It’s summer – break out the vinegar | Flavored varieties can create tasty cocktails

Matt Stermer, CEO of Oil & Vinegar at Bellevue Square, looks over a variety of drinks that can be made with vinegar. From left: Raspberry Vinegar Aperitif, Vegetable Smoothie and Cafe Freddo. - CRAIG GROSHART, Bellevue Reporter
Matt Stermer, CEO of Oil & Vinegar at Bellevue Square, looks over a variety of drinks that can be made with vinegar. From left: Raspberry Vinegar Aperitif, Vegetable Smoothie and Cafe Freddo.
— image credit: CRAIG GROSHART, Bellevue Reporter

Summer is officially here, which means it's time to plan those outdoor gatherings with friends. High on the list should be cool, new drinks to impress the guests.

Fresh fruit is a good starting point for an afternoon cocktail, and adding sparking water, Champagne or Prosecco adds a nice fizz to the festivities. Oh, and don't forget the vinegar.

That's right: today's subtle-flavored vinegars are a far cry from the lip-puckering stuff you may remember.

Today, there's a wide-variety of of more exotic types of vinegar, says Debbie Gokhan, vice president and COO of Oil & Vinegar at Bellevue Square.

"Think of it as a syrup."

Thus, it only takes a 24 raspberries, some sparkling spring water and a ¼ cup of Raspberry Vinegar Balsam to make a Raspberry Vinegar Aperitif for four.

Mangos, strawberries and a variety of other fruits mix well with the right vinegar flavor, Gokhan adds.

While relatively new, many cocktail lounges have balsamic drinks on their menu.

"Some of the vinegar, you wouldn't know it is vinegar," Gokhan said.

And, she added, it also works on ice cream.

The Oil & Vinegar shop has been "dabbling it it for awhile," said Matt Stermer, the store's CEO and the interesting flavors of vinegar. He was exposed to the wide variety of vinegars while in the Netherlands when he worked at Nike's European headquarters. He later left Nike to bring the Mediterranean flair and flavor to the Northwest.

"People are always surprised," Stermer said of the wide variety of vinegars available.

And there's even more to vinegar that just taste.

"It's very low in calories," Stermer said, adding that people can use it to cheat on a diet.

The Bel-Square Oil & Vinegar website ( has a wide-variety of recipes that use a wide-variety of vinegars. Here are a few of their summer drinks to get you started:

Raspberry Vinegar Aperitif

Serves 4


24 raspberries

1/4 cup Raspberry Vingar Balsam

1 cup sparkling spring water

Crushed ice cubes


Wash the raspberries gently. Mash the raspberries with a fork (save 4 to garnish the glasses). Mix in a measuring cut the raspberry pulp with the Raspberry Vinegar Balsam. Add the sparkling water and distribute the liquid over four cocktail glasses. Garnish the glass with a raspberry. Serve immediately with ice cold drink or leave it in the refrigerator.


French fruit bowl

Serves 6


2 cups sparkling white wine

2 cups sparkling water with lemon flavor

1/2 cup strawberries

1 mango

2 apples

1/2 cup red raspberries

6 fresh mint leaves

2 tbsp. Marc de Champagne vinegar

1 tbsp. strawberry vinegar

3 tsp. orange blossom honey


Cut the strawberries in half, dice the mango and apples and slice the mint leaves into small strips. Put the sliced fruit and mint in a punch bowl or pitcher. Add the Champagne vinegar, strawberry vinegar and honey. Pour the chilled sparkling wine and let it stand one hour, then pour the sparkling water on and mix gently.

Tip: For an non-alcoholic punch replace the wine with sparkling mineral water.


Caffé Freddo

Serves 4


1 cup coffee

8 tsp brown sugar

2x4 tsp Dolce Nero coffee + some extra for decoration

1 cup cream

5 tsp sugar

1 lb. crushed ice

8 tbsp rum (optional)


Make the coffee, add the brown sugar and let it cool. Whip the cream and the sugar unit stiff. Keep some whipped cream separate and put the rest in a blender. Now add the coffee, 4 tsp Dolce Nero, the crushed ice and the rum and mix together well. Put a teaspoon of Dolce Nero coffee in each glass and then divide the coffee mixture over the 4 glasses. Finally, put the remaining whipped cream on top.

Decoration tip: Create a festive decoration by dipping “leaves” of Dolce Nero onto the cream and make a spiral pattern on them by using a thin stick or rod. Serve with a straw.





Vegetable smoothie

(like a Bloddy Mary)

Serves 6

1 bottle of salsa della Mamma

1/2 cucumber

4 stalks celery

2 tablespoons Elderflower apple-lemon-vinegar

1 tsp. Piri piri sauce or Hot african sauce

ice cubes

Fleur de sel

cherry tomatoes as garnish.


Place all ingredients except the cherry tomatoes and salt in a blender or a food processor. Mix together well until thick and smooth. If the smoothie is too thin, you can add some extra ice cubes. Then add fleur de sel to taste. Mix again briefly. Serve in pretty glasses, use cherry tomatoes as garnish.

Tip: Put the cherry tomatoes on a skewer and put them in the glass.


Vinegar cocktail

Mix 2 Tbsp. fruit vinegar (strawberries, raspberries or passion fruit vinegar for example) with 200 ml (chilled) mineral sparkling water.

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