The long, warm days of summer will soon arrive. There’s no better way to spend them than sipping your favorite beverage with friends, outdoors. As for me, I always love a refreshing seasonal cocktail.
Summertime brings an abundance of fresh fruits and herbs that can be mixed into all sorts of flavorful craft cocktails.
It’s fun to experiment – whether infusing your libation of choice* with an herb or creating interesting simple syrups, be creative! Try some of these paired flavors and you’re on your way to becoming an amateur mixologist.
- Cantaloupe and mint leaves
- Pear and ginger root
- Honeydew and thyme or basil
- Meyers Lemon and just about most herbs: basil, rosemary or mint
- Mandarin orange and tarragon
- Cucumber and cilantro
All of the following cocktails are made as martinis. However, they can be served over ice, too. And of course, you can “spice” them up a bit more with a heavier hand on the alcohol.
If you’re serving martinis, start with a shaker filled with ice. Once all the ingredients are added, shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds, and then pour into a chilled martini glass.
My brother-in-law introduced me to this years ago and it’s always a big hit. In a shaker filled with ice mix:
- 3 ounces gin
- 2 ounces ginger simple syrup**
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
Serve with a slice of lime.
I stole the recipe for this martini from one of my favorite restaurants, and then kicked it up a bit. I added elderflower liquor to cut the acid and enhance the flavor. It’s so good that it’s become my “signature” go-to cocktail. In a shaker filled with ice mix:
- 3 ounces vodka (I prefer Absolute Citron)
- 3 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (strain the pulp)
- 1 ounce plain simple syrup**
- ½ ounce St. Germaine Elderflower Liquor
- ½ ounce of fresh Meyers lemon juice
Satsuma mandarins have a mellower flavor than your basic orange, but any mandarin or tangerine will do. In a shaker filled with ice mix:
- 3 ounces vodka (plain vodka or Absolute Mandarin)
- 3 ounces freshly squeezed satsuma juice (strained of pulp)
- 1 ounce tarragon simple syrup**
- Splash of fresh squeezed lime
You can substitute basil for the mint. In a shaker filled with ice mix:
- 3 ounces vodka
- 2 cups ripe cantaloupe, cut into chunks and pureed
- 1 ounce mint simple syrup
- Splash of fresh squeezed lime or lemon
Serve with a sprig of mint.
Simply muddle about a ½ cup of the herb of choice, pour 2 cups vodka or gin over the herbs and seal in a mason jar. Let it sit for a couple of day, then strain.
To prepare syrup, in a sauce pan, bring one cup water and one cup sugar to a boil. Simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it stand until it’s room temperature.
If you’re making a flavored syrup, add in a heaping amount of the herb. I find you can’t put in too much. For example, about 20 basil leaves or ½ pound grated ginger work great.
Seal and refrigerate for a couple of days. Strain and use. Any leftover syrup can be frozen for several months.
Do you have a favorite summer cocktail that you love to prepare for your friends? Please share some of your favorites below!
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