Whew. This summer heated up REAL fast, y’all. It’s true, summers in Houston are often brutal, but typically we don’t really start complaining until late July. And then August through September is sheer torture. My daily philosophy: if you don’t find a parking spot within the first two rows at your destination, go home. All that being said, we’ve been experiencing some hotter than average temps and some stickier than average days recently, so I thought “What’s a southern girl to do in such a situation?” Get the gals together for an impromptu summer soiree, of course! And what would a summer party be without some refreshing summer cocktails?
Since a party must have a theme, I decided on “Sultry & Sweet Summer Sips” for this particular shindig. The resurgence of the artfully crafted cocktail put me in the mood to create some interesting drinks. Sadly, I’m not bartender. So, I turned to one of my favorite people, Eric Schmidt, who recently tended at one of the nations’ premiere cocktail spots, to help me craft a menu that would be both easy to replicate yet impressive for guests. (Bonus: each of these drinks can also be prepared as a “mocktail.”)
What I love about the drinks we put together, besides the fact that they are delicious, is that they are so versatile. Add soda water (or flat water) in place of booze and you have an instant upgrade to plain, old water. And, although I’ve chosen a specific liquor for each drink, we’re providing suggestions in case you fancy something else; again, versatility being key. These cocktails can be prepared with ingredients that most people have in their fridge or pantry on a regular basis (and if you don’t have them on hand, I guarantee your local grocery or farmers market does) and though they may look and taste fancy, I promise you, they’re easier to make than people will realize!
Sweet & Sultry Summer Cocktail Recipes
I hope you and your guests enjoy these summer sips (let’s be real, I’d enjoy these ANY times of year!) and please share any ways you’ve modified them!
- 6-7 blackberries
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 oz Gin* (or your spirit of choice)
- 3 oz Soda Water
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 0.5 lime juice
- Crushed ice
- Muddle mint leaves and blackberries at the bottom of a pint glass
- Add Gin or spirit of choice
- “Roll” by pouring the mixture from one pint glass to another to fully mix the flavors
- Pour into a cocktail glass and fill with soda water, add crushed ice
- Squeeze in a splash of fresh lime juice
- Garnish with mint leaf, whole berries and lime wedge
- 5-6 1/4 in sliced cucumber
- 2 oz Gin (vodka is a good substitution here)
- 3 oz soda water
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- Herbs of choice (basil works here as well as rosemary)
- Crushed ice
- Muddle cucumber at the bottom of a pint glass. If adding herbs, go ahead and muddle that as well UNLESS it’s rosemary, which should not be muddle and used as a full sprig instead.
- Add Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and crushed ice. Shake (if you have a shaker) or stir vigorously.
- Pour into a fresh cocktail glass over crushed ice, add soda water and garnish with fresh herbs.
- 3-4 strawberries
- 1 oz strawberry simple syrup*
- 2 oz Gin
- 3 oz club soda
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 5-6 basil leaves
- Crushed ice
- Muddle basil leaves and strawberries in pint glass
- Add gin, strawberry simple syrup, lemon juice and crushed ice
- Shake or stir vigorously
- Pour into cocktail glass over fresh ice, top with club soda, and garnish with fresh basil and a couple sliced strawberries
- Gin brands I am loving right now are Brokers ($22/750 ml) and Beefeater ($23/750ml). However, I know not everyone is a gin lover and that’s why these cocktails were created with versatility in mind. You can really use anything, Vodka always being a great substitute!
- Super-easy Simple Syrup: One part Sugar to One part water, bring mixture to a boil, wait until totally clear, let cool and voila! Simple syrup can be made a little more interesting by just adding a flavor to the boiling process. So, throw in some vanilla or lavender…yum! Also, I’ve used coconut sugar instead of cane sugar to give my simple syrup a slightly nutty flavor. Warning: this will make the simple syrup slightly brown so make sure you’re okay with that when deciding to use!
- Strawberry Simple Syrup: Macerate strawberries by combining 1 cup sugar with 10-12 strawberries in a bowl and let refrigerate for 2+ days. Transfer strawberry mixture to boiling pot with equal parts water and follow same instructions as above. (You can also use this mixture over pancakes or waffles…delish!)