When it comes to food culture, Italy and Northern California have more in common than meets the eye: a plethora of fresh ingredients from local farmers and markets, a love for wine and a respect for the classics. Bringing together the best of both worlds, A16 Rockridge in Oakland, CA shapes their Italian-inspired cocktail program to reflect the seasonal ingredients of the Bay Area, playing with unique flavor interactions to create seasonal twists on tried and true craft cocktails.

Through the power of lemon, honey and chamomile tea, one standout on the menu, titled Camomila, turns the classic sour into a sophisticated, fresh take on spring, channeling the herbal cultivars of southern Italy. While infusing spirits with tea has become standard practice over the past few years, the Camomila cocktail brings in the decidedly soothing properties of chamomile tea through robust Italian grappa liqueur, which steeps for an impressive 11-month period. Despite the wide variety of grappas and liqueurs produced in Italy, chamomile might be one of the only tea infusions produced, even though there are some spirits based on the bergamot citrus, which provides Earl Grey with its unique fragrance.

Citrus also provides an intensely cleansing, neutralizing effect for those fatty flavors often found in Italian dishes. Left unchecked, however, it can easily overpower a meal. Adding the herbal aromatics of tea helps find a balance between the trinity of acidity, sweetness and spirits in this drink. It’s a simple but effective shift that makes a big difference. If you don’t have chamomile grappa, try infusing gin with tea bags overnight and remember that only fresh-squeezed lemon juice and quality honey will make this cocktail memorable. Enjoy!