red Cup at The Dead Rabbit

Bartender Jack McGarry derived this brightly flavored, berry-stuffed cocktail from a 19th-century pamphlet detailing drink recipes culled from Oxford University residence halls. Calvados and port form the dark, apple-tinged base, which anchors a summery mélange of lemon (both fresh juice and sherbet), cucumber (employed as a soda and extract) and jammy, house-made red-currant preserves. Whole blackberries, strawberries and grapes, which steep as the drink sits, recall vernal abundance. 30 Water St at Broad St (646-422-7906). $13.

 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Buzzword at Middle Branch

Built around the newly launched hooch Pavan—a low-alcohol, muscat-based liqueur—this light, floral aperitif brings the south of France to midtown Manhattan. A dram of Starr rum ups the proof, while lime and grapefruit juice amplify the booze’s citrusy profile, and muddled black cherries spotlight its stone-fruit notes. The addition of bubbly makes for a sharp, dry frisson and whets your appetite as any good aperitif should, but chances are, you’ll want another round first. 154 E 33rd St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-213-1350). $12.

 (Photograph: Krista Schlueter)
Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Passing Notes cocktail at Pouring Ribbons

Sporting the hue of a freshly sprouted bud, this concoction could be mistaken for one of those wholesome, cold-pressed “green drinks.” But one sip of this potion—enlivened with overproof Perry’s Tot Navy-Strength gin and a powerful hit of absinthe—is enough to remind you that it ain’t for breakfast. Cucumber and honeydew juice bestow the emerald color and rich, fruit-salad lushness, which gets tempered by acidic lime and a savory pinch of salt. 225 Ave B at 14th St (917-656-6788, pouringribbons.com). $14.

 (Photograph: Krista Schlueter)
Photograph: Krista Schlueter

That's All Folks cocktail at Mayahuel

Bloody Mary, watch your back—this piquant, addictive drink could steal the city’s brunch-cocktail throne. Arbol-chile–infused mezcal leaves your lips numb with heat, but a honeyed dose of agave nectar eases the tingle. Lime juice and cilantro supply a cooling balm, but the fresh-pressed carrot juice steals the show, providing the tipple’s bright orange complexion and unique vegetal sweetness. A dash of Angostura bitters brings it all together for a lingering herbal finish. 304 E 6th at Second Ave (212-253-5888). $14.

Seasonality permeates menus across New York City, including those at the best spring bars. Bartenders utilize a vernal bounty, sometimes even culled from local greenmarkets. Order up one of these TONY-approved tipples, or ask the pros about what ingredients are freshest.

RECOMMENDED: Best spring bars in NYC