Summertime brings forth thoughts of hammocks, vacations and heat. Cold cocktails help to beat the temps and give backyard parties a little more pizzazz.
Once again I have invited experts in the world of spirits, wine and beer, including sommeliers, mixologists, restaurants, pubs, distillers and manufacturers to send their Summer-inspired cocktails. The responses were filled with heat-beating concoctions dedicated to the season of fun and sun. The list was compiled and narrowed down to the ones most in spirit with the theme and representing uniqueness, great taste and visual appeal.
I present to you the...
Top 10 Summer Inspired Cocktails 2014
Dirty Martini by the Sea
(see image above)
Who: Harbor View Hotel
Where: Martha's Vineyard
Inspiration: Evenings on the beach
Recipe: Housemade sour mix: Mix two cups of simple syrup to one cup of lemon juice, one cup of lime juice, and 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice, 1 2/3 oz. housemade seaweed vodka (see directions below), 2 tsp. vermouth, 1 Greek olive. Combine vodka and vermouth in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain liquid into a martini glass and garnish with olive. Housemade seaweed vodka (yields 8 cups): 14 oz. of washed, purple seaweed. 8 cups of vodka. Place seaweed and vodka into a sealed vacuum bag and cook sous vide at 125 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and chill, then filter the mix through cheesecloth and bottle.
Who: Plat 99 ~ William Mohring (Lead Mixologist)
Inspiration: What I especially love about summer is being able to plant a garden in my backyard. Sometimes it’s both vegetables and herbs; this year it was just herbs. I really enjoy the process of gardening from planting to cooking with fresh herbs from my backyard. There is just something so rewarding about the spoils of our toil. It’s also a similar enjoyment in creating cocktails. I have the chance to work with so many ingredients that once started in soil, and I pay homage to all the freshness that summer offers with the ingredients chosen for this drink.
Recipe: 1oz Death Door’s gin, .5oz Carpano Bianco, .75oz homemade cucumber-infused vodka, .75oz Lemon Juice, .75oz simple syrup, 2 dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters, 3-4 basil leaves, club soda to fill. Muddle basil in a cocktail tin and all ingredients, except the club soda. Add ice to the tin, shake for a minimum of 10 seconds and double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Add club soda to top, and swirl one rotation with a mixing spoon. Garnish with a large basil leaf and cucumber slice.
Door County Cherry Juice Margarita
Door County Cherry Juice Margarita
Who: Fred and Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar and Grill ~ Fuzzy Sunstrom
Where: Sister Bay, WI
Where: Sister Bay, WI
Inspiration: Summer sunsets
Recipe: Golden Tequila (preferred type of tequila for margaritas as it is mellowed with a hint of caramel flavoring), Door County Cherry Juice, margarita mix, lime: Rim a 16 oz glass with salt (optional), fill the glass with ice, add 2 oz of golden tequila, fill the rest of the glass with a 50/50 mix of Door County cherry juice and margarita mix. Stir until perfectly blended. Garnish with a slice of lime.
Rosso Peach Smash
Who: Venturi ~ Troy Pippenger
Where: Gosehn, IN
Inspiration: Co-Owner, Justin Venturi, created a peach dessert that blew my mind. I created the drink by playing with the same flavors from the dessert in the form of a cocktail.
Recipe: 1.5 oz vodka, 1oz Grotta del Sole Lacryma Christi dei Vesuvio Rosso or similar red wine, 1 oz peach puree (we use Monin), 1 barspoon simple syrup, 1 lemon wedge (1/4 of a lemon), 2 sprigs mint. Muddle lemon, peach puree and leaves from one sprig of mint & simple syrup in cocktail shaker. Add wine & vodka. Shake well. Fine strain into rocks glass. Garnish with lemon slice & mint.
Inspiration: All the rage in France in the summertime is a drink called Rosé Piscine, which means pool of rosé. It’s simply rosé wine poured over ice. We have enhanced this drink.
Recipe: Plum syrup: 1 c sugar, 1 c water, bring to a boil and add: 1 lb unpitted plums. Simmer the plums in the simple syrup until they are thoroughly cooked down, about 20 to 30 minutes. strain through a fine mesh strainer to render the syrup. Refrigerate. Jumbo ice cubes: 1 c peeled and seeded cucumber cut in chunks, 1 c watermelon, seeded and without rind, cut into chunks, 2 tb freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 c plum syrup. Puree the above ingredients and pour into jumbo ice cube trays and freeze solid. Pour a good quality Rosé wine over one jumbo ice cube and enjoy.
