In an age when it’s normal to find cocktails featuring ingredients such as artisanal celery bitters, elderflower liqueur and pork-fat-infused mezcal listed on just about any bar’s menu, it’s nice to find a refreshing drink that both maintains a level of sophistication and is pretty simple. After all, aren’t simple drinks generally the best? The martini, the Manhattan, the gin and tonic, these are all classic cocktails that are guaranteed to do the trick every time your bartender sets one in front of you. The Pressroom Restaurant + Bar’s summer cocktail menu contains a few drinks that might send your average shot-and-beer bartender back to the mixology academy, but the Minus the Thorns is a perfect drink to sip on in the midst of a hot summer day and simple enough that you could even make it at home.
When Pressroom bartender Brenton Sollenberger was tasked with creating a new summer cocktail menu, he was looking for something fresh – literally. Fresh blackberries and raspberries are a key ingredient to Minus the Thorns, which also includes gin, pressed lemon, simple syrup and a splash of French rosé wine. (By the way, if you’re drinking gin straight, you’re doing it wrong. Gin was made to be mixed and adding different ingredients to a gin cocktail brings out the botanical accents in the juniper-based liquor.)
“Honestly, I’m not a big gin guy,” says Sollenberger. “I’ve been known to have a gin martini, but I wanted to do something that was not too heavy, something a little bit lighter.”
His answer came in the form of the baskets of fresh blackberries and raspberries that the Pressroom was bringing in to the kitchen to complement entrees and salads. Infusing each liter of gin with about a quart each of mashed blackberries and raspberries gave the gin a refreshing taste and a natural pink color. But adding a generous dose of fresh fruit wouldn’t turn just any run of the (gin) mill liquor (sorry) into a top-shelf gin. That’s why the Pressroom selected the Quarryville-based Faber Distilling Co. gin as the base for Minus the Thorns. It’s not only local, but a quality gin that stands up to other top brands too.
The splash of rosé adds another dimension to the trendy cocktail without making it overly boozy.
“Beer cocktails were really popular for a couple of years, and in that pocket you’re starting to see more wines used in cocktailing,” says Sollenberger. “Obviously, in summertime, people really like rosés, but there is definitely a big push for rosés in general. People are drinking rosés all year round. I’m actually a pretty big fan of a dry rosé myself.”
After the initial preparation of infusing the gin, the whole cocktail takes only about 45 seconds to make – which is good, because the Pressroom and their outdoor area, the Park Bar, can get pretty packed. And cocktails such as the Minus the Thorns and the hibiscus-flavored mojito are very popular.
As the Pressroom gears up for fall and football season, the cocktail menu will change, too, introducing bigger, bolder bourbon-based drinks and barrel-aged Negronis and Manhattans. Yes, it’s last call for summer, but there are still a few more (official) weeks of the season left, so grab a seat at the Park Bar in the shade of the trees growing in Steinman Park – preferably a seat close enough to feel cool breeze from the fountain – and relax with a Minus the Thorns cocktail. It’s a sure way to cure your end-of-summer blues.