Cucumber Cocktails

Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler from First Look Then Cook

Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler from First Look Then Cook

Though the summer heat is not as intense here as it was just a few weeks ago, I still require cooling cocktails, dammit! Cucumbers are delicious and also [cool as a cucumber joke]. Here are some delightful summer drinks made with cucumbers!

Cucumber Basil Gimlet ~ Delicate and sweet (but not too sweet), this little number is just right for muggy summer nights.

Cucumber Lemon Drop ~ Refreshing and light, this twist on a “girly drink” is something everyone can agree on.

Watermelon-Cucumber Refresher ~ When watermelon and cucumber join forces to cool you down, they’re an unstoppably delicious duo.

Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler ~ Mint and Cilantro give an herbal boost to cucumber, with a little help from agave and tequila.

Green Machine ~ Honeydew adds a sweet touch to this tequila and cucumber drink.

Fancy Free

fancyfreeThis little-known classic cocktail is basically a gussied-up Old Fashioned. While the addition of maraschino liqueur makes it a little sweeter than an Old Fashioned, it also gives the drink a funky kick and subtle bitter almond flavor.

Some people like to strain the drink and serve it up (without ice). I don’t. Controversy! Or, you know, personal preference.

Fancy Free

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
orange twist for garnish

Put several ice cubes (or one large ice cube) in an Old Fashioned glass. Add other ingredients and stir, then garnish with an orange twist.

If you want to learn how to make up your own cocktails based on the classics, buy the DIY Cocktails book. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the Kindle version for free.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Basil Cocktails for Summer

Basil Juleps from David the Tornado

Basil Juleps from David the Tornado

My basil plants are going nuts, and a person can only make so much pesto. So it’s time for more basil cocktails. Basil is a cocktail-friendly herb, so grab a glass and a handful of basil already!

Cucumber Basil Gimlet ~ This delicate and pleasant gin cocktail is perfect for combating the hot-weather blues.

Basil Julep ~ While we’re basil-ing up the classics, this basil-ified take on the Mint Julep sounds just right for summer.

Basil Lime Cooler ~ A vodka highball with an herbal twist is a great sipper for barbecues and leisurely afternoons by the pool.

Chasing Basil Cocktail ~ Watermelon, cucumber, elderflower liqueur and gin! Need I say more? Get on it.

Basil Beerade ~ It’s like lemonade, only with basil and beer. Sounds good to me.

DIY Blackberry Liqueur

diyblackberryliqueur
It’s blackberry season! Depending on where you live, fresh blackberries may just be lurking at every corner. Here’s a fun way to turn that delicious bounty into something drinkable.

If blackberry picking isn’t an option for you, go with the frozen kind, which are preserved when ripe. The blackberries in the produce section tend to be sour and unripe, since a ripe blackberry turns to a mushy purple mess quickly.

I actually prefer the DIY variety to commercial blackberry liqueur (aka creme de mure).

DIY Blackberry Liqueur
2 cups blackberries (defrost first, if using frozen)
3/4 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups vodka
1/2-inch piece of lime zest without pith (optional)
1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)

In a sealable glass jar, muddle the blackberries and lime zest lightly to release juice and then add brandy and vodka. Seal and shake. Steep for 3 days, then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down to extract juice. Filter through a coffee filter or two layers of cheesecloth.

Add simple syrup to the strained infusion and shake in sealed jar. Let rest for one day before use.

The recipe I developed and posted here was first published on Serious Eats.

Fruit Smash Cocktails

Tequila Peach Smash from CaliZona

Tequila Peach Smash from CaliZona

Summertime is fruit time. Take advantage of that juicy, sweet summer fruit by smashing it up in a cocktail! Aside from being delicious, it’s a great way to use up fruit that’s a little on the mushy side.

Plum Smash ~ Plum and thyme is a refreshing combination that only gets better when bourbon is involved.

Balsamic Strawberry Smash ~ Balsamic vinegar gives a new dimension to the ordinary strawberry in this fun cocktail.

Fontana Pisco Smash ~ Pisco, red grapes and Reisling = three times the grapes, for three times the fun.

Tequila Peach Smash ~ How can you not want to drink a boozy peach? Answer me that! Sub in another liquor if tequila is not your thing.

Blueberry Smash ~ Blueberry, vodka and St Germain are a match made in heaven.

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

bbqplumcocktailThe grill is already out for summer anyway, so why not grill your cocktail? (Or rather, grill the fruit that goes in the cocktail. No glasses or shakers on the grill!)

I got together with Savvy Housekeeping, and that’s exactly what we did. And it’s delicious … just not in the way that we expected. We thought it would just add a smoky flavor to our drink. But grilling did so much more.

Putting the plum on the grill for a bit deepened the plum’s flavor and brought out the sweetness and brightness of the fruit. We were using nice plums that were a little on the tart side, and the grilling brought out the natural sugars and helped the plum blend better with the other flavors in the cocktail.

So grilling is a nice way to improve slightly tart fruit (and let’s face it, supermarket stone fruits are usually too tart). Have some fruit that is a little disappointing? Get that grill out! It’ll make a great cocktail.

