Hemingway Daiquiri

hemingwaydaiquiri-diycocktailsJuly 21 is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. I’m using that as an excuse to mix up some Hemingway Daiquiris, so named because the drink was (supposedly) invented for good old Papa by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert at El Floridita in Havana, Cuba. So shake up a few of these bad boys, grab a copy of your favorite Hemingway novel (might I suggest “The Sun Also Rises”), and celebrate!

I made mine with Brugal Extra Dry, because those folks are always sending me lovely samples. But you can use whatever white rum you like. I would not suggest using dark or gold rum at all. Some say Hemingway liked his frozen and doubled in size (aka the Papa Doble), which would mean blending this with some ice instead of shaking. I haven’t tried it myself, but the weather definitely calls for it. Remember that maraschino liqueur is NOT maraschino cherry juice. Not even close. Luxardo is the most common brand, and it’s a good one.
Hemingway Daiquiri

1 1/2 ounces white rum
1 ounce fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into coupe or Martini glass. Optional: Garnish with lime wheel or grapefruit twist.

Fresh Cherry Margarita (and Camarena Tequila review)

CherryMargaritaFamilia Camarena sent me some tequila to review, along with a cute little cocktail tool kit. All I could think when I saw it was “Margarita time!” But all the summer fruit around made me want to get a little more creative than that. Since I couldn’t get Margaritas off my mind, I mixed up some Cherry Margaritas. I made this a little strong, since I like to taste the tequila and this is nice tequila. You can adjust the tequila and lime to your tastes.

(After the recipe, I’ll give my thoughts about Camarena Tequila.)

Cherry Margarita

12 cherries (pitted)
1 ounce light agave nectar
2 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

Muddle the cherries and the agave nectar at the bottom of a shaker or mixing glass. Add the tequila and lime juice along with ice and then shake vigorously. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice.

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Low-Calorie Piña Colada (aka Skinny Piña Colada)

skinnypinacoladaThis drink has that lovely coconut-pineapple flavor that makes the Piña Colada so popular … only with half the calories. Savvy Housekeeping made coconut-infused vodka, and we got together for a low-calorie summer tropical cocktail party. Call it a Skinny Colada or whatever you like, but one thing is for sure: It’s damn tasty!

The infusion uses dried, shredded coconut (the kind used for baking, so you probably have half an old bag of the stuff in your cupboard). Using vodka let the pure coconut flavor shine through, but it would also be good with a light rum. We made ours a double, but you could easily halve it for a smaller drink. We also juiced a fresh pineapple, but the canned stuff would work just as well. Grab your tiny umbrella and get mixing!

Skinny Piña Colada

3 ounces Coconut-infused vodka (recipe at the link)
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake drink and strain into a glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

DIY Strawberry Soda

diystrawberrysodaWhen I imagine the perfect strawberry soda, it smells like a Strawberry Shortcake doll and tastes like a strawberry dessert. But most of the strawberry sodas I’ve tried taste more like cherry, if they even taste like fruit at all. Fresh strawberries are everywhere, so it’s the perfect time to make a DIY strawberry soda. (Orange soda fans can try my DIY Orange Soda recipe.) Sometimes a non-alcoholic drink is in order!

This recipe is closer to the store-bought soda flavor of, say, Faygo or Crush—only with the taste of real strawberries. If you want to go for a more subtle or sophisticated flavor, you could add some mint, basil, rosemary or tarragon for added depth and cut back a little on the sugar. Honey and strawberry go together perfectly, so you could also skip the sugar altogether for a healthier option. Raspberries, blueberries and cranberries added to the mix could add some tartness without changing the berry goodness of the drink. As a bonus, the strained berries make a great dessert topping.

If you substitute honey, start with 1 1/3 cups honey as a replacement for the sugar and adjust to taste. If you are using herbs for flavor, add them with the strawberries when making the syrup.

DIY Strawberry Soda
(Makes almost 2 cups of syrup)

1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon citric acid

Add strawberries, water, sugar, and citric acid to a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and refrigerate the cooled syrup. For each serving, mix 1 part syrup with 5 parts seltzer, adjusting to your personal taste. Mix syrup and seltzer on a glass-by-glass basis rather than mixing a large batch and storing it.

Note: Citric acid powder, also known as sour salt, is easy to find at many markets, but you can order it online from Amazon, too. The citric acid is optional but does add tartness to the recipe and extend the shelf life.


sangriaI love sangria. But when I see ready-made sangria in the supermarket or liquor store, I get a little confused. Isn’t the point of sangria to use up mediocre wine and leftover fruit? I guess I have a very pragmatic way of approaching such a delicious beverage. Besides, part of the fun is picking out which fruits go into it and then eating the fruit as you sip the drink.

Below is the basic recipe for sangria, but it’s an ideal DIY cocktail because you can improvise so easily. The best sangria I made featured peaches, meyer lemon slices, and strawberries along with a strawberry liqueur instead of triple sec. While you don’t have to use bad wine (though I sometimes do!), it’s a waste of money to use expensive wine since you are adding so many other flavors.

You can do this with white wine or a rosé, for an even more summery drink. It’s perfect for barbecues and big parties. No bartender needed!


1 750 milliliter bottle of red wine
2 cups chopped fruit
2 ounces Cognac (or brandy or dark rum)
2 ounces triple sec (or other fruit liqueur)
2 ounces simple syrup

Combine all ingredients and let them set in the refrigerator overnight.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman