Summertime cocktail choices for tradition and class
May 26, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 5:56 pm)
By Rich Mauro
Summer is the ideal time of year for fans of cocktails. Warm weather, pride parties and sunshine just call out for the refreshing respite of a cool, mixed drink. Whether you prefer spirits or wine, fruity or minty, sweet or sour (or both), up, on the rocks, shaken, or stirred, the thought conjures images of patio sipping.
And that’s only the beginning. There are myriad choices of spirits. Tequila drinks like the Margarita and Sunrise are perennial favorites. Vodka does a star turn in the classics, screwdriver and Salty Dog. The rum-based mojito, daiquiri and piña colada each are refreshing choices. And don’t forget brown liquor. Whiskey serves as the foundation for the Manhattan, Mint Julep, sour and Old-Fashioned, though brandy can also be an appealing substitute. Finally, Gin, of course, is the original base for the Tom Collins and Martini (and its many variations), which arguably is most popular cocktail of all. What other mixed drink has whole bars dedicated to it?
But these are just some of the more traditional cocktails. There are many recipe variations involving the addition of liqueurs, fresh fruit or fruit juice, fresh mint (and other herbs), and sometimes substituting spirits for the original.
Being mostly a wine guy myself, I often opt for a grape-based cocktail. Sangria, certainly the traditional red wine recipe, is probably the first thought but I suggest trying a white wine for an exceptionally refreshing alternative. And you can’t go wrong with sparkling wine. Bubbles are intrinsically stimulating. They enliven cassis in one of my favorite drinks, the Kir Royale and of course OJ to make a Mimosa. Or combine Presecco and peach puree for a classic Bellini. Or add Spanish Cava to spice up that Sangria.
As restaurants and bars (and their customers) have become more and more interested in their cocktails in recent years, bar tenders are now mixologists and some mixologists have become almost as much celebrities as top chefs. At the same time, the mixed drinks have become more complex and certainly more difficult to prepare at home.
Even the simpler, traditional recipes take extra time and money. So, naturally, a market has developed for ready-to-drink cocktails. I recently sampled the product “Twisted Shotz” and was quite impressed. These are bartender-quality mixed drinks with real spirits, real convenience and real taste. They basically mix two flavors together and are ideal for parties.
TRY THE PARTY PACK, which includes 15 individual Shotz – three each of the five best-selling flavors. The pack comes with the following flavors:
>> Sex on the Beach: banana and pear liqueur & cream liqueur
>> Rattlesnake: Mexican Tequila & lime liqueur
>> Porn Star: Blue Curacao & Raspberry Schnapps
>> Strawberry Sundae: strawberry liqueur & vanilla cream liqueur
>> Buttery Nipple: butterscotch liqueur & vanilla cream liqueur
The Party Pack is an affordable (just $20 for the pack), hassle-free way to get a party started (or finished for that matter). The alcohol and flavors of each shot are separated into two sides of reusable, split shot glasses. To enjoy, find the tab; peel back the lid; hold with divider facing vertically (so both flavors can be tasted simultaneously; and gulp all at once. The two flavors mix in the mouth. Using this approach, you can avoid the time and cost to purchase multiple bottles of spirits and mixing all the ingredients.
Whichever way you enjoy your cocktails this summer (or more likely all of the above ways) don’t be afraid to experiment. Revel in the diversity of the cocktail world this pride season.