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

1 plum
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce honey liqueur (you can make your own)
1/2 ounce agave nectar (sub simple syrup if needed)
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Cut the plum in half and remove the pit.Grill the plum on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to caramelize and you see grill marks. Turn over and let it cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until the plum is soft. Remove from the grill.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients except the bitters. Muddle the plum thoroughly. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice. Put on the lid and shake for at least a solid minute, or until ice starts to form on the outside of the container. This is especially important if the plum is still hot. You don’t want a warm cocktail.

Strain the drink into a glass. Add a drop or two of Peychaud’s bitters.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Spiked Popsicles

Bellini Popsicles from Honestly Yum

Bellini Popsicles from Honestly Yum

Has choosing between a cocktail or a popsicle been tearing you apart? If so, the answer to this totally-real summertime dilemma is a frozen cocktail pop! They’re easy to make and will satisfy your desire for something boozy and super cold. I’m nothing if not a problem-solver.

Pimm’s Cup Popsicles ~ My love for the Pimm’s Cup as a summer treat is well-documented. The garnishing possibilities of the drink translate into great add-ins for the pop.

Costa Rican Watermelon Mojito Popsicles ~ Watermelon Mojito in frozen form? Case closed!

Campari Cantaloupe Popsicles ~ The bitter aperitif Campari pairs well with sweet cantaloupe for a very grown up frozen treat.

Bellini Popsicles With Edible Flowers ~ A fruity champagne cocktail in a popsicle looks gets even more delightful with the addition of flowers.

Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Popsicles ~ It’s as if all summer desires were frozen into one delicious popsicle.

Check out even more boozy popsicle recipes

Pimm’s Cup

pimmscupThe Pimm’s Cup is one of my favorite warm-weather drinks. It’s quick and easy, but tastes special. It also involves elaborate garnishing, and I do love when my cocktail comes with a snack.

While the recipe is very flexible and the only right way to make one is the way that tastes good to you … there is a wrong way. A lot of recipes say “lemonade” or “sparkling lemonade” because they are English recipes that assume a less-sweet, effervescent lemonade that’s different than what we have here in the States.

American lemonade is not carbonated, and American sparkling lemonade is actually much sweeter and less bubbly than the kind they have overseas. A lot of people therefore make it with 7Up or ginger ale. Go for it, if that’s your thing. But I’ve found 50/50 combo of lemonade (that is, the kind made with just sugar, water and lemons) and club soda makes a refreshing Pimm’s Cup.

This is how I like my Pimm’s Cup. You can adjust by adding more/less club soda/lemonade and garnish with whatever sounds good to you. Traditional choices include: cucumber, strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, mint leaves and borage flowers. The strawberry/cucumber/mint combination is my absolute favorite garnish for this drink both for the flavor it adds to the cocktail and for the refreshing snacking possibilities.

Pimm’s Cup

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (If you can’t find it, make your own Pimm’s!)
3 ounces lemonade
3 ounces club soda
Strawberry and cucumber slices, sprig of mint

Add strawberry slices to a Collins glass filled with ice, then pour the Pimm’s, lemonade and club soda in to taste. Add cucumber and mint for additional garnish.

Pisco Sour

pisco2I love a good Pisco Sour! It’s rich and flavorful while being light and airy at the same time. A wonderful summer drink for people who want something with more to it than a Mojito.

Savvy Housekeeping was kind enough to invite me over for a Pisco Sour party (that involved the two of us drinking Pisco Sours). Could this be your new summer drink? I think so!

(Note: If you are worried about consuming raw egg whites, you can use pasteurized eggs … or make a different drink.)

Pisco Sour
1 1/2 ounces Pisco
3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 egg whites
2 ounces club soda
2 dash bitters

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. Shake for a long time, at least a solid minute. You want to agitate the eggs enough to form a foam. Pour the cocktail into a glass. Add the club soda and top with bitters. To make a design with the bitters, swirl it with a toothpick.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Cocktails Made With Cider

The Sideshow Cocktail from Pickled Capers

The Sideshow Cocktail from Pickled Capers

Cider isn’t just something you drink in the fall! It can also be a lovely cocktail ingredient that gives a little zip to your sip (I am totally joking with that phrasing although the sentiment is accurate). Here are some crisp and bright cider cocktails perfect for any time of year.

The Sideshow Cocktail ~ Mixing cider with gin gives a summery twist to the cider cocktail. Add in a little herbacious Benedictine and bitters and you have a winner.

Cider Rum Punch ~ Thyme simple syrup adds a fresh flavor to this punch that makes it a fun choice for summer.

Apple Cider Sangria ~ Few things are more summery than Sangria. Have fun with the choice of fruit and make it for a backyard barbecue.

Maple Cider Cherry Whiskey ~ Grab some cherries from one of the summer roadside stands and get to making this cider and whiskey cocktail!

Hard Cider Ginger Shandy ~ Ginger beer and hard cider are a refreshing take on a shandy that will go great with a sunny day.