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Celebrate spring with 4 sweet, sour and sparkling cocktails

Celebrate the new season with grapefruit sparklers, peach and matcha sippers, vanilla-passion fruit drinks and New York-inspired whiskey sours.
/ Source: TODAY

Tim Sweeney, head bartender at the one and only Pebble Bar in Rockefeller Center, is visiting the TODAY Food team with a fresh batch of imaginative and inspired cocktails. He shows us how to make a bittersweet grapefruit and tonic sparkler, a juicy peach and matcha sipper, a floral vanilla and passion fruit drink and a New York-inspired whiskey sour with a red wine float.

Here's a classic that's been around since the 19th century, but seems to have gathered a burst of momentum in recent years. The New York Sour (believed to have been invented in Chicago, ironically) is, at its essence, a whiskey sour with an added float of red wine. No matter how you choose to serve it, the final result is a beautiful, layered cocktail with a flavor profile that transitions as you sip it. The following recipe is the most classic version.

This cocktail started with a simple question of "what would sound good with matcha?" So I lined up some known matcha flavor buddies including peach, honey, lemon and (hey, why not?) lychee liqueur. It took a good number of times to find the right ratio, but finally that "Eureka" moment happened. The name, Peaches en Regalia, is based on a Frank Zappa song title and translates to "peaches all dressed up." I don't think there could be a more apropos title for this cocktail (yes, I did consider "Match-u Peach-u" for one quick second).

My mom enjoyed tonic drinks; I always hated them. So, as a tribute to my mom, the late Kathy McCarty, I wanted to make a tonic cocktail I could actually enjoy. The result is a crushable elixir featuring a slight touch of sweet grapefruit syrup and a hint of bitter Gran Classico. It's a souped-up gin and tonic that has echoes of both a grapefruit Tom Collins and a bitter gin cocktail. Those aforementioned bubbles I would usually hate play a perfect complementary role to the other flavors, making a tonic drink I finally can enjoy.

My colleague, Dante Colicchio, has a knack for creating both esoteric cocktails and accessible ones. This is one of his greatest creations in the latter category and one of our best-selling cocktails at Pebble Bar. The flavor combination pops off the page as well as your palate with the lineup of passion fruit, vanilla, lime, reposado tequila and Champagne. It has its roots in a certain classic passion fruit and vodka cocktail.

If you like those creative cocktail recipes, you should also try these:

Ciderhouse Mule
Ubiquity Cocktail