It’s the season of lemonade stands and porch swings and lounging with friends over frosty glasses of ice-cold refreshment.
Summer is the perfect time for cocktails. Actually we say that about every season. But summer is special, it’s time to find your favorite summer quencher and take a long, cool sip.
It’s no secret that summertime brings out the tippler in many of us. Last year, Americans drank over 420 million gallons of spirits and nearly 140 million of that from May to August, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. December remains the big winner for alcohol consumption, but the longest spike is during the summer months.
That sure is a lot of screwdrivers.
While sweet iced tea and lemonade might seem like all-American refreshers, this year, there are all sorts of new variations in summer drinks—from a recently sampled bacon-infused bourbon to drinks using curried syrup as an ingredient. Mixologists are getting “as far out as possible” without sacrificing a lick of taste or imagination.
Since Americans drink nearly 100 million glasses of iced tea each year, we thought we’d start with an Arnold Palmer. An Arnold Palmer traditionally is non-alcoholic consisting of half iced tea and half lemonade and is named for the golfer Arnold Palmer. It is often called a half and half. If you want to make your Arnold Palmer more “spirited” you can use one of the new sweet tea vodkas like Jerimiah Weed Sweet Tea vodka instead of regular iced tea. but be forewarned, these ice tea vodkas are strong and do not taste alcoholic at all, you may find they go down waaay too easy.
Another twist on lemonade that is popular is forgoing the iced tea flavor all-together and substituting an ounce or two of that great all-American whiskey, Bourbon. Lemonade and bourbon over ice is quite refreshing and tastes great!
So are you thirsty? I have a few recently sampled summer cocktails that are fun and easy to make, but if you think this list is going to be made up of gin and tonics, watermelon punch, and seabreezes, think again.
This bubbly punch is just right for cocktail hour.
- 3 tablespoons Grenadine
- 3 tablespoons Cointreau
- 2 tablespoons Brandy
- 1-3/4 cups Champagne
- Raspberries, apples, or other seasonal fruit
Fill a small ice bucket halfway with ice. Pour Grenadine, Cointreau, Brandy, and Champagne over ice. Stir gently, and ladle punch into 2 wide-mouthed stemmed glasses. Garnish punch with raspberries, apples, or any other fruit in season. Makes 2
Nothing beats a watermelon martini on a summer day! This is a versatile martini, meaning you can use almost any of the white spirits (e.g. gin, vodka, tequila, rum). Bacardi Limon adds just the right amount of lemon and sweetness to complement the watermelon. This drink goes well with sweeter foods. If you prefer a more sour, robust martini, try adding some watermelon schnapps. Personally, I like a more subtle, fresh one.
The Sparkling Watermelon
- 4 ounces watermelon puree, or juice
- 1 ½ ounces Bacardi Limon rum
- ½ ounce watermelon schnapps (optional)
- Splash of lemon juice
- Sparkling Wine
- Basil sprig and watermelon wedge, for garnish
Combine watermelon puree, Bacardi Limon and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass, top with sparkling wine and garnish a sprig of basil and a watermelon wedge.
If you like a stronger basil flavor, muddle the basil in the shaker before adding the other ingredients.
Note: To make watermelon puree, chop the watermelon into one-inch pieces, de-seed and blend. One medium-sized watermelon makes about four cups of puree.
I can’t think of a summer without having at least one drink made with tequila, but forget about Tequila Sunrises or my old standby the Margarita and try my newest favorite tequila special:
- 1.5 oz of inocente Tequila
- 2.5 oz of White Cranberry juice
- 1/2 oz of Rose’s Lime Syrup
- Garnish 2 or 3 frozen cranberries
- Shake well, served up in a cocktail or martini glass
This last drink is perfect when served with spicier foods, it’s a Martini, it’s Sangria, it’s a Sangritini!
- 1 Orange slice
- 1 Lemon slice
- 1 Lime slice
- ½ ounce Citrus or Orange vodka
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- 2-½ ounces Merlot wine (inexpensive)
- 1 ounce Pineapple juice
- Cherry, for garnish
- Orange wheel, for garnish
Mash together the fruit slices with the vodka and cointreau in a cocktail shaker. Add the red wine, pineapple juice and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange wheel.