On The Rocks: Summer Cocktails

Oh, the cocktail. What a glorious creation. Without that dash of salt and swirl of gin, Summer nights wouldn’t possibly be as delightful. Glistening sugar crystals, tangy citrus, the swill of mint on ice… I could wax poetic for hours about how the perfect Summer cocktail transforms an ordinary evening into, well, a mid-Summer’s night dream. And, luckily for you, you don’t have to trek to your closest bar and fork over fifteen bucks for a sip– because I’ve got all the best recipes for you to try it out on your own. Without further adieu: my three favorite Summer cocktails, each with it’s own twist on a classic. Whether it be sweet, tangy, or spicy, it will be sure to take your evening to next level. Cheers!

Gin Punch

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Fruity and light, this mix of gin, citrus, and berries is the perfect accessory for any Summer gathering– whether it be a Ragin’ Prohibition Party or a casual Sunday night BBQ.
Ingredients:
Decorative ice block
6 navel oranges, cut into quarter-wheels
6 lemons, cut into half-wheels
3 limes, cut into wheels
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 bunch of mint leaves
1 (750 ml) bottle gin
1 3/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup simple syrup (could be less if you don’t want it as sweet)
1 cup crème de framboise
3 cups water
1 (750 ml) bottle brut champagne

Directions:
Combine all the fruits in a large punch bowl. Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, crème de framboise, and water. Refrigerate for at least 4 to 5 hours. Just before serving, add the champagne and the decorative ice block.

(Makes punch for 6)

French 75

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This drink has such a kick, that it’s been said to feel like getting hit with a 75-ML M1897 (a French field artillery gun)! A favorite of Hemingway, and his Lost Generation crew, the French 75 can be mixed up with a variety of alcohols, but I recommend starting with gin. There is something holy about the way the harshness of the dry gin grates up against the fizzy Brut champagne. Holy, I tell you!
Ingredients:
2 ounces gin — London dry gin
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 lemon twist
5 ounces (or so) Brut champagne
Champagne glass

Directions:
Place champagne flutes in the freezer while prepping your other ingredients. In a cocktail shaker combine gin, sugar and lemon juice. Shake until the shaker is frosty. Remove glasses from freezer. Rim with lemon wedge and sugar. Strain the mixture into the chilled champagne flutes. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist

(Makes 1 French 75)

Spicy Grapefruit Margarita

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Grapefruit and gin? Awesome. Grapefruit and vodka? Classic. Grapefruit and tequila? Immediately. And make it spicy.
Ingredients:
For the cayenne simple syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can vary depending on desired spice level)

For the drinks:
2 grapefruits, juiced (approx. 4 ounces)
4 oz silver tequila, divided
2 oz cayenne simple syrup, divided (or to taste)
8 oz grapefruit juice, divided
ice
lime wedge
salt or spice (salt with cayenne pepper) rub to rim glasses

Directions:
Prepare the simple syrup well in advance so it has time to cool. Combine the sugar, water and cayenne pepper in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar melts. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Place glassware, preferably mason jars, in the freezer.

Later, remove chilled glassware and rim with lime wedge and salt or salt spice mixture. Add a few ice cubes to each glass. For each add 2 oz tequila, 1 oz simple syrup (to taste), 4 oz grapefruit juice. Stir well, minding the salt rim, and serve immediately.

(Makes 2 spicy grapefruit margaritas)

Products You Might Enjoy:

Set of 2 Mason Jars ($8 ) from World Market, with a 4% donation.

Punch Bowl ($36 ) from William Sonoma, with a 3.5% donation.

Riedel Set of 2 Champagne Flutes ($40) from Macy’s, with a 1.5% donation.

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