Thursday favorites: Summertime cocktails

Thursday Favorites is a group-written list—like a mix tape of things where everyone adds an entry. Okay, I’ll start. When you’re sitting on the patio pretending you don’t have to work the next day and the night is warm and long and your music is loud and the junebugs are buzzin’ and your pals are lounging around you with lazy smiles, what to drink? In the winter it would almost always be red wine, right? But summer calls for something more festive. Today’s Thursday Favorites is a list of summertime cocktail recipes for fizzing up the evenings.

Personally, I like the light and versatile Pimm’s Cup. Though it’s traditionally served at Wimbledon, I’m here to say that it’s not just for snobs anymore. The Pimm’s ingredients are a guarded secret (so that part of it is still sort of elitist, I guess), but I can tell you that Pimm’s #1 is gin-based, brown and sweet and a little spicy. Mix one part with about three parts ginger ale, or soda water if that’s too sweet for you, and garnish it with a lime and a cucumber spear and some mint if you’re really fancy (I’ve also seen oranges). Note that this also makes a fine brunch drink because it’s fizzy and light enough to start early with it, but delicious enough to take you right through afternoon and evening. When my friends Nommi and Mike got married a few years ago, Nommi, being half English, celebrated by circulating pitchers of cucumbery Pimm’s Cups throughout the whole reception. It was simply sparkling. Mix up your own for a little of that clear brown lightness and bring the Pimm’s back to the people. Tally ho, yo.

So what’s your favorite summertime cocktail, and what’s your favorite spot you’ve ever sipped it?

28 responses to “Thursday favorites: Summertime cocktails”

  1. autumn says:

    this is the benefit of being up early? #1 comment.

    Yeah favourites and #1 Pimm’s Cup. I like the garnish factor and the earthy spicy sweetness. That wedding sounds fun. I imagine the reception starting in the evening in a tent, on a great lawn and moving into the night with sparkling white lights and everyones face aglow with Pimm’s blush.

    My other two favourite summertime cocktails are campari/soda and wine spritzers. One the later, I’ve adopted a recipe for wine marinated grapes that adds a nice bite to the old spritzer. You take a dry white wine and pour the bottle over a bunch of grapes and let them soak. After 24 hours, you pull out the grapes and set aside, putting the wine in a mixing container. After adding lemon zest to the grapes, I like to put them in the freezer. You add sparkling water to the wine and plop a few frozen wine grapes in the glass for a delicious refresca.

  2. PB says:

    Sanpelligrino Lemonatas with Bombay Sapphire over lots of ice. MB’ nearly famous watermelon margaritas (the secret is the frozen fruit IS the ice). Diet Coke and Rum (I know BORING, but delicious). And then all the fancy concoctions that MB makes that I have no clue what’s in them but am eternally grateful for. They are like zippy, trippy mysteries – don’t ask, don’t tell, just sip.

  3. Dave says:

    I ended up with some fancy orange bitters a few months ago and found a recipe on the internet that I can’t seem to find again, nor can I remember the name of the drink, although it sounded particularly made-up (even for a cocktail name) anyway. Two ounces gin, two ounces fresh grapefruit juice, once ounce dry vermouth, a few dashes of orange bitters. Shake with ice, strain, garnish with an orange slice. For a lighter version, mix in a tall glass with ice and add club soda.

    I’ve made these on Lane and Adriana’s lovely roof deck in Brooklyn — was that Memorial Day? — and at Slade’s lovely country house. A great summer drink, quite dry for having so much fruit juice.

    And yeah, the Pimm’s cup is also great. Every bartender at Fresh Salt makes a different version.

  4. Dave says:

    A proper Tom Collins (with real lemon juice) is also a great summer drink. As is a Six Points Hefeweizen at an outdoor table at Fresh Salt.

  5. LP says:

    When I was traveling to Austin on business a few years back, I had the most delicious cocktail ever: a “Mexican martini.” Unfortunately, I never got the recipe from the bartender, and the ones I’ve seen online don’t come close to replicating the sheer tequila-ey goodness. It’s like a margarita, but less juicy, more subtle. Deelish. Anyone know a good recipe for it?

    Re: 1: My neighbor in DC put the Concord grapes that grew in his patio into vodka for 24 hours. Also delicious.

  6. Dave says:

    Lots of good tequila, a splash of triple sec, a splash of lime juice?

  7. Stephanie Wells says:

    I’m all about the Compari with soda these days. I find that 2PM is a perfect time for the sweetly-bitter combo.

  8. Scotty says:

    That was me.

  9. I’m all about simple cocktails because I don’t have much of a bar. Gin and tonic is an old favorite: I like to make it fairly strong, like more than half gin, and I like to put some mint leaves in it. A newly acquired favorite (since we vacationed in the USVI this winter) is Cruzan flavored rum and tonic. Also good, Myers rum and seltzer, with lime.

    As Dave points out, margueritas are a wonderful summertime drink, and not too complex.

  10. Cruzan flavored rum

    Specifically, coconut flavored. But I imagine the other flavors would be good too.

  11. Dave says:

    I did not point out anything about margueritas! I’m not crazy about them, actually.

  12. Tequila + triple sec + lime juice is not called a marguerita? I’ve been doing things wrong all these years!

  13. LP says:

    The most excellent margarita recipe, courtesy of one L. Twitchell:

    1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
    1/2 cup of tequila
    1/4 cup of cointreau or triple sec
    1/4 cup of sugar

    Put in blender, fill with ice. Blend. Drink. Exult.

  14. Dave says:

    12: No, it’s a suggestion for a Mexican Martini, less obnoxiously juicy than a marguerita.

  15. lane says:

    thanks for remembering LP, I must say as that recipie has evolved I’ve decided the sugar isn’t helpful. They’d never use it in Mexico, it’s a very American ingredient.

    Did any one see Mark Bittman’s article on cocktails in the Times a couple weeks ago?

    It was nice, he broke down the basic ingredients in the “sour” cocktail, which most are.

    Did you know that a Margarita and a Daiquiri are basically the same drink, one is tequilla the other Rum.

    He went on and on with other comparisions.

    Happy Mixing!

  16. lane says:

    here’s the article.

    (sorry it’s not embedded, i fear a repeat of Trixie’s 4th of July fiasco)

  17. 14: Huh, I would not have known to make the distinction.

    one is tequila the other rum

    Plus, one is lime the other various non-lime fruits. Isn’t a piña colada pretty similar to a daquiri also (I ask, knowing nothing of the art of preparing either drink)?

  18. Oh: looking at lane’s article I see I have confused “daquiri” with “banana/or whatever daquiri”. I was not familiar with the former.

  19. Adriana says:

    SWells, thanks for reminding me of what’s been missing from my summer: mmmm, Campari. Time for me to do my best Salma Hayek imitation. Where’s I put my red fuck-me dress…

  20. LT says:

    Nobody has mentioned my favorite all-season drink: champagne, champagne, champagne. In the summer: very very cold rosè.

  21. Jeremy says:

    i agree–rosè in the summer. also, i love it when scotty makes me a margarita w/ salt. he knows how i like it. yes please.

    (i think campari is kinda disgusting, but it’s pretty to look at…)

  22. Jenomnibus says:

    I like Mojitos myself, although a nice glass of white wine trumps hard alcohol any day. Does anybody know how to make a Sidecar anymore? Dames.

  23. Tonight I was at a bar and I thought of this thread, and ordered a Tom Collins. The bartendrix thought I said “Campari” and it took a few tries to get myself understood. …Hm. A little sour for my tastes. I will stick with gin and tonic.

  24. swells says:

    Thursday favorites in action!

  25. A little sour for my tastes

    Hm — just now I had the thought, maybe this bartendrix was not really familiar with this drink, and I should find someone who knows how to mix it properly before I dismiss it like that. After all it took a minute to even get her to recognize the name of the drink I was asking for — that suggests perhaps she does not field a lot of requests for Tom Collinses.

  26. ks says:

    #22 Jenomnibus: A side car (in case you haven’t already looked this up) is a perfect margarita (ala # 13, sans sugar because you get plenty in the triple sec/cointeau) but made with BRANDY! They are delish. But, I think it is important to NOT use that nasty Rose’s Lime Juice stuff. But you can feel free to use relatively inexpensive brandy, such as E&J. Most bars use that. I’d think roughly two parts brandy, one part cointreau, and one part lime, shaken and strained into a chilled martini glass (garnished with a lime coin, of course) will make you feel like a 40s vamp for moment or two. Beware though, they pack a whallop. Dang. Now I want one!

  27. I made a drink twice in the last couple of days, that I liked a whole lot: mash juice from a piece of watermelon (easy to do, no machinery required: just put chunks of watermelon in a collander with a bowl underneath, and mash them up with the back of a spoon) and mix in roughly equal proportions with gin. What would this drink be called — watermelon martini? — and how could it be enhanced?

  28. (Use more or less gin depending on how watery the watermelon liquor is — the first time I tried this I got a really sweet, red juice, and I cut it fairly strongly with gin; the second time I got a juice of weaker flavor, and did not use as much gin.)