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The careless art of the wonderful summer cocktail

Perfecting the careless art of a summer cocktail

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo)
Summer cocktails, clockwise from top, Trashy Red Wine Sangria, Vodka Watermelon Slushie, Pisco Sour and Gin and Bitter Lemon are shown.

The art of the summer cocktail is something I take most seriously.

Because several years ago, I realized what surely is obvious to most people. ... But I can be a bit slow. Summer is better with a signature cocktail. Not a fancy dinner cocktail. Not a party cocktail. And certainly nothing that anyone who goes by the title “mixologist” ever would deign to make.

I’m talking about an everyday cocktail, something that can be thrown together after work or a day of swimming, then casually sipped – or even slurped – while standing at the grill or sitting by the pool or dock.

A good summer cocktail must be simple to assemble, and preferably from memory. It must be sweet and refreshing, but not cloying. It should have a crispness. It should welcome ice and not suffer noticeably as the ice melts. And it must be versatile enough to go with whatever is on the dinner menu.

Each summer, I seem to discover a new cocktail, which then becomes my summer cocktail for the remainder of the season. A few years back, it was my trashy sangria, which I could slosh together in under a minute. The summer after that it was my vodka watermelon chiller. Is there anything more refreshing than watermelon in August? And last year I discovered the magic that is gin and bitter lemon. It’s heaven in the end-of-day sun. This year, it will be the pisco sour. Pisco is a South American brandy that has a clean, mildly sweet flavor. Think frozen margarita, but so much better.

I also should add proper stemware is essential for enjoying a summer cocktail. In my house that usually means either canning jars or recycled jam jars.

Pisco Sour

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

2 1/2 ounces pisco

1 1/2 ounces lime juice

1 1/2 ounces simple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoons egg white

1/2 cup ice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth and frothy. Pour into a large, heavy glass and serve immediately.

Gin And Bitter Lemon

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

1 to 2 slices lemon

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 ounces gin

Ice

Bitter lemon tonic

Fresh mint, to garnish

In a medium, heavy glass, combine the lemon slices and sugar. Gently muddle, then add the gin and enough ice to mostly fill the glass. Top with bitter lemon tonic, then stir and garnish with fresh mint.

Trashy Red Wine Sangria

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

1 to 2 slices orange

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar

4 ounces red wine

Ice

Seltzer water (optional)

In a large, heavy glass, combine the orange slices, lime juice and sugar. Gently muddle, then add the wine and enough ice to mostly fill the glass. Stir. If desired, top with a splash of seltzer for bubbles.

Vodka Watermelon Slushie

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

1 1/2 cups watermelon chunks

1/2 cup ice

1 1/2 ounces vodka

1 ounce lemon juice

1 ounce honey or simple syrup

Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth and frothy. Pour into a large, heavy glass and serve immediately.

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