Health & Fitness

Recipes for summer drinks

Like shoving turtlenecks into the back of the closet, it’s time to retire well-aged whiskeys and get clear liquors, fruit juices, and crushed ice. The warmer seasons call for refreshing drinks, alcoholic or not, served in tall, frosted glasses.

The classical repertoire has a lot to offer in this category; You can hardly go wrong with a gin and tonic or a caipirinha. But many of these summer staples could use a creative update or a touch of surprise without detracting from their honest appeal. Below is a gin and tonic with a Spanish note, sangria with rosé wine and a bellini that hums with one of the new pink proseccos that didn’t exist when Giuseppe Cipriani created the classic in Venice. There’s also a mushy Southside, where rum replaces the usual gin, a Paloma peppered with grapefruit liqueur and chilli, and a cherry spritzer, which always add to the refreshment of a glass of wine, especially red.

For soft drinks, Agua Fresca is the Mexican and Central American quencher that is made by simply adding fruit puree or juice in cold water with a splash of lime and, depending on the degree of ripeness of your fruit, with a touch of sweetener. Almost anything is suitable for this drink, even non-sweet additives such as cucumber. The American version of Fourth of July would be lemonade, an almost blank canvas that can be sprinkled with summery flavors like strawberry, peach or mango.

Beyond these suggestions, you can add liqueurs like triple sec and elderflower or white rum to make a happy hour iced tea, or add a jigger sambuca in iced coffee to serve with or in place of the dessert. Gin in the lemonade is a quick nod to Tom Collins, a summer standby, and crushed fresh berries enliven chilled sparkling apple cider, alcoholic or not.

With fresh fruit like watermelon and strawberries on hand, you’ll have access to festive, colorful summer beverages in no time. Some of it, diced, process in a blender, stir with (or without) the spirit of your choice into a glass of ice and fill up with soda water. You might consider adding grapefruit, lemon, raspberry, and apricot to your fruit liquor and liquor wardrobe beyond the common orange. In small amounts, they can lighten a lot of summer drinks. And for sweetening drinks, especially chilled ones, it’s a good idea to have simple syrup on hand, made by simmering equal parts granulated sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. The syrup will keep for a month when refrigerated.

Warm weather drinks require generous glasses to serve; large ones are best to be chilled before filling. Plastic is often the choice for outdoor use, and manufacturers have improved the quality, although glass has more class. And then there is the question of straws. Avoid Plastic; Look for paper in the disposable department or one of the new, reusable stainless steel papers. There are also silver straws, long and often with a spoon on the end for a classy but comfortable touch.

To serve more than two drinks (or to keep refills ready and transport them outdoors) you will need a pitcher; some have lids or come with a closed ice bucket. A long mixing spoon is a useful accessory, and a good juicer is a good investment too. Frozen drinks also require a blender to reduce the ice to slush or fruit to puree; there are compact batteries on the market that can even go to the beach or picnic. And make sure your ice maker or ice cube trays are ready for overtime.

After Rosie Schaap

Time: 15 minutes plus chilling

Yield: 6 servings

1½ cups of mixed red and pink fruits, such as raspberries, halved strawberries and grapes, pitted cherries, apple cubes with red or pink skin, peeled pink grapefruit or blood orange segments

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

¼ cup of triple sec or other orange liqueur

1 bottle (750 ml) of chilled rosé wine

½ cup of chilled pomegranate juice

1. Put the fruit, sugar and triple sec in a jug and stir. Place in a refrigerator until the fruit is a little soft (at least 4 hours and up to 8).

2. Add wine and pomegranate juice, stir. Serve on ice in wine glasses and add some fruit to each serving.

Adapted from Socarrat Restaurant in New York City

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

2 ½ ounces of gin

8 juniper berries, lightly mashed

2 dashes of Angostura bitter

2 to 3 strips of lemon peel (about ½ lemon)

4 ounces high quality tonic water, chilled

1. Fill a large stemmed wine glass halfway with ice. Add gin, juniper berries and bitters; stir.

2. Turn the lemon peel over the glass to release the oils and pour in. Add tonic water, stir and serve.

Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6 drinks

1 cup of chilled peach puree, preferably white (about 2 ripe peaches or store-bought puree)

1 bottle (750 ml) of rosé prosecco, preferably brut

12 fresh raspberries

1. Put 2 tablespoons of peach puree in 6 champagne flutes. Slowly add 4 to 5 ounces of prosecco, stop while it is bubbling, and continue once it has set.

2. Put 2 raspberries in each glass and serve.

Adapted from “The Ladies’ Village Improvement Society Cookbook”

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 drinks

2 ounces of simple syrup

4 ounces of white rum

2 ounces of lemon juice

1 ounce lime juice

1 cup of crushed ice or small ice cubes

Sprigs of mint for garnish

1. Combine plain syrup, rum and citrus juices in a cocktail shaker with ice; Shake.

2. Strain in a blender with crushed ice. Mix until mushy, then pour into chilled mugs or glasses. Garnish with mint and serve.

Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 drinks

4 ounces of white tequila or mezcal

3 ounces of lime juice

3 ounces of grapefruit juice

1 ounce grapefruit liqueur

4 ounces club soda or seltzer

Pinch of chili powder or cayenne

Grapefruit wedges for garnish

1. Combine tequila, citrus juice and grapefruit liqueur with ice in a cocktail shaker; shake well. Strain in tall glasses with ice and add soda.

2. Scatter chili powder over it. Garnish with grapefruit and serve.

Time: 20 minutes plus cooling (optional)

Yield: 4 drinks

2 cups diced ripe watermelon or honeydew, chilled

2 cups of ice cubes

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon simple syrup or agave syrup to taste (optional)

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Pinch of ground white pepper

Sprigs of basil for garnish

1. Puree the melon with ice in a blender. Stir in lime juice, syrup to taste, salt and pepper.

2. Transfer to a jug, add 2 cups of water, stir and let cool or pour into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with basil and serve.

Time: 15 minutes plus chilling

Yield: 6 drinks

4 cups of brewed lemon verbenea tea, chilled or cold water

3 tablespoons of simple syrup

Juice of 3 lemons (approx. ¾ cup)

1 cup of diced strawberries, mashed

Lemon wedges and strawberry halves for garnish

1. Put tea or water in a pitcher or other container. Simply stir in the syrup, lemon juice and strawberry puree. Chill for at least 1 hour.

2. Stir well, pour into tall glasses filled with ice, garnish with lemon and strawberries and serve.

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

1 glass (4 to 6 ounces) of fruity red wine (white or rosé can be substituted)

4 ounces of sparkling water

Lemon peel

3 ripe Bing cherries, pitted and halved

Pour wine into a large wine glass or goblet. Add sparkling water. Add lemon twist and cherries and serve.

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