The heat is on. The days are long. The drinks are calling!
Summer cocktails benefit from the season’s abundance of fruit and herbs – not to mention later sunsets and endless occasions to gather with friends.
With the help of Gaspar Whitefeather, my favorite bartender in Raleigh, NC, I’ve compiled some fresh tips for summertime tippling.
Seize the Seasonal
Berries, cherries, melons and herbs are all going bloomin’ crazy during the summer. Incorporate them into your cocktails with wild abandon. (Tomatoes, too!)
“Fresh strawberries, mint and cucumber are all terrific with gin,” says Gaspar.
Bing bing bing! Try these cocktail cherries opens in a new tab in your next Old Fashioned. Bonus round: the leftover syrup can be used in sangria. You can also make simple cherry syrup opens in a new tab for all-purpose mixing.
Grilled lemon halves make typical wedges and twists a lot more interesting.
Gaspar says, “Try adding grilled peaches to white or red wine and brandy for a smoky sangria.”
Herbal sun teas opens in a new tab are perfect for cutting the heat and drinking between drinks.
Try a variety of the flavored sparkling waters available on the shelves, or make your own by muddling fruit into plain seltzer.
Ice is Nice
Crushed ice, and the water it imparts, is crucial to lots of summery drinks, including margaritas and mint juleps.
Gaspar’s tip: “Make your own crushed ice by wrapping cubes in a clean dishtowel and whanging it with a rolling pin.”
Make it Special
For a fancy twist, freeze edible flowers (look for them in the produce department near the fresh herbs) like pansies, nasturtiums and geraniums into ice cubes and plunk in your favorite light-colored cocktail. We like silver tequila, soda and lime.
Poolside party? Pretty up your punch bowl with an ice ring opens in a new tab.
But Wait, There’s More
Every tried a shrub? It’s nothing to shrug off. Here’s a blackberry-lavender version opens in a new tab perfect for experimenting with in your cocktails.
And our friends at Food52 share their wisdom in the shaken vs. stirred opens in a new tab department, and how to make big batch cocktails opens in a new tab if you are very popular.
Tell us what’s most likely to fill your glass this summer, and share any tips in the comments below!