A bonus ‘Cocktail Island’ for fireworks weekend

Check out this watermelon specialty cocktail at SALT this weekend. (Credit: SALT Waterfront Bar & Grill)

Check out this watermelon specialty cocktail at SALT this weekend. (Credit: SALT Waterfront Bar & Grill)

The 59th Annual Shelter Island Fireworks will light up the sky over Crescent Beach this Saturday, July 9, and to celebrate fireworks weekend, bartenders at three Island restaurants — SALT, The Pridwin and The Tavern — have each come up with a unique (and in some cases fiery) cocktail made specifically for the occasion. 

The common denominator in all three drinks is Avión silver tequila. The company is a sponsor of the fireworks, and the cocktails will be served at special events hosted by each restaurant over the weekend with a portion of proceeds from sales of the drinks supporting Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc., the non-profit organization that sponsors the show.

Kelly Surerus, an organizer of the fireworks, explains that Avión’s local reps are frequent visitors to the Island and were happy and eager to lend a hand to support the effort.

“They wanted to do something great for the Island and this ended up being a really good fit,” says Ms. Surerus. “They donated their product and asked each restaurant to come up with an amazing cocktail around it. They also provided shakers with a beautiful top to make it a high end experience.”

That experience begins at SALT where bartender Stacie Schadegg has come up with the Avión Watermelon & Basil Bubbler, a drink she describes as “fresh and summery.”

The cocktail is made with Avión’s silver tequila, fresh muddled watermelon, basil simple syrup — made with basil from SALT’s own garden — and fresh lime juice. The ingredients are combined in a shaker and then strained over ice in a glass with a habanero sea salt rim and topped with a little bubbly in the form of Prosecco.

“It’s awesome,” attests Ali Bavara, who co-owns SALT with her husband, Keith. “If you’ve ever had watermelon juice, it’s super light and refreshing, and the basil provide the aromatics.”

SALT’s event:
On Friday, July 8 from 6 to 11 p.m. SALT (63 S. Menantic Road, (631) 749-5535) hosts the pre-party for the fireworks at their Shipwreck bar. The restaurant is donating food for a “pay as you want” barbecue. Live music will be provided by “The Realm” and there will be a raffle for a stand-up paddle board (tickets are $20). In addition, a percentage of proceeds from sales of the bar’s Avión Watermelon & Basil Bubbler will go towards the fireworks. Visit them at www.facebook.com/saltshelterisland.

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At The Tavern at Shelter Island House, general manager Mariana Torrealba has come up with the appropriately named Margarita Explosion for fireworks weekend. The drink is made with Avión silver tequila infused with jalapeños and cucumbers shaken with a splash of pineapple juice and served over ice.

“Since we had to come up with a fireworks cocktail, we thought it should be hot,” explains Ms. Torrealba. “Jalapeño and cucumber go well together.

The tequila is infused with them which gives you the flavor of the jalapeño without the burning.”

“You also have the taste of the cucumber and it’s finished with pineapple juice,” adds Ms. Torrealba who notes that the process of infusion — rather than muddling — is key to tempering the heat of the peppers. For this drink, the peppers and cucumbers spend a fair amount of time residing in the tequila bottle before the drink is even made.

“It takes at least two days for good flavor,” she says. “For Saturday’s party, bottles have been infusing since Monday.”

The Tavern’s event:
On Saturday, July 9 immediately following the fireworks on the beach, The Tavern (11 Stearns Point Rd, Shelter Island Heights, (631) 749- 5659) will host a post-pyrotechnics after-party from 10 p.m. to midnight with live music provided by musician Scott Hobson. A percentage of proceeds from sales of the Margarita Explosion will go towards the fireworks. Visit them at www.facebook.com/thesitavern.

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At The Pridwin on Crescent Beach, bar manager Shane Christenson and food and beverage director Jean Pierre (a.ka. JP) Torrealba — Mariana’s husband — have created the Avión Bloody Maria cocktail for Shelter Island fireworks weekend.

It’s an appropriate choice given that The Pridwin is hosting a post-fireworks brunch on Sunday. While vodka is the standard spirit in a Bloody Mary, Mr. Christenson and Mr. Torrealba liked the idea of offering up an old favorite with a new twist.

“The other restaurants are doing infused cocktails, so we went for a classic — a good old Bloody Mary with tequila” he adds. “It makes sense since we’re doing brunch.”

The cocktail combines The Pridwin’s special Bloody Mary mix with Avión silver tequila and is served with pickled zucchini, cucumber, cauliflower and Kalamata olives.

“The tequila goes into more of an agave style, which plays well with the tomato and pickle juice,” explains Mr. Torrealba. “Instead of a straight vodka flavor, you get that kick.”

“I like how clear this tequila is, how distilled,” he adds. “Because it’s super filtered you can drink a few and you don’t have a problem the next day.”

Also key, of course, is The Pridwin’s special Bloody Mary mix itself — which Mr. Christenson was happy to share.

“It’s made with horseradish, cracked black pepper, salt, bitters, Tabasco, house made pickle juice and Worcestershire,” he says. “And a little bit of love.”

“…and a lot of love,” corrects Mr. Torrealba.

The Pridwin’s event:
On Sunday, July 10 beginning at 10:30 a.m., The Pridwin (81 Shore Road, (631) 749-0476) offers a post-fireworks “morning after” brunch and will be serving up the Avión Bloody Maria with a percentage of proceeds from the drink’s sales going to Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc. Visit them at www.facebook.com/pridwin.

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The triad of events, dubbed the “Passport to Paradise” by event organizers, offers a koozie to all those who sign up. Those who get their koozie stamped at all three happenings will receive a free mimosa at the Pridwin brunch on July 10.

The 59th Shelter Island Fireworks, featuring Fireworks by Grucci, begin around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 with a rain date of Sunday, July 10.

To donate to the fireworks effort, visit shelterislandfireworks.com or gofundme.com/fireworks. Checks made payable to Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc. can be sent to P.O. Box 452, Shelter Island, NY 11964. Visit them at www.shelterislandfireworks.com or www.facebook.com/Sifireworks.