Enjoy the last few fleeting weeks of summer with one of these minimal prep, maximum flavor libations.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
So this week the DC area experienced an earthquake…and now we are gearing up for Hurricane Irene this weekend. It’s definitely time for a cocktail. Now while I love to drink (and mix) craft cocktails with bitters, homemade syrups and obscure ingredients, I can also appreciate simplicity in the glass. I asked my friends to share some of their favorite go-to, easy breezy cocktails that are light on the ingredients and preparation time. What’s more, they are built in the glass, so no cocktail shaker required.
Do these creations rock the cocktail world? Maybe not. But drinks don’t always need to—warm weather sips are often simply about refreshment and flavor, especially in the lazy days of summer. If any of these recipes seem a bit on the sweet side compared to what you usually drink, remember that they are all served over ice and will dilute a bit in the hot weather. Before the storm comes barreling through this weekend, or while you are watching the news recap that 5.8-er for the umpeenth time, mix up one of these crowd-pleasing, easy to prep faves:
My friend from high school Tasha Schlake Festel and her husband mix up bottomless batches of this oh so sipp-able beverage for their families during their yearly vacations to the Outer Banks (luckily they were already there and back this year…). The peach lends a southern flair, lime adds zestiness, and of course rum is required in any beachy drink. Tasha gets the cider from Morris Farmland–you can order it online, or look for peach cider at your local farmer’s market. “Nothing says summer to me like this drink does,” says Tasha. “It makes me long for the sandy toes and sun-kissed cheeks. It’s vacation in a glass!”
Fill a rocks glass or tumbler with ice. Add as much rum as you’d like, fill the rest with peach cider and then add a lime wedge.
Schmity’s White Summer Sangria
Managing Partner/ Director of Public Relations at Schmitz and Robbins Media Group Kyle Schmitz has been making this Sangria for friends and family all summer long, and she says it’s been an absolute hit. “It’s easy to make, uses minimal and easy-to-find ingredients, is budget-friendly, refreshing and has a gorgeous presentation perfect for summer entertaining.” Plus, the ginger ale ice cubes actually add to the flavor of the punch instead of watering it down. What more could you ask for in a summer drink?
1 lb. package of fresh strawberries
1 lb. package of fresh whole blueberries
1 lb. package of fresh ripe nectarines
2-liter bottle of Ginger Ale
1 bunch of fresh mint
750 ml bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling
Fill ice cube trays using Ginger Ale, place in freezer. Cut fresh fruit into bit sized pieces, place all fruit into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sugar, and toss until sugar is incorporated into the diced fruit. Pluck about 10 mint leaves, roll and julienne mint, set aside. Using chilled Ginger Ale and wine, fill a glass pitcher halfway with wine, then another quarter with ginger ale, and then top with the fruit, mint and ginger ale ice cubes.Let the mixed sangria sit for an hour or two to allow the fruit to absorb the liquids. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, and serve in your favorite wine glasses.
Kelly’s Watermelon Lime Cooler
I just created this drink to serve for a weekly Thursday afternoon get-together with friends (and also because I wanted something that would use the sample bottle of Malibu Island Melon Rum that’s been setting on my bar…). Normally I would puree and strain fresh watermelon to get the juice, but Dole Natural Sensation Watermelon punch is a decent alternative (and the point of this article is to keep things simple, right?) You can build it in the glass, or mix it in batches. And feel free to replace the Prosecco with flavored seltzer water for a lighter bevy.
1.5-2 oz. Malibu Island Melon rum (or the rum or flavored rum of your choice)
Dole Natural Sensation Watermelon punch
Lime wedge, for garnish
Fill a chilled Collins glass with ice. Add rum, top with juice and Prosecco, to taste. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime wedge.
Sweet Tea Vodka and Lemonade
Like a back porch childhood favorite with a barely detectable but serious kick (trust me, sweet tea vodka stuff is stronger than it tastes…), this thirst-quencher is deceptively easy. Cortney Ratliff prefers Firefly Sweet Tea vodka, but she has also used other brands. “I get organic lemonade with as little sugar as I can find, usually the Whole Foods brands or the Simply brand. If I think about it I will pick some mint to mull up or just a lemon wedge for garnish.”
1 part Sweet Tea Vodka
1 part lemonade
Mint or lemon wedge, for garnish
Add ice to a chilled Collins class. Add vodka and lemonade, and stir to mix. Garnish with a mint sprig or lemon wedge, if desired.
Grape on Grape
Jennifer Zangrilli, Director of Operations at Dante’s Restaurants in State College, PA, keeps things simple in the summer with vodka and white grape juice. She’s a purist and eschews the flavored varieties, but does sugar the rim of the glass. An easy, perfect poolside creation.
2 oz. Ciroc vodka
White grape juice
Chill a rocks glass or tumbler. Wet the outside of the rim with water or a lemon wedge, and then dip in sugar to coat. Add ice and vodka, and top with white grape juice. Stir to combine.
Maybe you are totally short on ingredients. Or you over-imbibed the night before but still want to enjoy a cocktail. My friend and neighbor Kristen Schopp turns to this light, effervescent go-anywhere wine spritzer. You can use flavored seltzer water for a bit more taste, if you like. Or not.
Chilled club soda
Fill a wine glass halfway with Vino Verde. Add club soda, and ice if you wish. No garnish needed, but feel free to add lemon, lime or fresh berries.