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Summer drinking is all about maximum refreshment and minimum effort. Julie Sheppard chooses some simple seasonal cocktail recipes to keep you cool when the temperature rises
It’s fair to say that us Brits are preoccupied with the weather – which is within reason given how unpredictable it can be. But one thing is for certain, as soon as the sun does shine, most of us head for the nearest outdoor space and look for something refreshing to sip on while we’re chilling out and soaking up the rays.
A cool beer, cider over ice or a chilled glass of rosé are good options, but to really do summer in style, the drink of choice has to be a refreshing cocktail. The key to summer cocktails is to keep things really simple – after all, you want to spend your time in the garden, drink in hand, not in the kitchen laboriously chopping, crushing, muddling and mixing.
That’s why drinks such as Pimm’s are popular: simply add ice, lemonade and some fruit and you have an easy cocktail. But it’s worth thinking outside the box in your search for refreshment as well. Port is traditionally a winter drink, but chilled white port mixed with tonic over lots of ice is a surprisingly refreshing tangy summer tipple that the Portuguese drink instead of a G&T. Try Cockburn’s Light Dry White Port (£7.49 for 50cl from Sainsbury’s).
As a general rule, summer cocktails should be light and refreshing, so use white spirits such as gin and vodka, or lighter ones like Tequila and white rum, rather than dark spirits. Lighter spirits are also easier to mix with fruit, which is another essential for summer cocktails.
Citrus fruits give any drink a clean, refreshing lift; while summer fruits have a natural acidity which balances their sweetness, making them a good choice for cocktails. Tropical fruits are perfect for injecting an exotic holiday feeling into your drink, but don’t ignore more English flavours such as gooseberry.
Floral and aromatic ingredients like mint and elderflower also help to capture an English garden feel that’s perfect for summer drinking; while mixers such as ginger beer are classic for evoking memories of childhood summers.
The following recipes make use of some of these ingredients to really capture the flavour of summer – but importantly they’re all easy to make, requiring only a few ingredients and using basic equipment. Some you can simply build in a cocktail glass and stir to mix – for these cocktails multiply the ingredients by four to make enough for a pitcher: even easier! So when the sun shines, get mixing, take a long sip… and relax!
40ml Whitley Neill gin
50ml Pressed English apple juice
Garnish: Lemon and lime wedges
Method: Squeeze one wedge of lemon and one wedge of lime into a sling glass. Add plenty of ice, the gin and apple juice. Top up with lemonade.
40ml Elements 8 Platinum rum
15ml Limoncello liqueur
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Glass: Champagne coupe
Garnish: Half a fresh strawberry
Method: Muddle the strawberries, add all of the other ingredients except the Champagne, and shake over ice. Double strain into a Champagne coupe. Top with Champagne. Garnish with half a fresh strawberry.
25ml Absolut Citron vodka
25ml St-Germain elderflower liqueur
12.5ml lemon juice
Soda water or tonic
Garnish: Lemon twist
Method: Shake the vodka, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with soda water or tonic and stir well. Garnish with a lemon twist.
50ml Jose Cuervo Platino Tequila
25ml grapefruit juice
15ml lime juice
10ml sugar syrup
Garnish: Sea salt rim and lime wedge
Method: Dip the rim of the glass in water, then salt to give a thick salt rim. Build the drink in a glass over ice and top up with soda water. Stir to mix, then garnish with a wedge of lime.
50ml Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength gin
10ml elderflower cordial
Dash of Angostura bitters
Fever-Tree ginger beer
Garnish: 4 lime wedges
Method: Squeeze the lime wedges into an ice-filled glass. Build the drink and top with ginger beer.
75ml San Pellegrino Limonata
Garnish: Lemon wedge
Method: Build ingredients in chilled rocks glass over cubed ice. Garnish with a small lemon wedge.
50ml Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion vodka
Tonic or bitter lemon
Garnish: Lime wedge
Method: Fill the glass with ice, then add the Finlandia Grapefruit. Top with tonic or bitter lemon, then squeeze and drop a fresh wedge of lime.
50ml Sagatiba Pura cachaça
25ml passion fruit purée
12.5ml Limoncello liqueur
12.5ml sugar syrup
Juice of half a fresh lemon
Garnish: Slice of passion fruit
Method: Put all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of passion fruit.
50ml Santa Teresa Gran Reserva rum
Garnish: Lime wedges
Method: Fill the glass with ice cubes then add the Santa Teresa Gran Reserva. Top with cranberry juice. Load with freshly cut lime wedges.
Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2009