Mixing with the Tides:  Craft Cocktails for a Range of Seafood

Summer is upon us, and that means it’s time for sun-soaked days, balmy evenings, and of course, the abundance of fresh seafood. Whether you’re grilling by the beach or hosting a lavish seafood soiree at home, choosing the right drink to accompany your meal can elevate the experience from good to unforgettable.

While wine is often the go-to choice for seafood, craft cocktails can offer an exciting alternative, bringing a diversity of flavors that can beautifully complement the myriad tastes and textures found in seafood. From the sweetness of soft shell crab to the buttery richness of grilled prawns, and the flaky delicateness of white fish, there’s a cocktail out there that perfectly matches. So grab your shaker, pick up your mixology flair, and let’s dive into these seven craft cocktails that promise to make your seafood dishes shine this summer.

(For your convenience, we’ve created a downloadable guide containing all the cocktail recipes featured in this post.)

Cucumber Basil Gimlet: This gin-based cocktail, with its lime juice, simple syrup, and added freshness from muddled basil and cucumber, can complement not just the sweet flavor of soft shell crab, but also delicate seafood like flaky white fish or seared scallops, adding an herbaceous twist to their natural flavors. Try Hendrick’s Gin for its cucumber and rose petal infusion, which would complement this cocktail perfectly.

Lavender Collins: This cocktail, a twist on the traditional Tom Collins, uses gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and a splash of club soda with a bit of homemade lavender syrup. The floral note of lavender pairs beautifully with a variety of seafood dishes, from salmon to shrimp, creating a light and elegant pairing. Bombay Sapphire, with its floral and citrus notes, would be a good fit for this cocktail.

Spicy Grapefruit Margarita: This twist on the traditional Margarita uses fresh grapefruit juice and a bit of jalapeño for a spicy kick, along with tequila and lime. Its spiciness can provide a nice contrast not just to the sweetness of crab, but also to other rich seafood like lobster or buttery grilled prawns. Patron Silver is a popular choice due to its smooth and crisp profile, which would work well in this cocktail.

Elderflower Spritz: This cocktail is a mix of elderflower liqueur, prosecco, and a splash of soda water, garnished with a lemon twist or a few fresh berries. Its floral and slightly sweet notes can complement a wide range of seafood dishes, from rich fish like salmon to lighter options like grilled shrimp or scallops. St. Germain is a well-regarded brand in this category, and Prosecco: La Marca Prosecco is a good quality choice.

Peach Bourbon Smash: This refreshing cocktail is made with muddled fresh peaches, bourbon, mint, and a splash of club soda. The fruity, slightly sweet flavors can balance the richness of fried seafood dishes, from soft shell crab to breaded calamari or beer-battered fish. Maker’s Mark, with its rich and fruity taste, would complement the peach flavors well.

Blackberry Sage Old Fashioned: This modern twist on the classic Old Fashioned uses a blackberry-sage simple syrup along with traditional bourbon and a dash of bitters. The sweet-tart blackberry and earthy sage flavors can provide a lovely counterpoint to a range of seafood dishes, from rich crab cakes to grilled swordfish. For this cocktail, you might want to consider Bulleit Bourbon due to its high rye content, giving it a bold and spicy character that would pair well with the blackberry sage syrup.

Smoky Paloma: This variation on a traditional Paloma uses mezcal instead of tequila for a smoky flavor, along with fresh grapefruit and lime juices, simple syrup, and a splash of club soda. The smoky, tart, and slightly sweet cocktail can complement grilled seafood beautifully, enhancing flavors from grilled soft shell crab to smoky barbecue shrimp skewers. Del Maguey Vida Mezcal is widely recommended for its smoky yet smooth flavor profile that would go well in this cocktail.

Remember, the key to a truly memorable seafood feast is quality ingredients. In Cape Charles, we’re fortunate to have some of the freshest seafood available right on our doorstep. Local markets such as The Beach Market, A1 Seafood, Cherrystone Aquafarms, and Nottinghams Seafood are fantastic places to find the best catch of the day. Additionally, consider checking out local farmers’ markets where you can often find vendors selling fresh-off-the-boat seafood.

No matter what seafood dishes you choose to prepare this summer, we hope these craft cocktail suggestions will inspire you to experiment and elevate your seaside dining experience. Here’s to a season filled with delicious flavors, refreshing sips, and unforgettable moments. Cheers to summer at Bay Creek in Cape Charles!

Recipe Guide (Download Here)

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