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.
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 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.
But Wait, There’s More
Every tried a shrub? It’s nothing to shrug off. Here’s a blackberry-lavender version perfect for experimenting with in your cocktails.