A Lady Walks into a Bar…Summer Cocktail Collection

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore

Nothing beats a perfectly crafted cocktail to cool a sweltering summer night. The composition. The presentation. That first sultry sip. Pure satisfaction.

Nearing the second anniversary of publishing A Lady Walks into a Bar has inspired me to revisit 10 of my favorite cocktails for this summer. Who knows? Maybe the list will inspire a cocktail crawl? Go for it! Here are some of the must-try creations I’ve sampled from in and around Monmouth County. Cheers!

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
MoTito from Parker House

MoTito at Parker House, Sea Girt

Tito’s vodka, mint leaves, sugar, fresh lime juice, club soda 

A stripped-down mojito with vodka replacing the rum, this version is served up icy in a pint glass, complete with a sugared rim, a lime wedge, and a straw. Refreshing and minty, perhaps a touch heavy on the simple syrup.

Why This? Why Here?

This mojito is a refreshing choice on a warm night and Parker House is a tried-and-true spot that’s worth a visit if you happen to stumble anywhere near Sea Girt.

It’s steps away from the ocean and offers incredibly fresh seafood at the raw bar, live entertainment, and a wraparound porch so you can watch the world stroll by. 

Parker House
290 1st Avenue
Sea Girt, NJ 08750

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Poquito Picante from Albariño

Poquito Picante at Albariño, Shrewsbury

Cointreau, jalapeño, tequila, cucumber

I can hardly describe the joy I feel when I sip this divine cocktail. My description is nothing compared to the magic and balance of this simple-yet-complex, delightful flavor profile, and I really loathe Cointreau!

Bartenders at Albariño have mastered the process of making this time-consuming concoction. Here’s what they do: They combine muddled cucumber, cilantro, and a touch of a secret I’m-not-sure-what ingredient, in addition to what’s listed above.

Then the drink is carefully strained out and served neat in a coup glass, with a slice of English cucumber and a single red hot chili pepper floating amidst the pale green shimmer of the drink itself.

The flavor is amazing—cool, crisp, and fresh, while leaving a bit of heat on the tongue. It goes down a little too easily, so having a designated driver is a public service suggestion you can thank me for later. Now go get yourself one!

Why This? Why Here?

I’ve been drinking tequila cocktails for a while now, and it wasn’t until Albariño that I met the tequila-inspired love of my life. The name itself is marvelous, only leveled up by its presentation.

The restaurant itself offers a super chic cosmopolitan feel in the middle of suburban Monmouth County. The decor is transportive and the varied cocktail menu changes often so if you can’t find this baby in print, just ask!

The Grove West
508 Broad Street
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Brinley Rum Bucket from On The Deck

The Brinley Rum Bucket at On the Deck Restaurant & Bar, Atlantic Highlands

Brinley Shipwreck mango white and spiced rum, orange, pineapple, and cranberry juices

At first I mused, “Why in God’s name does anyone need to drink a bucket of anything?” The answer? Because it’s just that good!

The ideal combo of sweet and tart, this juicy, spicy, delightful beverage is everything you’d expect when sipping on a cocktail while overlooking the Atlantic. Packing a punch without warning, this drink is the epitome of “one and done!”

Why This? Why Here?

On the Deck features spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and a great spot for lingering before or after hopping a ferry to or from NYC. And seriously, nothing says summer more aptly than a rum bucket.

On the Deck Restaurant & Bar
10 Simon Lake Drive
Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
The Jillbilly from Modine

The Jillbilly at Modine, Asbury Park

Espolon Reposado tequila, Aperol, lime, agave, Mezcal rinse presented with grapefruit slice, and a half-rimmed glass of homemade chili lime salt

The color alone takes my breath away and the thoughtful half-rimmed glass is almost too much to handle. This all before my first sip. The evidence of a great mixologist is often found in the restraint or delicate touch and mindful detail. This cocktail is clearly no exception.

