There’s not much you can do to improve upon a strawberry, perfect as they come. At plant-focused restaurant Topsoil, bartender Mae Morin lets nature take the lead in the Travelers Rest spot’s Strawberry Negroni. She pureés local berries instead of heating them so that the resulting syrup retains the fresh, nuanced flavor of strawberry straight from the field. Then she dares to add it to a negroni, the classic bitter cocktail that has rocketed from bartender’s favorite to national trend. “I really like to make fruity cocktails that are serious, not sweet bombs,” she explains. She hits the mark. No saccharine fruit here—Topsoil’s Strawberry Negroni is balanced and complex, delivering subtle strawberry freshness on the finish. Cacao nib tincture rounds out the drink and calls back to the timeless chocolate-and-strawberry pairing. The clever combo nudges the revered negroni right into spring.
Topsoil Kitchen & Market, 13 S Main St, Travelers Rest. topsoilrestaurant.com
London dry gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, strawberry cordial, $12
1 oz. Beefeater gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Dolin sweet vermouth
¼ oz. fresh strawberry syrup
8 drops of cacao nib tincture or chocolate bitters
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.
In South Carolina, strawberry season comes into full bloom in April. Expect to see buckets of the jewel-colored berries popping up at local markets all across the Upstate, making their way onto menus around town. For bar programs that follow a seasonal philosophy, the berries are inspiring a new crop of cocktails. Here, we spotlight a few strawberry standouts.
Bahnez Mezcal, Trousseau, lime, thyme syrup, and strawberry purée, $12.
The Anchorage, 586 Perry Ave; theanchoragerestaurant.com
“Short and Sweet”
Espolon Reposado, Contratto, Pimm’s #1, boozy strawberry syrup, $12. EXILE, 9
Anderson St, Ste B; exilegvl.com
Pernod, house strawberry cordial, local egg, lemon juice, $11. Bar Margaret, 1269 Pendleton St; barmarg.com