5 Atlanta cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink

Nothing quite captures the essence of spring flowers. Their addition spruces up almost anything, including a mixed drink. Cocktails all are about balance — sweet and bitter, sour and savory — but flowers’ aesthetic appeal and blossom flavor can transform a drink.

We scouted spots in Atlanta currently serving cocktails almost too pretty to drink. Here are five drinks you may want to try, plus an easy recipe to impress guests at home.

Credit: Kathryn Fitzgerald Rouse

Credit: Kathryn Fitzgerald Rouse

California Lady at Rising Son

The California Lady is as striking in flavor as its pretty lavender hue. The beautiful gin infusion of spring violets and bright citrus peel mixes perfectly with a fresh lemon and ginger cordial and a poppy liqueur. A calendula blossom floats on top. “I love using flowers and herbs from my gardens, because it makes me feel completely fulfilled, when I know not only am I making concoctions, but I’m growing what is in them, and garnishing it with what I grow,” co-owner Kathryn Fitzgerald Rouse said. The restaurant sources vegetables, herbs and flowers from Rouse’s home garden, as well as a larger farm 21 miles away in Rockdale County. “I feel alive when I grow flowers and herbs; it puts me in a peaceful place,” she said.

Rising Son. 124 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates. 404-600-5297, risingsonavondale.com.

Credit: Stevenson Rosslow

Credit: Stevenson Rosslow

Star Tropic at Wrecking Bar Brewpub

Bartender Megan Chaffin combines Plantation Pineapple rum and Gran Classico aperitif amaro with lime juice, pineapple syrup, and bitters over a large ice cube. “It’s a little tiki and a lot of yummy,” said managing partner Stevenson Rosslow. Pea flowers from Wrecking Barn Farm in Loganville add more than loveliness. “They are edible, and have a springy, sweet pea flavor, and work both as a visual and tasty garnish to the drink,” Rosslow said. They use a handful of other edible flowers from the restaurant’s farm on plates from the kitchen, as well.

Wrecking Bar Brewpub. 292 Moreland Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-221-2600, wreckingbarbrewpub.com.

Credit: Courtesy M-Squared Public Relations

Credit: Courtesy M-Squared Public Relations

She Smiled Sweetly at Bar Margot

The She Smiled Sweetly is a new addition to Bar Margot’s menu. It’s the title of a soundtrack song from the movie “The Royal Tenenbaums,” to which the restaurant-bar pays subtle homage. Lead bartender Tokiwa Sears stirs together rhubarb-infused vodka, Cappelletti aperitivo, lemon juice and peach bitters, and tops it off with various edible flowers. “I enjoy garnishing cocktails with edible flowers, because it’s pretty, and adds to the aesthetic,” Sears said. “Flowers make me happy and make me smile, which I think is why people give flowers to those they like or care about.”

Bar Margot. 75 14th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-881-5913, barmargotatl.com.

Credit: Jen Hidinger

Credit: Jen Hidinger

GI Jane at Paper Crane Lounge

Bartender Brandon Reily garnishes a GI Jane with wood sorrel flowers from Staplehouse’s lush backyard garden. The pale yellow cocktail combines Dimmi, an Italian aperitif made with a floral infusion; Pisco (Peruvian brandy); and lemon. “The tiny bright pink flowers imbue a certain freshness, add a striking contrast in color, and lend a bright citrusy pop, which complement the sharp richness of the Dimmi and lemon components,” Reily said. “By extension, there is something calming and serendipitous about picking flowers before service.” That’s exactly the mood in the upstairs Paper Crane Lounge.

Paper Crane Lounge. 541 Edgewood Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-524-5005, staplehouse.com.

Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

Prince of the Sun at Aix

Bar Manager Michael McDermott’s Prince of the Sun oozes French elegance in peridot green. “The name is in reference to the Belgian Tin Tin comic,” he said. Tin Tin also is the moniker of the adjoining wine bar (which honors chef Nick Leahy’s great aunt, not the comic book character). The drink is a swirl of London dry gin, white vermouth, lemon, violets and gentian root. “The bright, floral sweetness of crème de violette plays well off of the pronounced medicinal and bitter notes of the Suze and the off-dry juiciness of the C. Comoz Blanc vermouth,” he said. It’s reminiscent of the flowers of Provence that inspired Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh.

Aix. 956 Brady Ave., Atlanta. 770-838-3501, aixatl.com

Lavender Bee’s Knees 

1 serving

2 ounces gin

¾ ounce fresh lemon juice

½ ounce honey syrup (see note)

Dash of lavender bitters

Sprig of lavender for garnish

Add the gin, lemon juice, honey syrup and a dash of lavender bitters to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake five to 10 times and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

Note: To make honey syrup, combine ½ cup hot water with ½ cup honey. Stir until completely mixed. Store unused honey syrup in the refrigerator.


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