The Taste of Summer – Cocktails For Summer
While a long gin and tonic or an icy cold beer might hit the spot as the mercury climbs, why not mix it up a bit with a cocktail or two? Here are some options certain to get you in a holiday mood. Recipes and instructions abound online.
Nothing says poolside at a holiday resort like this combination of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. It’s almost obligatory to add a cocktail umbrella along with the garnish of a pineapple chunk and a maraschino cherry. The generally accepted story of the Piña Colada is that it was invented by the barman at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan in 1954. It is now the official drink of Puerto Rico.
Although it’s often associated with Hawaii, the Mai Tai was invented in San Francisco by Victor J. Bergeron — better known as Trader Vic. The classic recipe uses aged rum, lime, sugar syrup, orange curaçao and a syrup called orgeat, made from almonds. The signature drink at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a sweeter version including orange juice, with a mint and pineapple garnish. It’s sneered at by purists, but why not try both?
While we have this rum thing going, we need to talk about the Daiquiri. Hailing from Cuba, it adds sugar syrup and/or triple sec and lime juice to the rum, which can be white, aged or gold. For a Frozen Daiquiri, toss all the ingredients into a blender with crushed ice. For a Banana Daiquiri, toss in a banana as well. You’ll either love it or hate it.
A classic Margarita is pretty much like a Daiquiri, but made with tequila. First you need to prepare your glass, by running a wedge of lime round the rim and dipping it into coarse salt. Mix equal quantities of blanco tequila, triple sec and lime juice, shake with ice, strain into the glass and you’re done. For something different, try a Cucumber Margarita. Add a dash of cucumber juice, blended and strained through a fine-mesh strainer.
Wait. Isn’t Sangria made with red wine? Well usually, yes. But there’s no official recipe for this Spanish wine punch. And maybe a lighter, white version is a nice alternative for summer. Start with a bottle of dry, crisp white wine. It doesn’t have to be Spanish — Sauvignon Blanc works well. Add a sliced lemon, a sliced lime and sugar to taste and muddle it all in a jug. Add a good slosh of brandy, more sliced fruit like apple, peach and strawberries, and ice cubes. Top up glasses with soda water if you want a longer drink.
Summer is peach season, which means it’s also Bellini season. Invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, the classic Bellini is made with peach puree and champagne. Yes, you have to peel, blend and chill the peaches, but it’s worth it. Add about ¼ cup of the puree to each champagne flute. Top up with your favourite sparkling or, for a lighter drink, with Prosecco.
Gin was the favourite spirit of the British in steamy India during the years of the Raj, so it’s a natural go-to drink on hot summer evenings. But look beyond the gin and tonic. The Southside, a favourite of Chicago mobsters during Prohibition, mixes gin, sugar syrup and lime with muddled fresh mint. Or, for a long drink, try one of the oldest cocktails on record. The Gin Fizz, just gin, lemon juice and sugar, topped up with sparkling water, goes back to at least 1887 and was wildly popular in American from the 1900s to the 1940s.
A spritz is essentially a blend of sparkling wine (usually Prosecco), a bitter liqueur and soda water. It hails from northern Italy, where around 300,000 spritzes are consumed each day in the Veneto region alone. The luridly orange Aperol Spritz is probably the most popular version, but you can make a great spritz with Campari or, for something completely different, with Limoncello. Use the 3-2-1 formula – three parts Prosecco, two parts liqueur and one part soda, plus ice. As they say in Italy, cin cin.