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.

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.

Lillet Rosé Cocktails

Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria from Serious Eats

Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria from Serious Eats

The weather just keeps heating up, so this is the perfect time to turn our cocktail attentions toward the light and refreshing French aperitif Lillet Rosé. It’s nice on its own or perhaps with a grapefruit slice, but it’s also a good team player. Here are some fun recipes for using this herbaceous ingredient:

Cardamom Blush ~ Cardamom-infused Lillet Rosé turns a simple gin cocktail into so much more.

Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail ~ This one also pairs gin with the aperitif, along with the addition of grapefruit and edible flowers for delightful effect.

La Coquette ~ Fresh strawberries and Aperol bring out the complexities of Lillet Rosé for a bright Spring cocktail.

Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria ~ It’s sangria weather! Citrus and bubbles go well together.

Lillet Rose Cooler ~ Lemongrass, grapefruit and sparkling wine collaborate with Lillet Rose to make any heat wave bearable.

Fig Cocktails

Honey Fig Redemption from 12 Bottle Bar

Honey Fig Redemption from 12 Bottle Bar

Figs are fantastic! They’re everywhere right now, as we transition from the hot hot summer into the (still hot for some reason) fall. Muddle it, infuse with it, roast and puree it! There’s so much figs can do for your cocktails.

Hey, Fig Spender ~ This drink uses a fig-infused bourbon as a base for a Manhattan-like cocktail. I used Dubonnet, but it’s also good with sweet vermouth. The fig-infused bourbon would also make a great Old Fashioned!

Fig Cocktail No. 1 ~ For a lighter, more summery drink, try this one made with vodka, rosemary simple syrup, lemon, and of course figs. A fresh and unexpected flavor combo!

Two-Hit Fig Punch ~ Whiskey and spiced rum turn this fresh fruit punch into a complex and very adult party punch.

Honey Fig Redemption ~ Rye and red wine, along with honey-mint syrup and lemon, elevate the simple fig into a sophisticated cocktail.

Roasted Fig Cocktail ~ A roasted fig and balsamic vinegar puree is the star of this whiskey drink, which also has the autumnal flavor of maple syrup on its side. Yum!

Cynar Cocktail: Red Letter Day

redletterdayI didn’t realize what Cynar could do until I went to Buenos Aires, where it’s a more popular cocktail ingredient than vodka. Even though Cynar is made with artichoke leaves, it doesn’t actually taste like artichokes. It has more of a bittersweet herbal flavor that adds a little kick to drinks. (The Cynar folks tell me it’s named after cynarin, a property of artichokes that makes your tastebuds perceive food and drink as sweeter.)

Speaking of the Cynar folks … they sent me a lovely package that included Cynar and some other cocktail ingredients. I don’t post recipes sent by brands unless I like them. And this one was a big hit with me! It’s light and refreshing (perfect warm for late-summer nights) but with a sophisticated depth and hint of sweetness that doesn’t take over your palate like sweeter Mojito-style cocktails can.

Cynar isn’t as whammo bold as Campari, though they are both aperitifs. But it still offers that touch of Italy and bitterness that is perfect for before a meal (or after).

Red Letter Day

1 ounce Cynar
1 ounce Applejack
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
1/4 ounce grenadine
Club soda to top (about 4 ounces, according to taste)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients except the club soda and bitters into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Then strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with soda and bitters.

I used Laird’s Bonded Applejack, Morris Kitchen ginger syrup, and Fee Brothers grenadine. But you could make your own ginger syrup by cooking up  2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, and a six-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced. As for grenadine, I recommend making DIY grenadine.

Recipe by Tonia Guffey of Dram in Brooklyn

Cantaloupe Cocktails

Borderline Escape from Saveur

Borderline Escape from Saveur

Cantaloupe. It’s not just for breakfast. Late August is a great time to get juicy, flavorful cantaloupe—whether it’s from the supermarket, farmers market, or your own garden. It’s an easy fruit to convert into a cocktail ingredient. You could also try any melons similar to cantaloupe, like gaia or ambrosia melons. No melon liqueur necessary! (Although if you want to use your fresh fruit to make your own melon liqueur that will kick Midori’s butt any day, try this simple DIY melon liqueur recipe.)

Pimm’s and Cantaloupe ~ I’m a big fan of Pimm’s, and this simple sparkling recipe is a refreshing way to use the stuff besides the famous Pimm’s Cup.

Cantaloupe Cooler ~ This vodka cocktail has a little lemon, cucumber, pepper, and basil to bring excitement to the humble cantaloupe.

Borderline Escape Cocktail ~ Cantaloupe and tequila are a fantastic pairing. Add chili, lime, and salt … and you’re on your way to a summer party drink.

Cantaloupe Cocktail ~ A little gin and ginger turn cantaloupe into a sophisticated tipple for brunch or sunny afternoons.

Melon Rumballa ~ Use a combination of melons for this fun rum punch to make it colorful, or stick with whatever melon you have on hand. Who said a melon baller wasn’t a practical tool?

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

cucumberbasilgimlet

The garden at Savvy Housekeeping is overflowing with cucumbers! So we got together and made this lovely, late-summer cocktail with some of the bounty. It has a delicate and sweet flavor that’s a good antidote to the muggy weather we’re having now. We used lemon cucumbers and purple basil, but you can also use English cucumber and whatever your favorite basil variety is.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

1 English cucumber or 2-3 small lemon cucumbers
8 basil leaves
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 oz gin

Peel the cucumbers, then chop into chunks and discard the peels. Muddle basil, cucumber, lime, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin, then shake for 15-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping