Creating refreshing summer cocktails doesn’t need to involve fancy bartender tools or exotic ingredients, all you do need is a bit of imagination and some guests!
Cocktail or mocktail, the best summer drinks are usually the easiest to prepare. Avoid the syrupy pre-made margarita and daiquiri mixes in your grocery store, and instead pick up some fresh citrus and fruit and you’ll be well on the way to making your own fantastic and refreshing summer drinks.
Meant to be refreshing, the use of citrus will elevate any drink from blah to fantastic with a simple wedge or squeeze. Avoid pre-squeezed lemon or lime juice, or concentrates, as they lack that fresh burst of flavor that comes from a fresh lemon or lime.
Skip the Sugar
Simple syrup, a mixture of dissolved sugar and water, is the sweetener of choice for summer cocktails. Granulated sugar just will not dissolve cleanly or completely in cold liquids, therefore plan ahead and make your simple sugar. Take equal parts of sugar and water and combine in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and once chilled this mixture will keep for weeks in the fridge. Use as needed to sweeten everything from iced tea to mojitos.
Like the famous Cuban mojito, many regional drink specialties use fresh herbs. Mojitos and sangrias use mint, while the unusual tomtini uses a basil infused alcohol for its flavor profile. Lavender is also gaining in popularity and is showing up in new drinks across the country.
Intended to be refreshing and social, summer cocktails can be a sure fire way to intoxicate your guests if you don’t take it easy on the alcohol. Many drink combinations mask the flavor of the alcohol so you can end up ingesting much more than you thought. A good rule is to use 1 to 2 ounces of alcohol per drink, per person. Diluted of course, by various sodas, juices or other mixing components.
Blended, Shaken or on the Rocks
There is no golden rule to making cocktails – use what you have in your kitchen and don’t fret over not having the perfect bartender tool or drink specific glasses. Be creative, nobody says that a fruity martini MUST go into a martini glass. It’d look perfectly cute in a champagne flute. Don’t have a shaker? Hold a saucer over the open end of a glass and shake that way. A simple shot of a quality alcohol poured over a few cubes of ice is a timeless way to offer refreshment to your guests.
Tropical paper umbrellas may well be cliché, and the ever-present maraschino cherry can be considered tacky, but no drink should be presented to guests without some form of garnish. When considering your garnish, use an element of the drink itself. For example, a Long Island Iced Tea with a wedge of lemon or a Blushing Lass would look great with a twist of lime on the side of the glass.
Forget the fancy equipment; you don’t need it to make fantastic drinks. Decide ahead of time what kind of alcohol you’ll be needing, and what sort of flavor profile you’re looking for. Do you want it sweet or tart? Fruity or herbal? Most importantly, be creative – even if you’re just following somebody else’s recipe, you can personalize the drink by altering an ingredient here or there.