Carrot Cocktails To Get To the Root of Spring Entertaining

courtesy Henley, Nashville

courtesy Henley, Nashville

More than just a lunchbox snack, this vivid orange root vegetable adds sweet and earthy notes to seasonal drinks.

We’ve been told all our lives that carrots are good for our eyes. The old joke asks: “Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses?” Chock full of beta carotene not to mention a shock of vibrant color, earthy sweetness and savory flavor that mixes with everything from cumin and fennel to pineapple and ginger, the lowly vegetable usually relegated to kids’ lunchboxes and crudité trays has emerged from the ground as the cocktail ingredient of the season.

Here are some recipes that prove why carrots are more versatile than a simple snack food or fourth bill soup or roast ingredient.

Once Around the Track

Recipe courtesy of Henley, Nashville, TN

Since juicing is such a trend, bar lead Benjamin Rouse thinks it only makes sense for bartenders to juice everything from beets to carrots to bell peppers to use in fresh, exciting, unexpected cocktails. In his whisky sip, “Carrots add a cool texture, a great vegetal quality and subtle earthy sweetness.” Combier Kummel—a liqueur flavored with caraway seeds, fennel and cucumber—lends a savory note akin to pickling spice.

  • 1 ½ oz Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky

  • 1 oz fresh carrot juice

  • ¼ oz Combier Kummel

  • ½ oz ginger syrup (recipe follows)

  • ½ oz lemon juice

  • pinch of parsley

  • Carrot top, lemon oil and grated nutmeg, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnishes to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube and garnish with the carrot top, lemon oil and grated nutmeg.

For the ginger syrup:

Bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 4 oz peeled ginger cut into thin rounds (about a 10-inch long piece). Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes, then strain out solids. Store the syrup in the refrigerator up to several weeks.

courtesy Honey Salt

courtesy Honey Salt

Alex + Piper

Recipe courtesy of Honey Salt, Las Vegas, NV

General manager Kaleo Medeiros deems the carrot beautiful, nutritious and full of flavor, and is more than up to the challenge of using the root veggie in a balanced libation. He has been experimenting for years with versions of this drink that’s an homage for the duo in “Orange is the New Black”. “It’s a cool contrast of feminine and masculine,” he says. “The sexiest, strongest little combo around, at once in perfect harmony and at war with itself. 

  • 1 ½ oz tequila blanco

  • 1 ½ oz freshly pressed carrot juice

  • ¾ oz lemon juice

  • 1 oz agave syrup (1:1 ratio)

  • 1 jalapeño slice

  • lime wedge, for rimming

  • Tajín seasoning, for rimming

  • Lime wheel, for garnish

Rub the lime wedge over half the rim of a rocks glass, `coat in the Tajin seasoning and set aside. Add the rest of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into the prepared glass over fresh ice and garnish with the lime wheel.

courtesy Cooper’s Craft

courtesy Cooper’s Craft

Torrents of Spring

Recipe courtesy of Cooper’s Craft Bourbon

National brand ambassador Fitz Bailey recalls Sundays at his meemaw’s, playing in her garden and pulling veggies, then sitting down to a home cooked Southern dinner. “You wouldn't look at a carrot and think it's an obvious choice for an ingredient [but] it’s got bold color and while it’s fairly versatile it’s also criminally underused,” he says. This drink is tikified with pineapple juice, syrup and tiki bitters, and Bailey believes it works just as well as as an alcohol-free option sans the bourbon.

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain through a fine sieve into a coupe and garnish with the edible flowers and/or lemon slices.

For the pineapple simple syrup:

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup pineapple juice in a pan and stir on medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Continue stirring for two minutes then remove from heat. Let cool and store the syrup in the refrigerator. 

courtesy Pikoh

courtesy Pikoh

Buck Bunny

Recipe courtesy of Pikoh, Los Angeles, CA

Lead bartender Jamie Clark riffed on the Buck—a cocktail containing a base spirit and a ginger component—but ditched the usual carbonated ingredient for this vibrant and appealing recipe inspired by a carrot ginger soup. “The juice of carrots can be somewhat sweet with a subtle earthiness,” Clark says. “The right ingredients have to be chosen [though] so that you don’t have one ingredient dominating the other.”

  • 1 ½ oz London Dry Gin

  • ½ oz mastiha liqueur

  • 1 oz carrot juice

  • ½ oz lemon juice

  • ¼ oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, stirred to combine)

  • ¼ oz ginger syrup (see above for recipe)

  • 3 dashes orange bitters

  • Baby carrots and pansy flower, for garnish

Add all ingredients except the garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and garnish with the baby carrots and pansy flower.

courtesy David Burke Tavern

courtesy David Burke Tavern

What’s Up Doc?

Recipe courtesy of David Burke Tavern, New York, NY

This take on the Moscow Mule is perfect for Sunday Funday. Says corporate chef Carmine DiGiovanni: “The bright orange cocktail piques interest and turns heads while the light natural sweetness of the vegetable creates a refreshing cocktail.”

Add the first four ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice, top with ginger beer, lightly stir and garnish with the skewered carrot ribbon. 

courtesy Redbird

courtesy Redbird

Queen Anne’s Lace

Recipe courtesy of Redbird, Los Angeles, CA

Bar director Tobin Shea created a menu of thirty-one cocktails that are an ode to seeds, inspired by perusing his grandparents’ Burpee Catalog as a child. This one, named for the sprig of white flowers that pop out above ground from a carrot plant, eschews carrot juice since he believes it can too easily overpower other flavors. “I wanted to use flavors that support carrot, like the coriander, cumin, orange notes from the various spirits used within, alongside the carrot flavor from the Reisetbauer Carrot Eau de Vie,” he says.

  • 1 oz dry gin (higher proof works best here)

  • 1 oz Aquavit

  • ½ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth

  • ½ oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth

  • ¼ oz Skinos Mastiha

  • ¼ oz. Reisetbauer Carrot Eau de Vie

  • orange peel, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail glass, add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, express an orange peel over the surface and discard peel.