Smoky Strega Smash
Who: Italian Village ~ Ryan Wichmann
Inspiration: Our inspiration for this cocktail was not only the Italian Immigrant origins of Italian Village founder, Alfredo Capitanini, but also the Anish Kapoor sculpture Cloud Gate, commonly known as "The Bean", in Chicago's beautiful Millennium Park just a few blocks away. Kapoor, himself an immigrant, has said that in his art, "The experience of opposites allows for the expression of wholeness" and that is what I have tried to achieve with this cocktail. At first thought, the sweet, fragrant and herbaceous qualities of Strega seem an unlikely match for the burly and smoky/peaty nature of Islay Scotch, but it is exactly this duality that allows the qualities of one to complement and provide balance to the other so as to create a more complex and harmonious union. The same can be said for "The Bean" on clear, cloudless days, when sky and highly-polished metal appear to lose their seams and meld together in a singular vision of uniquely Chicagoan beauty.
Recipe: 2 oz Strega, 1/2 oz Laphroaig 10 year Islay Single Malt Scotch, 2 orange wedges, club soda, crushed ice. Combine Strega, Scotch and one orange wedge in a shaker filled halfway with crushed ice (it is ideal to squeze the orange wedge into the shaker beforehand) and shake. Dump the contents of the shaker into a large glass (do not strain). Fill the remainder of the glass with crushed ice and top with club soda. Garnish with the other orange slice and serve with a straw.
Inspiration: This cocktail is sure to be a hit at this summer’s family BBQ.
Recipe: 8 oz. CAMUS VS Elegance Cognac, 4 oz. passion fruit liqueur, 4 oz. triple sec, 4 oz. sparkling water, 4 oz. sweetener, juice of 1 lemon, 1 c strawberries, 1 c ice. Add strawberries, lemon juice and sweetener into a blender and pulse slowly. Place mixture in a pitcher and add remaining liquid ingredients and ice. Pour into a margarita glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.
Who: Cielo at Four Seasons ~ Jorie Taylor (Bar Manager)
Where: St. Louis
Inspiration: While living in Atlanta a former employer of mine who was (and is) a great lover of a good cocktail would often ask for a cocktail of my choice at the bar. His wife, however, always chose a glass of red wine. Atlanta can get awfully hot, so on one particularly hot day she wanted to sit on the patio and my boss delighted in the rare occasion to share with her the cooling effects of a well mixed cocktail. Inspired by the heat, he asked if I would mix her a proper julep. I mixed one, but he took it for himself and asked me to go ahead and create her something -- in his words, "Like a julep, but sexy." I thought first of some of the original juleps, made with brandy or cognac in the 1800's before phylloxera caused barmen to switch to corn based beverages. Nectarines (plump and juicy in summer) bring a round, nectar-like quality to the booze while freeze dried strawberries add an acidic fruity layer. Campari and lemon add just enough bite to keep the cocktail balanced, and the saffron (my herb/spice component in place of mint) imparts an indescribable exotic floral background. Like a julep, just sexy. The cocktail is named for the bullfrogs which croaked along the river banks outside the restaurant."
Recipe: Mix1/2 oz Campari, 2 oz Nectarine, freeze-dried strawberry infused Cognac, 3/4 oz fresh lemon, 1/2 oz saffron syrup, orange wheel garnish.
Who: Brasabana ~ Mike Kiefer (Bar Manager)
Where: Lexington, KY
Inspiration: Growning up we always had a strawberry patch growing in our backyard. As a result I have always loved strawberries and they always remind me of my summers growing up in Lexington. As a bartender I consider martinis one of my specialties and love creating new, interesting ones. Here at Brasabana our specialty is mojitos. This drinking is a represention of the best parts of Brasabana and summer with a little personal flair.
Recipe: 2 oz Bacardi Dragonberry Rum, 1 oz strawberry and mint infused simple syrup (Muddle 4-6 strawberries, 2 oz mint leaves, and 8 oz granulated sugar, add 8 oz of boiling water and stir thouroughly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours then strain out muddled strawberries and mint.). Shake rum and simple syrup over ice then strain into a martini glass. Add a splash of club soda for a refreshing fizz. Rim the glass in raw sugar and added a stick of sugar cane for garnish
Who: Oliver Winery ~ Drew Kincuis
Where: Bloomington, IN
Inspiration: “Summertime, and the drinkin’s easy”
Recipe: 4oz lemonade. 4oz Oliver Moscato, 2oz strawberry simple syrup, splash of club soda, fill Mason jar with ice, place lid on jar, shake, garnish with lemon wedge.
Elizabeth J. Musgrave writes food and wine magazine columns ~ Destination Dining and White Linen & Corks, is a magazine and newspaper journalist and photographer covering travel, food, wine & spirits, luxury, hotels, spas, et al, as well as a restaurant and performing arts critic. Catch her as Fox 59 Morning News Show's Travel & Leisure expert. Find her also at GottaGo.us, BroadwayWorld.com and FoodDigital.com. Follow on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.