Brunchy, Lunchy, and Punchy: Three Cocktails to Start the Summer

Photo by Kenny Gould

Summer has finally come to Pittsburgh! Take advantage of the sun and longer days with three cocktails chosen by Drew Cranisky, bartender at The Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill. The first recipe is an underrated classic but the second two were developed by Cranisky himself.


Photo by Drew Cranisky
Photo by Drew Cranisky


If Cranisky’s drinking, it’s probably a negroni. He likes this variation on the cocktail, which is a bit lighter than its classic cousin. “Sbagliato” means “switched” or “mistake” in Italian, and supposedly the drink got its name when an absentminded bartender grabbed sparkling wine instead of gin. His mistake is to our benefit. Saluti!

1 ½ ounces sweet vermouth

1 ½ ounces Campari

Dry sparkling wine

Garnish: orange twist

Stir sweet vermouth and Campari with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into chilled champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with orange twist.


Photo by Drew Cranisky


2 ounces white rum (Try Maggie’s Farm)

¾ ounce lime juice

¾ ounce simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)


Carbonated coconut water (see below)

Garnish: lime wheel and cilantro leaves

Lightly muddle a small handful of cilantro in a Collins or highball glass. Fill glass with ice. In a shaker, shake rum, lime juice and simple syrup with ice, then strain into glass. Top with carbonated coconut water. Garnish with lime wheel and cilantro leaves. Serve with a straw.

You can carbonate coconut water in a SodaStream or similar device. Fill the bottle less than halfway and carbonate as usual. According to SodaStream, you aren’t supposed to carbonate anything except water, but it works. If you aren’t comfortable doing it or don’t have such a device, standard coconut water will work just fine.

A Cranisky original, Ice Loves Coco is essentially a mojito but with cilantro instead of mint and coconut water instead of carbonated water. The result is a refreshing cocktail that brings to mind sun and the beach. For the rum, Cranisky uses Pittsburgh-made Maggie’s Farm Rum, which he likes because it has a little more flavor than other white rums, which are often more like vodkas. The carbonated coconut water makes this a truly creative variation on the classic.


Photo by Drew Cranisky


2 ounces bonded bourbon

½ ounce Lapsang souchong syrup (see below)

½ ounce funky Jamaican rum (Try Smith & Cross)

8 to 10 mint leaves

Garnish: mint bouquet

Lightly muddle mint leaves in julep cup. Add bourbon and Lapsang souchong syrup. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice. Stir until cup begins to frost. Fill cup with more crushed ice to form a mound above the rim. Drizzle rum over the top of the drink. Garnish with mint and serve with a straw.

For the Lapsang souchong syrup, steep one tablespoon of Lapsang souchong tea leaves in one cup of hot water. Strain after two minutes, then stir in one cup of sugar until sugar dissolves completely. Let cool.

Another Cranisky original, the Lapsang Julep is similar to the classic mint julep, but with syrup instead of sugar. And not just any syrup, but Lapsang souchong syrup, a type of smoky tea. Cranisky doesn’t typically like smoke, which is often a difficult ingredient to pair in cocktails, but he finds that the Lapsang souchong adds a soft, floral smokiness to the drink that pairs well with the mint. Poured over the top at the end is Jamaican rum, which is often described as smelling and tasting like “overripe fruit”—but not in a bad way. Rather, the rum gives the drink a funky, earthy taste that balances well with the other flavors. This is a great boozy drink to finish out the night.