When it comes to summer, for me, it doesn’t get much better than a long day at the beach — some waves, some beers, some babes, sun, sand. You all know that and I’m sure do it very well. That’s cake. The icing on the cake is then, instead of everyone going home come sunset, everyone going straight over to your pad still hot and salty for some food and drink. But, as I hope we’re learning, there are more summertime drink options than just beer. Not everyone wants beer. Many do. But let’s be more creative.
So, cocktails. But, like the rest of the crew, I’m tired and burnt after that long day shredding the beach. That’s why I don’t want to spend my evening hunched over a bar, making drink after drink for my friends. I like cocktails and I like my friends more, it’s just that there’s a better way to provide and still have a good ol’ time. In this scenario, I’m a fan of cocktails I don’t actually have to make on the spot. Ideal is a set-up where I can put out bunch of fixings and let everyone go at it — a jug of pre-made booze, a bucket of ice, some glasses, and maybe a garnish if you’re fancy. Done.
Now, I’m not talking about jungle juice (barf) or sangria (different barf). I’m talking some refined, delicious stuff that’s clean, strong, easy to make, and perfect for the moment. Here are three go-to jams for the summertime madness.
1. Spicy Watermelon Tequila
You know that derelict known as the handle of Popov in a whole watermelon? Here’s its classier Mexican cousin, kicked up with some spicy chiles.
1 watermelon (seedless will be better here)
2 jalapeños, chopped
1 cup sugar with 1 cup water
Bottle of tequila (750 ml)
5 cups grapefruit juice
2 cups fresh lime juice
Make some simple syrup by mixing the sugar with 1 cup of water and simmering until dissolved.
Cut watermelon in half, and remove the red parts, placing them in a large pitcher. Using a potato masher, huge spoon, or muddler, crush watermelon. Stir in lime juice, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and tequila. Stir in 2 cups ice. Serve with a bucket of ice, wedges of watermelon, and some whole jalapeños for those who like it hot.
Extra credit: Serve with rosemary sprig.
Extra extra credit: Add a float of mescal on top of each glass for a smoky hit.
Alternate: sub out tequila for vodka and lemons for limes.
2. Berry Smash
Keeping a few boxes of frozen fruit in your icebox is a good call for morning smoothies. Or, perhaps, emergency evening cocktails for a crowd, like this.
Box of frozen strawberries (blueberries or raspberries would be good too)
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup lime juice
1 bottle vodka (750 ml)
Add frozen berries and sugar to a pitcher and using a potato masher, huge spoon, or muddler, smash it all up. Add in citrus juice and vodka, serve with ice and some wheels of limes to garnish.
Extra credit: Muddle in a handful of basil when you smash your berries
Extra extra credit: Crushed ice. Always crushed ice.
Alternate: Sub out vodka for tequila or rum, lemon for lime, or try different herbs for totally different flavors.
3. Grilled Pineapple Daiquiris
It’s summer and you’re grilling already, so why not grill the cocktail ingredients too? That’s neat. Grilling the pineapple adds that smoky flavor and makes the fruit even sweeter.
1 pineapple, cut into wedges
6 oz (3/4 cup) simple syrup
1 bottle white rum (750 ml)
12 oz (1.5 cups) fresh lime juice
Pour some sugar on a small plate, then dip pineapple slices in sugar. Add pineapples to grill and cook until sugar caramelizes and you get some grill marks, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile make some simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water and simmering until dissolved. Tip: make this ahead of time so you have less things to do when your friends come over.
Place about a quarter of the pineapple in a pitcher and muddle. Add rum, lime juice, simple syrup and a bunch of ice; stir until pitcher is frosty. Serve right away with more ice and all the extra grilled pineapple as garnishes.
Extra credit: Some basil flowers to garnish
Extra extra credit: Reserve a few grilled pineapples and place on vanilla ice cream. Instant gourmet dessert!
Alternate: Try grilling orange wedges instead of pineapple.—Paul Brewer
For more cocktails/drinking advice check out more from What Youth director of wine and spirits Paul Brewer here: What Youth Drinks.