• The Painkiller: With its tiki-themed decor and drinks, The Yacht Club is a great spot for summer cocktails (the classic daiquiris are a personal favorite). But the bar's champion is this literally fiery number. An adaptation of an old drink from the British Virgin Islands, the Painkiller combines light rum, coconut rum, orange juice and pineapple juice.
"Our presentation is what makes it different," bartender Jamie Reel notes as he adds slices of pineapple and orange and a cherry on top.
Indeed it is, along with one final touch: a sugar cube doused in Bacardi 151 and set on fire.
The result is a super summer drink. Beautiful to behold, it packs a pirate's punch but goes down smooth.
The Yacht Club is located at 87 Patton Ave.
• Cilantro Stinger: Since it opened earlier this year, Bar 100 has distinguished itself with the craft, care and fresh ingredients that go into its cocktails. This approach is most apparent in their summer debut: the Cilantro Stinger.
The brainchild of longtime bartender Max Hupertz, the Stinger combines fresh cilantro, Citroen Vodka, Hendrick's Gin, lime, simple syrup and just a dash of a hot sauce Hupertz found in Brevard.
"I'd always wanted to make a drink around Cilantro. I tried a lot of things out on the kitchen staff here, and I was unsuccessful," he remembers with a chuckle. "It took awhile to get the right combination."
But what a combination. The rare drink that's both subtle and powerful, the Stinger is best savored slowly and leaves a unique tingle on the lips.
Bar 100 is located at 20 Wall St.
• Banging the Captain 3 Ways on the Comforter: Temptations has recently come under new ownership, and it's once-titanic list of 100-plus unusual martinis is sadly a thing of the past. The good news is that this perfect little number is not. In addition to the name (trying saying it to the bartender without blushing or grinning), the drink is one of those strange combos (Southern Comfort and Captain Morgan's) that actually works. Thrown together with cranberry, orange and pineapple and shaken until frosty, it has a rich flavor that contrasts admirably with many of the lighter cocktails on this list.
Temptations is located at 5A Biltmore Ave.
• Cucumber Rose: A new addition to the downtown bar scene, Steak & Wine (in the historic S&W Building) offers some delectable cocktails in a classic setting. This one brings back the far-too-underused cucumber-gin-rose trinity. It takes advantage of the full flavor of gin and the fresh taste of the vegetable, while the rose infusion adds an interesting aftertaste. If you're looking for something that's not as sweet or fruity-tasting as many summer drinks, this might just be the ticket.
S&W is located at 56 Patton Ave.
• Pimm's Cup: Usual Suspects is the one of the few places in town that carries Pimm's No. 1, the famous gin-based drink, and this (also rightly famous) cocktail. While still a staple of the British upper class, Pimm's has become forever associated with New Orleans -- a mecca of summer drinks. If you've never had one of these cooling and uniquely tasty beverages, try one now, and give summer's last days a proper farewell.
Usual Suspects is located at 791 Merrimon Ave.