Tips for mak­ing stand­out cock­tails with the sea­son’s bounty


Sum­mer Sip­pers

Dur­ing the sum­mer months when restau­rants and bars roll out sea­sonal menus, fresh fruits al­most al­ways punc­tu­ate the of­fer­ings. They are re­fresh­ing in cock­tails, but not all fruits are suited for all spir­its and can some­times be too much.

Af­ter con­sult­ing a num­ber of Southwest Florida bar­tenders, most were in agree­ment that while you can have fun with a myr­iad of sea­sonal de­lights, berries are best for cock­tails, good for float­ing, blend­ing and mud­dling.

Mud­dling is a tech­nique where gen­tle press­ing is used to re­lease oils, juices and aro­mat­ics from fruits and herbs be­fore mix­ing into a cock­tail. Take

straw­ber­ries, for ex­am­ple, one of the most pop­u­lar sum­mer fruits. Lightly press them in a bar glass with a lit­tle sim­ple syrup and add to a tra­di­tional le­mon drop mar­tini for a sum­mer twist.

Beefeater makes a straw­berry gin that bar­tender Dani Capizzi has fun with at The Bevy in Naples. With notes of ju­niper, coriander and le­mon peel, the gin re­minds me of straw­berry li­corice. Capizzi adds diced straw­ber­ries and lemon­ade to the gin and then a splash of soda for a light and re­fresh­ing pink bev­er­age.

The Bevy’s pop­u­lar Ital­ian 75 starts with blue­ber­ries in a Cham­pagne flute. In a shaker mix EG In­spi­ra­tion Rose­mary and Laven­der Vodka, le­mon

juice and sim­ple syrup, then strain into a tall glass. Leave room to top with pros­ecco and add a sprig of rose­mary. Capizzi uses a small kitchen torch to singe the ends of the rose­mary, re­leas­ing its oils and aroma.

Wa­ter­melon is the quin­tes­sen­tial sum­mer fruit, but its tex­ture can be chal­leng­ing. No mat­ter how you puree it, it still has some pulp. If pulp is un­ap­peal­ing, strain the juice or freeze the puree in cubed trays for a frozen cock­tail. Wa­ter­melon and vodka pair well, with a splash of fresh citrus or Coin­treau, and fresh mint for a gar­nish.

Cu­cum­ber, a sum­mer veg­etable, is an­other re­fresh­ing ad­di­tion to cock­tails and par­tic­u­larly suited for mud­dling with gins such as Hen­drick’s.

The Bevy’s Cu­cum­ber Smash uses Ke­tel One Botan­i­cal Cu­cum­ber and Mint Vodka pressed with a few slices of the fresh veg­etable in a bar glass. Add about a half-ounce of el­der­flower liqueur, a splash of sim­ple syrup and squeeze in half of a fresh lime. Shake over ice, strain into a bar glass and gar­nish with cu­cum­ber.

While Capizzi says a good rule of thumb for cock­tails is 1½ to 2 ounces of liquor, the key to in­cor­po­rat­ing in­gre­di­ents such as sim­ple syrup and fresh squeezed citrus to your sum­mer sip­pers is tast­ing as you go. No two lemons are alike. One might be loaded with juice, an­other su­per tart. Go light, you can al­ways add more. Recipe amounts are just guides. Re­mem­ber sweet bal­ances acid­ity and vice versa.

Canned cock­tails are su­per con­ve­nient for sum­mer and can be livened up with fruit. Gin and tonic is a classic re­fresher, but it’s cum­ber­some to carry two bot­tles when you are boat­ing, beach­ing and try­ing to get the right pro­por­tions. Green­hook Gin­smiths Gin & Tonic takes the guess­work out. The gin is aro­matic, the tonic fresh, and it’s just the right serv­ing size, straight from the can or poured over ice with a citrus wedge. It’s fun.

Also in alu­minum is Joe to Go canned wines from Ore­gon. The pinot gris, which was re­leased last year on a lim­ited ba­sis, is de­light­fully re­fresh­ing with lots of stone fruit and citrus. It went over so well that rosé and pinot noir have been added to the lineup, along with dis­tri­bu­tion in Florida. It’s so much eas­ier than car­ry­ing around a heavy bot­tle of wine. The rosé goes down easy, and while I pre­fer it on its own, it makes great friends with Bloomers Frosé and More mix.

Frosé is a trendy sum­mer bev­er­age based on freez­ing rosé wine. There are dozens of recipes, but Bloomers has a mix that is ve­gan, kosher and even comes in a lo-cal ver­sion. It tastes se­ri­ously good and keeps you bikini ready. The bot­tle of­fers a num­ber of recipes in­clud­ing the use of red wine for san­gria, sparkling wine in­stead of rosé, and the ad­di­tion of vodka, which is what my guests pre­ferred. Per­fect for the pool.

If you pre­fer to drink your veg­eta­bles this sum­mer, pick up Sis­ter’s Sauce Bloody Mary Mix. It’s a solid mix that has all of the classic Bloody Mary fla­vors, in­gre­di­ents and a good amount of spice. Re­mem­ber that sum­mer cu­cum­ber? Add a stick to gar­nish along­side the tra­di­tional cel­ery, or a splash of cu­cum­ber vodka for some extra re­fresh­ment.

Take ad­van­tage of the bounty of sum­mer fruits. If you end up with more peaches, wa­ter­melon or berries than you can use, freeze them in chunks and use them in cock­tails year round. Cheers!

The key to in­cor­po­rat­ing in­gre­di­ents such as sim­ple syrup and fresh squeezed citrus to your sum­mer sip­pers is tast­ing as you go.

Clock­wise from top left: Dani Capizzi cre­ates an Ital­ian 75, a spe­cialty at The Bevy in Naples; wa­ter­melon paired with vodka makes a re­fresh­ing sum­mer drink; frozen rosé is all the rage; and canned gin and tonic is a con­ve­nient way to go.

The Bevy's sig­na­ture Ital­ian 75 cock­tail; be­low: canned wine has come a long way.

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