The Art of the Menu at Trick Dog

Trick Dog's first menu, inspired by Pantone swatches.

Trick Dog’s first menu, inspired by Pantone swatches.

I have a piece up at Tales of the Cocktail about the awesome and inventive cocktail menu designs at Trick Dog in San Francisco.

Thanks to Josh Harris and Morgan Schick of the Bon Vivants for talking to me about the hows and whys of their fun menu concepts!

Ordering a cocktail at Trick Dog is almost as much fun as drinking one. You could find yourself navigating a tourist map of San Francisco or rotating a horoscope wheel with a different drink for each Zodiac sign. But there’s a method behind the playful menu concepts.

Tales of the Cocktail: The Art of the Menu at Trick Dog, by Marcia Simmons

DIY Bitters Recipes

cherry-bittersEven though you only use a drop or two, bitters are a very important cocktail ingredient. They can be the finishing touch  … or the thing that turns an unbalanced, so-so cocktail into a perfect drink. They take a little time to make at home, but if you’re into cocktail projects, it’s worth it.

Aromatic Bitters ~ This recipe produces something similar to Angostura bitters, also known as the bitters that most cocktail recipes call for. Everything from a Manhattan to a Pisco Sour includes this type of bitters.

Hellfire Bitters ~ Spicy bitters work well with cocktails that have a strong base liquor, such as mezcal or whiskey. A drop or two in a beer adds a little touch of heat and flavor as well.

Cherry Bitters ~ Used in place of aromatic or Angostura bitters, these give a hint of fruit to your drink without making your drink sweet.

In Bloom Bitters ~ Floral bitters mix well with tequila and gin drinks, complementing the herbal notes of the spirit.

Rhubarb Bitters ~ This is my Gin and Tonic helper. A little grapefruit and a few drops of Rhubarb Bitters makes for a fun and slightly different G&T.

Cucumber Cocktails

Bonkers Awesome Grapefruit Cucumber Cocktail from Joy the Baker

Bonkers Awesome Grapefruit Cucumber Cocktail from Joy the Baker

Stay cool as a cucumber this summer with a cucumber cocktail … or two. Whether your garden is overflowing with these little guys or you pick some up at the market, they’re a  light and lovely addition to summer drinks.

Cucumber Mojito ~ Take the classic cool Mojito and add the refreshing power of cucumber.

Eastside Rickey ~ If you’re more of a gin person, then this cucumber-enhanced cocktail would be a good choice if you’re in the mood for a summery Mojito-like drink.

Cucumber Margarita ~ Pair this one with a warm summer night and a spicy meal on the patio.

Bonkers Awesome Grapefruit and Cucumber Cocktail ~ Cucumber’s delicate flavor is combined with grapefruit and ginger beer for an exciting gin cocktail.

Cucumber and Basil Slush ~ This frozen vodka cocktail shows off the way cucumber and basil are the perfect pair.

Fresh Tomato Cocktails

tomatomartini
I have three tomato plants fully loaded with sweet summer tomatoes. I never ever get sick of fresh tomatoes, but I’m always looking for new ways to use them in food … and cocktails. Aside from the Bloody Mary, there are many other ways to drink your tomatoes. Here are some recipes for garden-fresh tomato cocktails.

La Tomatina ~ Though this gin drink shares a few ingredients with the Bloody Mary, the addition of sherry gives it a unique character.

Tomato Martini ~ This recipe offers a slightly sweet twist on the classic Martini by using tomato-infused gin and adding a splash of Lillet.

Tomato Margarita ~ Fennel salt on the rim is a nice touch for this sweet and savory summer take on the Margarita.

Tomato Gin Cobbler with Peaches and Basil ~ Peaches and basil are summer’s other amazing flavors, so it makes sense that they’d mix together so well for a refreshing summer drink.

Heirloom Tomato Mojito ~ Tequila, tomatoes, basil and a touch of balsamic vinegar transform this warm-weather classic into a whole new cocktail.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

DIY Strawberry Liqueur

060612-209524diyvsbuy-strawberryliqueur

Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh strawberries. If you’re looking for another way to include strawberries in your life (and your cocktails), try this homemade strawberry liqueur. It’s super-easy and super-good. I like to use it in Sangria.

DIY Strawberry Liqueur

8 ounces strawberries, roughly sliced
1 sprig fresh tarragon (optional, but highly recommended)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Steep strawberries and tarragon with vodka for two days. Strain and then filter the mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Press down to extract as much liquid as possible. Then, bring water and sugar to a boil. Once that syrup is cool, combine it with the strawberry-tarragon vodka mixture. Let the combination rest for at least one day. Refrigerate, if desired. Store for up to two months.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column