It’s only mid-June, and we’ve already had many a serious scorcher in the Ohio River Valley. It’s easy, although maybe not accurate, to think this is because of climate change. Regardless of the reason, maybe we should just pray away the carbon emissions, right Gov. Bevin? Anywho, in our fair city, we know hot and humid go hand in hand, and, with warm, sunny days come poolside parties, cookouts, lake trips and, most important, refreshing libations. Each season, I lay out a few ideas for delectable beverages that’ll wet your whistle and wow your friends (with minimal hassle and ingredients), and the Summer of 2017 (aka dumpster fire) is no different. You won’t need much more than booze, ice and fresh fruit, but let me lay out how to throw all those things in a cup (no glass in pool area!) and gulp down some summer love.
Frosé (frozen rose) — Last summer, Frosé stormed the beverage scene and landed in the hands of poolside partiers and thirsty bar patrons who were searching for the perfect, refreshing and beautiful libation. On Instagram, over 20,000 photos are logged under #frosé. The original recipe consists of a dry rosé, strawberries and lime juice or agave syrup, all blended. This summer, might I suggest a riff on the original, like adding coconut water, frozen pineapple chunks and Campari. Or, add a chunk of raspberry sorbet, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur and mint sprigs. Lastly, my personal favorite: blend frozen peaches and simple syrup with a dry rosé, and top with a Fernet Branca floater. Pro tip: freeze the rosé in ice trays first for easy and consistent blending.
Spritz — The Italian Spritz is sheer perfection in summertime for those who crave a little bitterness in their beverages (as I do!). Originally an iconic, limited-ingredient Northern Italian cocktail, the Spritz consists of Aperol, Prosecco, soda water and an orange wedge. Bubbly effervescence, a bitter bite and a citrus kick. Many a bar across the country have interpreted this cocktail in various ways with herbs and syrups and different aperitifs, and she’s giving the mimosa a run for her money as the most popular sparking cocktail of the moment. My suggestion? Play with the ratios at home and wow your friends with a pitcher for the pool.
Gose Beer-tail — I’ve talked at length about my obsession over gose and sour beers, and that likely won’t change in the near future. The Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose is my favorite day-drinking elixir, perfect for when you are beside, or in, a body of water, so why not bump up the alcohol content and add some complexity to this pretty, little tartlet with a shot of something delightful? Salt the rim of a glass and add ½ ounce of tequila, ½ ounce of mezcal, a splash of simple syrup and then fill with the gose. Sprawl out on lawn chair. Repeat.
Sangria Iced Tea — There are few things in this world more quintessential to a toasty, Southern summer than iced tea. And, this past week, while I gallivanted around Chicago with my gal pal, Jess, and she continuously ordered vodka with iced tea, I figured she was onto something. Alas, I took some notes from her drink of choice to my kitchen and played with some additives, and it turns out, iced tea can be incorporated into a sangria for a refreshing crowd pleaser. Mix six to eight cups of iced tea with a bottle of a fruit-forward, but relatively dry, white wine (a cheap sauvignon blanc will do just fine). Add lots of colorful fresh fruit (peaches, lemon wheels and blueberries are perfection) and garnish each glass with a full mint sprig. No offense to your MeeMaw, but this tea will put hers to shame.
Each season, new cocktails come about to complement the weather, the food and our moods, and I always wonder — What will they think of next? Admittedly, the refreshing delights of summer have long been my favorites. The creativity is endless, so have fun with ingredients at home. I like to switch out one aspect of a classic cocktail and see what I can come up with. As long as your spirits are quality and your fruit is fresh, something good will come from it, even if it’s just a solid buzz.