Sunshine Cocktails

Conjure up that holiday spirit with a classic summer cocktail or two. Alice Lascelles suggests some recipes to take you away from it all


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It’s all very well giving your guests ceremonially stirred martinis, but in truth, if you really want to get the party started it’s hard to beat the colour, character and, occasionally, cheese of some of the time-honoured summer classics. No longer just for drinking under cover of darkness, cocktails such as the piña colada have lately been making something of a comeback in the bar world, often tarted up with super-luxe spirits and stylish glassware, but ultimately a spirit of irreverence should prevail. So roll out the pineapples, break out the cocktail umbrellas and enjoy some good-time drinks this summer…

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Sea Breeze
A doddle for even the most cack-handed mixologist, this 1990s’ classic is pretty, refreshing and a great one to knock up by the jugful. Try substituting Ketel One Citroen for a lemon-y twist, opt for pink grapefruit juice or sweeten with a dash of lime cordial, grenadine or crème de mûre. It will stand or fall on the quality of the juice you use.

75ml cranberry juice
50ml Finlandia vodka
35ml freshly squeezed
grapefruit juice
a good squeeze of lime

Method: Fill a Collins/highball glass with ice, add all the ingredients and stir well. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Settle down with a glass of this Spanish sundowner and get all nostalgic about summer holidays past. This is another recipe that is easy to adapt to your own taste, and one that is also good with food. The measures below are for a single serve, but sangria is really at its best when enjoyed by the jugful with friends.

75ml Shiraz red wine
25ml freshly squeezed orange juice
25ml soda water
12.5ml VSOP Cognac
12.5ml Grand Marnier
6.5ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
6.5ml sugar syrup

Method: Mix everything up with plenty of ice and garnish with orange or lemon slices and a grating of nutmeg.

Pisco Sour
The Peruvians and Chileans still wrangle over who created the pisco sour, but there is no debate about the charms of this lip-smacking South American classic, which is made with the grape spirit pisco. Fruity, grassy and highly aromatic, it produces a sour with plenty of punch.

50ml ABA pisco
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice
25ml sugar syrup
½ fresh egg white

Method: This recipe can either be served blended with a 12oz scoop of crushed ice (don’t forget the straws) or shaken with ice and served neat in a rocks glass. Either way, top with three drops of Angostura bitters.

Spritz al Bitter
Summer drinks aren’t all cheesy – this dry Italian aperitif is as sophisticated as they come. Enlivened with Campari’s distinctive sweet/bitter orange notes, it’s a great palate sharpener, as well as being easy to lengthen as required if you don’t want too big a hit of alcohol before lunchtime…

35ml Campari
35ml Sauvignon Blanc white wine
soda water

Method: Gently stir the first two ingredients in an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a twist of orange zest.

Pina Colada
Silky, rich and indulgent, the piña colada must surely be the carnival queen of summer drinks, whether sipped from a curvaceous hurricane glass or a super-camp hollowed out pineapple. Garnish with some neon straws, a cocktail umbrella or two and plenty of sunshine.

100ml pressed pineapple juice
50ml Santa Teresa
Gran Reserva rum
25ml cream of coconut
25ml double cream
pinch of salt

Method: Blend all ingredients with a 12oz scoop of crushed ice and serve in a hurricane glass (or hollowed out pineapple) with straws and the most flamboyant garnish you can find.

Tequila Sunrise
The Tequila sunrise has been the training wheels for many a student mixologist, being a cinch to make and entertaining to look at into the bargain. It is vastly improved by juice of the freshly squeezed variety, and a good-quality grenadine such as Funkin or Monin.

75ml freshly squeezed orange juice
50ml Don Julio Reposado Tequila
18.75ml grenadine

Method: Shake the orange juice and Tequila with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Then carefully pour in the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom of the glass and create ‘sunrise’. Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry.

Mai Tai
Created by Trader Vic, this wonderful rum cocktail often gets, quite wrongly, written off as a cheesy drink. In fact it’s an edifying riot of flavour and aroma, as well as being an excellent way of showcasing a good rum. Its name comes from the Tahitian expression ‘Mai Tai Roa Ae’, or ‘out of this world’.

50ml Appleton Estate VX rum
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice
12.5ml orange curaçao liqueur
6.25ml orgeat syrup
6.25ml sugar syrup*
(*dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of hot water and leave to cool before use)

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish to taste, but a lime wedge and mint sprig are a must.

Singapore Sling
Created in the early 1900s at Raffles Hotel, Singapore, the Singapore sling is delightfully fruity, sweet and sour. It’s also somewhat fiddly to make, which is probably why, sadly, Raffles now bangs them out pre-mixed. But if you take the time to make it properly, this little ray of cocktail sunshine will reward the effort.

50ml Tanqueray No.Ten gin
35ml pressed pineapple juice
12.5ml cherry brandy
12.5ml freshly squeezed lime juice
6.5ml Benedictine DOM liqueur
6.5ml Cointreau
6.5ml grenadine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
soda water

Method: Shake all ingredients except the soda with ice and strain into an ice-filled sling glass. Top with soda, stir gently, add straws, orange slice and a cherry.

The margarita is a bit like a bowl of cornflakes – you go ages without having one and then one day you rediscover it in all its delicious simplicity, and you wonder how you ever lived without it. Blanco and reposado Tequilas tend to work best in this recipe. Also try substituting the Cointreau with agave syrup or the new Giffard Agave Sec.

50ml Don Julio Reposado Tequila
25ml Cointreau
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a margarita or cocktail glass. Alternatively, serve over cubed ice in a rocks glass. For a salt rim, run a lime wedge round half the rim and dip it in a saucer of sea salt.

Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Summer 2010