8 Veggie-Centric Cocktails to Try This Spring

These cleverly-named, trendy cocktails allow you to drink your vegetables.

The Three Little Birds, right, from Porta. Photo courtesy of Porta

Regardless of whether you get your spring vegetables from your abundant kitchen garden or the abundance of your well-stocked local produce section, there’s another, slightly unexpected way to have your seasonal fill of spring vegetables: cocktails. That’s right, thanks to the wiles of some of the Garden State’s most creative mixologists, you can drink your veggies this spring. From carrots and bourbon to peas and tequila to beets and gin (and vodka), New Jersey bartenders are taking delightful, high-ABV liberties with the same tender spring produce your kids refuse at dinnertime.

Here are 8 places to veg out this spring. 

What Grows Together Goes Together at the Kitchen Step

Maybe it’s no surprise mixologist Ray Keane at the Kitchen Step in Jersey City goes culinary in his cocktails—he’s the former pastry chef at the three Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago. But he definitely takes it next level with the wild-yet-elegant What Grows Together Goes Together, with tequila, carrot, spring pea, sage bitters, and garden aroma. For a deluxe second nip, you can always ask Keane to mix up the I Hit Pay Dirt, which digs deeper into the garden patch with olive leaf liqueur and earthy black truffle bitters. The Kitchen Step, 500 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City; 201-721-6115

Dirty Ramp Gibson at the Farm and Fisherman

The only difference between a Martini and a Gibson is the cocktail onion garnish. The difference between a Gibson and this Gibson is a bit more significant. The drink from the team at the Farm and Fisherman Tavern & Market in Cherry Hill is London Dry-style gin, garden vermouth, orange bitters, and, most notably, ramp brine subbing in for that pickled onion (and showcasing yet another use for the adored-but-fleeting seasonal ingredient). The Farm and Fisherman, 1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill; 856-356-2282

The Desperado at Barrio Costero

Perhaps the least familiar ingredient here is the Génépy de Alpes, a Swiss Après Ski-style liqueur made with an herb cousin of wormwood (called génépy) that’s described as Chartreuse-ish, aromatic and herbacious. But it’s the tomatillo shrub that caught our eye—the genius of showcasing the fragrant tang of tomatillos in a vinegary shrub. Poblano liqueur and gin add heat and punch to the drink (the one looking innocent in the foreground here). Barrio Costero, 610 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-455-5544

The Un’Beet’Able, left, at Agricola. Photo courtesy of Agricola

Un’Beet’Able at Agricola

For it’s Un’Beet’Able cocktail, Agricola uses the trailblazing, slightly mind-boggling non-alcoholic “spirit” Seedlip Garden 108. Uncanny, maybe, but delicious: the brainchild of a Brit with generations of gardening in his soul; the flavors—English pea and hay—are distilled in alcohol, which is ultimately completely removed. The rest of the cocktail is organic beets, agave, cream, and egg white. (Which is to say, it doesn’t drink like you’re missing out.) Agricola, 11 Witherspoon Street, Princeton; 609-921-2798

Who Framed Roger Rabbit at INC

We were secretly hoping for a rabbit reference in a spring veggie drinks list. This entry on the Spring Drinks Menu from the good folks at INC in New Brunswick gets a lot of dimensionality from a few powerful ingredients: bourbon, carrot juice, ginger beer, and a fragrant note from thyme—making for a tall, spicy-savory spritzer with enough Beta Carotene to power your sight should the night last longer than planned. INC, 302 George Street, New Brunswick; 732-640-0553

The Basil Lemon Drop at the Ebbitt Room

What would a vegetable garden be without (way too much) basil? While the rest of us make half-hearted pesto plans, the wise folks at the Ebbitt Room in Cape May figured out how to turn all that green into the fragrant-savory edge of an updated Lemon Drop cocktail. Limoncello, vodka, and fragrant elderflower liqueur add a touch of bright and floral. The Ebbitt Room, 25 Jackson Street, Cape May; 609-884-5700

Three Little Birds at Porta

Some of the flavors of the seasonal Three Little Birds at Porta in Asbury Park are on the lighter side of spring—chamomile lavender tea, honey syrup—but the thyme is the decisive flavor. Another spring herb accent to the vegetable garden, here used to give a savory depth to the vodka-based drink (second from the front), with fresh lemon to lift the final flavor like a ray of sunshine. Porta, 911 Kingsley Street, Asbury Park; 732-776-7661

Beet Me to the Punch at South House in Jersey City

Turns out Agricola’s not the only spot risking beet stains for good drinks. At Jersey City’s multi-southern-tinged South House, the Beet Me to the Punch pits beet juice against Brockman Gin and Figenza Vodka (which is fig-based, but by the time it’s vodka, that’s essentially moot), with a dash of cranberry, lemon juice, and basil. South House, 149 Newark Avenue, Jersey City; 201-209-1316

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