Tacoma Bartenders Share Their Favorite Summer Cocktail Recipes

tacoma cocktail
Hilltop Kitchen's "Garden" is a spicy sipper that awakens the senses.


By Margo Greenman

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is a special time. For a few short months, the gray skies clear to make way for sunshine-filled days spent playing at the park, floating on the water, or even just taking it easy in the backyard. Pacific Northwest summers are meant to be savoured, and so are these summer-inspired sippers. Tacoma-area bartenders share recipes for their favorite summer cocktails for you to make and enjoy at home. Of course, if you don’t feel like busting out the cocktail shaker, you can stop by any one of these Tacoma bars and let the experts mix you the perfect summer libation.

tacoma cocktail
Jason’s Planter Punch is balanced and layered with flavors with a fizzy finish, perfect for a summer day.
(Photos courtesy of Jason Alexander/Tacoma Cabana)

Tacoma Cabana
What better place to grab a summer style cocktail than the place where it’s “summer” year-round. The Tacoma Cabana is a tiki-themed bar located in Downtown Tacoma. Outfitted with paper lanterns, palm trees, surfboards and other authentic tiki-themed decor, the Tacoma Cabana provides Tacoma-area residents with a little slice of paradise, no matter the weather. There’s even a television inside the bar that plays episodes of “Gilligan’s Island” on repeat. In addition to its alluring ambiance, the Tacoma Cabana also serves some of the best drinks in town. Owner Jason Alexander is a master of his trade and shares his recipe for one of his favorite summer cocktails, Jason’s Planter Punch. “This is a punch I like to make using the mantra of ‘one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak,” says Alexander. “If done right, it is balanced and layered with flavors. The addition of fizzy water makes for a refreshing sipper on a hot day.”

Jason’s Planter Punch

2 dashes Angostura bitters
½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
½ ounce homemade grenadine*
½ ounce homemade cinnamon syrup*
2 ounces rum (I like to use a dark Trinidad rum such as Plantation Original Dark or a light Trinidad rum)
1 cup ice
Fizzy water (aka seltzer or club soda)
Fresh mint

1. In a blender (or shaker) combine bitters, lime juice, grenadine, cinnamon syrup, rum and ice.

2. Flash blend on low for no more than 5 seconds (or shake vigorously for 20 seconds).

3. Pour unstrained into a tall glass (14-16 ounce zombie glass works best). Add ice to fill and top with fizzy water and a sprig of mint.

To make the grenadine:
1. Combine equal parts POM (pomegranate juice) with simple syrup (1:1 ratio) and store in an airtight bottle. Grenadine will last about one week in the fridge.

2.To make the cinnamon syrup:

3.In a saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 4 cinnamon sticks (broken into smaller pieces). Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Let simmer for a few minutes. Allow syrup to cool before straining into a bottle for storage.

Want to try one of Alexander’s other creative concoctions? The Tacoma Cabana is open Wednesday-Saturday from 5 p.m.-midnight.

tacoma cocktail
Wagner’s Bloody Mary is a Boathouse 19 customer favorite. (Photo courtesy of Loren Jenkins/Boathouse 19)

Boathouse 19
On a hot summer day, Tacoma-area residents love heading down to Boathouse 19 to cool down with a drink on the deck. Overlooking the mighty Puget Sound and iconic Narrows Bridges, Boathouse 19 provides its guests with one of the best views in town. General Manager Loren Jenkins shares the recipe for Boathouse 19’s award winning Wagner’s Bloody Mary for you to enjoy on your own deck, anytime. “Our version of this classic has the right amount of heat. Smoked bacon and our very own pickled veggies make it the perfect summer wake up call,” says Jenkins.

Wagner’s Bloody Mary

2 ounces vodka
6 ounces house-made Mary mix
1 crispy slice of bacon
Spear of pickled vegetables
Salted Rim

1. Combine all ingredients in a tumbler with ice.

2. Garnish with toppings of your choice.

You can enjoy Boathouse 19’s specialty cocktails in-house Monday-Sunday, with happy hour available from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., and again from 9:00 p.m. – close.


Hilltop Kitchen

tacoma cocktail
Hilltop Kitchen’s “Garden” is a spicy sipper that awakens the senses.

Want to cool off without the prep work? Head into Hilltop Kitchen in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and let owner Chris Keil make you a cleverly concocted cocktail. Hilltop Kitchen’s bar (and food) menu changes regularly, so there’s always something seasonal to sip on.

Choose from something that “Goes Down Easy” like their Paloma Shandy, or select something “Boozy and Odd” like the Garden, which is a spicy combination of tequila, lime, mint, cilantro, serrano peppers, and drinking vinegar served on the rocks.

Hilltop Kitchen features outdoor seating, perfect for cooling down on a sizzling summer day. Hilltop Kitchen is open Monday-Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m., with happy hour cocktails available daily from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


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