By Chef Judi Gallagher –
Ah, summer. Relaxing on the pool deck with a pitcher of summer cocktails. Summer brunch that starts with a fresh mimosa or bloody Mary. Or a full-fledged cocktail party at a friend’s beachside garden at sunset. Summer and refreshing cocktails seem made for each other. Every host should know how make at least three or four summer cocktails.
Lately, craft cocktails and infused cocktails have become popular, and I have the utmost respect for mixologists, who – much in the same way that chefs are challenged to come up with new food menus each season – are tasked with dreaming up intricate, interesting cocktails. So today I’m tipping my toque to bartenders across the land and, in homage to them, sharing some of my favorite cocktail recipes. They’re all refreshing, different and flavorful – just what you want for a party for two or lots more. Happy summer sipping!
Many cocktails call for Simple Syrup. Make up a large amount and keep it in the refrigerator. Here’s the recipe:
4 cups sugar
4 c ups water
1 ounce proof vodka for preservation (optional)
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir gently until the sugar dissolves and simmer for one more minute. Add the vodka, us fusing. Transfer to a clean bottle or container. Simple Syrup keeps refrigerated for up to a month. This recipe yields one quart.
Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria
1/2 cup water
2 rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
1 orange, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
4 cups (32 ounces) chilled seltzer
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled sparkling wine, such as Champagne or Prosecco
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, add rhubarb. Transfer mixture to a medium heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a pitcher or large bowl, combine orange juice, orange, and strawberries. To serve, add cooled rhubarb mixture, seltzer, sparkling wine, and ice.
Sex on the Beach
1 measure peach schnapps
1 measure vodka
2 measures fresh orange juice
3 measures cranberry and peach juice
ice and crushed ice
dash lemon juice orange peel piece to decorate
Shake the peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and cranberry and peach juice over ice until well frosted. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and squeeze on the lemon juice. Dress with the orange peel.
This drink is named after an historical colonial tavern in Philadelphia. It yields about 1 ½ gallons, enough for about 48 fine-ounce pours. Great for a party on the back porch.
2 quarts cranberry-pomegranate tea, brewed and cooled
1 bottle cognac
1 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
½ cup apple brandy
½ cup cranberry or pomegranate juice
½ cup sweet vermouth
2 cups hibiscus syrup (recipe below)
½ cups sugar dissolved into lemon juice
2 ½ cups fresh lemon juice
48 ounces ginger ale
Mix together all ingredients except the ginger ale in a large container. Divide into 3 approximately half-gallon batches. Place each batch into a punch bowl and add 16 ounces of ginger just before serving wo the punch doesn’t go flat. To serve, ladle punch over ice into a wine glass. Garnish with a lemon slice or hibiscus flower on a pick.
3 cups loosely packed, dried hibiscus flowers
5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Bring water to boil in a large pot and remove from heat. Stir dried hibiscus flowers into the water gently. Cover and allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Strain out the hibiscus flowers. Bring hibiscus water back to a simmer and add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and spice, stirring until incorporated. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.
1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
¼ cup honey
6 tablespoons gin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix hot water and dried lavender blossoms in a bowl. Let steep 5 minutes; be careful not to over-steep or mixture will taste soapy. Whisk in ¼ cup honey. Strain into another bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the honey syrup, gin and lemon juice; strain into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into 2 chilled martini glasses.
Chihuahua Oyster Shooter
(from Shake, Stir, Pour by Katie Loeb. Quarry Books. $24.99)
8 jalapeno peppers
12 sprigs cilantro, rinsed and bruised
1 bottle (1.75 L) vodka
Place the peppers and cilantro into a large jar. Top iwht the vodka. Cover and allow to infuse for up to 72 hours. Strain and funnel into a clean bottle for storage. Keep refrigerated. To make the shooter, place a shucked oyster in a shot glass and top with 1 ounce of the infused vodka. Add a tiny splash of tomato juice you want to.