The taste is insanely refreshing for a tequila at 4:00 p.m. on a Monday, and it was all because of the sexy Aperol, aka the X-factor in Summer 2019 drink trends. The Aperol smooths out the intensity of the tequila—the Mezcal is a lovely touch to soften the sweetness, with the showstopper being the half-rimmed chili lime salt. It made the cocktail complete, period. I’m stoked to go back and sample more cocktail creations this summer!

Why This? Why Here?

Asbury Park is one of the hottest destinations at the Jersey Shore, and Modine delivers a respite. Just a few blocks from the waterfront, the space itself is quite chic.

It was constructed inside a historic bank, and provides just the right mixture of art deco madness, comfort food, mixologists that create homemade shrubs and tinctures, and a highly honed cocktail menu. Need I say more?

601 Mattison Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Gin & Jam from Red Rock Tap & Grill

Gin & Jam at Red Rock Tap + Grill, Red Bank

Tanqueray, muddled lemon, agave, fig jam, and topped champagne

While it was love at first sight, I found myself mildly concerned about the mix being overwhelmingly sweet. However, my bartender, Kirsten, assured me I would find it more refreshing than sweet, so I took the creator’s word for it.

I love the brilliance of the fig jam presented on an espresso spoon. The small snifter glass is clever as well, and the sparkle of the champagne is a great touch. I love how each ingredient can be tasted and how nicely they work together.

When asked what I should do with the fig jam, Kirsten said said “Up to you.”

Why This? Why Here?

I mean, who doesn’t love a dollop of fig jam atop one of the most refreshing drinks around town?

Red Rock is a blast and offers bars at every turn making it easy to grab a drink even on a crowded night. Indoor and outdoor bars with ample seating and all-around great vibes. The outside, upper level area offers picturesque views of the Navesink River, and the food at Red Rock is simply delicious. 

Red Rock Tap + Grill
14 Wharf Ave
Red Bank, NJ 07701

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Cucumber cocktail from Four Winds Restaurant

Cucumber Cocktail at Four Winds Restaurant, Manasquan

Prairie Cucumber vodka, St. Germain, fresh lemon, simple syrup, and a splash of lemon-lime

Readers may already know how I feel about cucumbers and St. Germain. For me, this wasn’t a difficult choice. The specialty cocktail menu is thin at this beer and wine spot, but I was thrilled that of the four cocktails featured, and this one struck the right chord.

Not mentioned were the delightful bits of muddled cucumber and seeds that floated throughout the martini glass and a nice touch of cucumber round that hung on my glass.

Why This? Why Here?

Summer is simply not complete without a cool slice of cucumber atop a refreshing drink that packs a punch! Four Winds offers a great locale away from the waterfront ooglers yet close enough you can jet over to the sand after enjoying a beachy cocktail away from the crowds. Plus they have a prime rib special you can’t beat. Check the restaurant website for details.

Four Winds Restaurant
1316 Jefferson Avenue
Manasquan, NJ 08736

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Belmar Breeze from Klein’s Fish Market & Waterside Cafe

Belmar Breeze at Klein’s Fish Market & Waterside Cafe, Belmar

Brinley coconut rum with Brinley Shipwreck spiced rum floater, pineapple juice

The drink is an enjoyable and welcome treat any time of day. Coconut conjures a tropical island feel no matter what time of day! No crazy surprises here, just the promise of a solid and yummy choice.

Why This? Why Here?

The drink is reminiscent of a lovely summer breeze, not to mention that Klein’s dockside location is prime! Located by the Belmar Bridge, nestled between Shark River and the inlet, views are fantastic and seafood is freshly caught. Klein’s has been a reliable source of good times for generations!

Klein’s Fish Market & Waterside Cafe
708 River Road
Belmar, NJ

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Frozen coconut mojito from Beach House

Frozen Coconut Mojito at Beach House, Long Branch

Malibu rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice and mint (can be served on the rocks)

Best. Drink. Ever.

When this gorgeous treat arrived, I already felt like I was on a tropical island—that certain kind of way that only a frozen drink can make you feel, right? I haven’t really enjoyed frozen drinks since my 20s, but alas, it was about 96 degrees outside and it seemed the best possible way to go on this eve of July 4!

My frozen drink fantasy was before me and I could not have prepared myself for the incredible, full-mouth-feel flavor explosion! YES! I was beyond stoked about my next sip. Tasty bits of coconut blended beautifully with crushed ice and mint and heat of the alcohol—ever-present but mild.

The drink presents surprisingly like an authentic mojito, blended well with a heavy hand of mint, making my dreams come true. This fabulous frozen example of joy in a glass is the creation of Joanne, bar manager at Beach House.

Why This? Why Here?

It’s worth saying a second time… Best. Drink. Ever! Beach House is located in the heart of Pier Village yet always seems to have a spot just for me. It’s an open-air feel with large windows, friendly staff and good service. The ideal place to park yourself for a remote work day or gathering with large groups. 

Beach House
Pier Village
68 Ocean Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Sage Advice from The Rum Runner

Sage Advice at The Rum Runner, Sea Bright

Clyde May’s Whiskey, sage simple syrup, lime juice, pomegranate juice, orange bitters, and ginger beer.

What’s the very beginning of that line from Romeo and Juliet? “What’s in a name…” Everything. This one captured my attention the second I read it on the menu. This was the one. The color is gorgeous and the aroma of citrus forward. The whiskey creates a lot of deep flavors to contrast the blend of juices and herbal sage amidst the sweetness totally piqued my curiosity. I took my first sip and was overcome—almost tearful—it was so damn good.

It has been a while since a cocktail moved me this deeply. The brilliance of melding these smoky, tart, citrusy flavors that balanced so well was really something to behold. My mouth gleeful, I took a second and third sip. Each discernible ingredient played off the others in perfect harmony. Mark, the bartender and mixologist, made the sage simple syrup himself and my guess is he added a whole lot of extra love when he created this breathtaking craft cocktail!

Why This? Why Here?

While whiskey isn’t widely considered a summer drink, this one definitely should be on your list of things to drink…NOW!

The Rum Runner is my favorite McCloone’s location—it’s got the best look. And despite it being located on a busy stretch of Ocean Avenue, the restaurant offers ample parking and yummy bites!

The Rum Runner
816 Ocean Avenue
Sea Bright, NJ 07760

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Summer Cocktails, Jersey Bites, Jersey Shore
Nina’s Brilliant Cachaça Caipirinha

Nina’s Brazilian Cachaça Caipirinha at Bahrs Landing, Highlands

Leblon natural cane Cachaça, muddled lime wedges, cane sugar, and a slash of club soda, served on the rocks

Newbies don’t get drinks named after them, so I knew I was in the presence of a true pro with this bartender. It only took about three seconds before my eyes settled on an old friend. A friend I had made back in my days living in NYC when I was young, knew no limits, and spent far too many hours hanging out the then “new” Coffee Shop in Union Square where I learned all about evil-hangover-inducing cachaças.

Yet my awareness of the joy this drink would bring me, combined with years of wisdom and the safety-net of reality that I needed to make the ferry to NYC for a meeting that evening, led me to order it without hesitation.

And the price? I believe this is the most affordable cocktail I’ve reviewed.

Now, on to the experience. One sip and I felt, TONIGHT I WILL PARTY!

The mouthfeel of the liquor’s fiery heat muddles great with the fresh lime, sugar, and effervescent soda. The memories flooded back as I deeply enjoyed this fantastic cocktail so many years later. It was no less exquisite.

Why This? Why Here?

Bahrs Landing is an absolute delight. It is filled with amazing collectibles and even has its own gift shop. You’ll find a great little bar in front, a tiki bar in the back, and a dining room that offers great views of the ocean. 

Bahrs Landing
2 Bay Ave
Highlands, NJ 07732

A Lady Walks into a Bar is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.

Editor’s note: Availability of each drink is not guaranteed as drink menus are subject to change.