Summer and backyards go together like lenders and a mortgage, or like hot dogs and the Fourth of July. Backyards are a staple of the true entertainers house during the summer. What else do we think of with entertaining, summer, and backyards? Oh yes, that sweet nectar of the gods that brings joy and happiness to so many. We are talking about the summer cocktail. Its chilled invigorating spirit and effervescence makes it impossible not to partake. As the afternoon heat rockets, the sweet smell of mint and basil fills the air as the summer cocktail takes the stage in every backyard BBQ. It’s the small enhancement to your party that people will talk about for weeks to come and bagger you for the recipe.
But what makes a perfect summer cocktail? Is it the look, the smell or the fresh fruit that’s only available during the summer? The answer, each one is vitally important to making this the best season for cocktails. Exciting neon colors capture attention from afar creating intrigue and desire. When up close, the smell of basil, fruit, and cucumber fill the air setting your olfactories into overdrive. Then there is the produce that only summer could provide. From peaches that make you water at the mouth, to the watermelon that could only be described as irresistible, the summer fruit and vegetables are what summer cocktails are made of.
Below are five Summer Cocktails that should be part of every backyard fiesta. All are based on the three attributes that will make you keep coming back for more. However, we all must remember to drink in moderation despite what our taste buds might say.
Carolina Peach Sangria:
What better drink to start with then one with fresh summer peaches? Any Sacramento Valley farmers market can help provide this simple twist on the classic wine punch.
1 (750-milliliter) bottle rosé wine
3/4 cup vodka*
1/2 cup peach nectar
6 tablespoons thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 (6-oz.) package fresh raspberries
2 cups club soda, chilled
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peaches and raspberries. Cover and chill 8 hours.
2. Stir in chilled club soda just before serving.
*Peach-flavored vodka may be substituted. Omit peach nectar.
This summer cocktail is the perfect Gin drink that will leave people wanting more. This drink is so refreshing on a hot summer day that you wont mind Sacramernto’s 100-degree heat.
1.5 oz gin (or 3 Tbsp)
4-6 cucumber slices
1/4 lime, sliced
4 oz tonic water
6 mint leaves
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1. Add mint, lime, gin, sugar (if using) to shaker and muddle.
2. Add cucumber slices to shaker and shake vigorously.
3. Pour mixture over glass filled with ice and top with tonic water.
4. Stir, let set for a few minutes for the flavors to enhance and enjoy.
I’m pretty sure that after watermelon in a thesaurus come the words summer and refreshing. Why not add it to a cocktail and make it the biggest hit at the party. This twist on the classic margarita adds the flavor of mint and watermelon, a combination that cannot be matched.
4 cups seeded and chopped watermelon
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup tequila*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
Garnish: fresh mint sprig
1. Place watermelon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze 4 hours or until firm.
2. Coat rims of cocktail glasses with lime juice; dip in sugar.
3. Process frozen watermelon, tequila, and next 4 ingredients in a blender until slushy. Pour into glasses. Garnish, if desired.
*1/2 cup orange or apple juice may be substituted for tequila.
Plum Basil Gin Fizz:
Another stone fruit cocktail that will blow you away is truly something to behold. This is one of my favorites because of the mix of sweet plum, and the effervescence of basil and juniper that fill your senses. If you are entertaining on the patio this drink is a must and will have people coming back again and again.
1 ripe plum, pitted, half diced and half sliced
5 large basil leaves
2 oz. gin
1 oz. simple syrup
Seltzer, to top drink
Lime wedge, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the diced plum and basil leaves.
Fill the shaker with ice; add the gin & simple syrup.
Place on the shaker lid and shake for 1 minute.
Pour into a glass filled the sliced plum.
Fill glass to the top with seltzer and garnish with lime wedge.
What would a summer Cocktail drink menu be without a cherry and small batch whiskey? The hints of vanilla flowing off the whiskey blend perfectly with farmers market cherries. It’s an easy drink to enjoy on warm summer nights while playing board games or a little bit of Cornhole.
1 ounce chilled club soda
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
2 ounces malt whiskey, preferably Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey
2 dashes of celery bitters (optional)
4 cherries, preferably Rainier, pitted, plus 1 cherry for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the 4 pitted cherries. Add ice and all of the remaining ingredients except the club soda and garnish. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass, stir in the club soda and garnish with a cherry.
Summer cocktails should be a staple in every entertainer’s tool belt. Something that when the mood strikes and the people are in abundance they can utilize and dazzle everyone with drinks that are sure to be show stoppers. Remember everyone drink in moderation and as always have a great summer and enjoy the drinks.