“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine…. it’s summertime!” Kenny Chesney
The summer is here and like a good Oregonian, I am literally drinking it in. I think this season is more festive than the winter holidays, filled with sunshine, warm beach walks, flowers and produce overflowing and causal barbeques in the back yard. It is all topped off like a cherry with the summery drink in hand.
Summer is the season for creative cocktails (and mocktails) to serve up with the fun and sun. We all have our favorites all year long but the long sunny days ignite our creative fire to do things differently. (Well, at least it does in me) I like to take advantage of the seasons produce to make drinks with vibrant, crisp flavors that are thirst quenching and compliment the laid back summer meals.
The best complementing drinks to summer foods are ones that have a nice balance of sweet and tart. This is why there are about 1000 different variations on margaritas and lemonade; they scream summer and go with anything that is grilled or spicy. I recommend finding a go-to sour/sweet drink recipe that you enjoy that is fun to make many combinations of to try.
Making a paleo sweet/sour drink takes a bit of imagination and not being on a whole 30! Simple syrup, which is normally made with white fully processed sugar, is not on my diet, so I made some from honey. I just mixed ½ cup of honey with a ½ cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stirred till the honey was completely dissolved in the water. Do not let it boil and then let it cool. Taa daa! Paleo simple syrup.
Carefully choose your liquors as most of them do not list ingredients and the “flavored” ones are made with harmful chemicals. My caveman hubby and I really like Ciroc vodka, which is made of grapes and not grain like most vodkas. Tequila is also a good option, even though it is made with agave, that is a lessor evil.
Remember that summer drinks have no rule book behind them. Be playful and creative; don’t sweat mistakes as they are often the mother of invention. Most importantly, have a wonderful summer filled with all things you love about this season. Drink it in!
Citrus rosemary mojito
Makes one. Such a pretty and tasty cocktail!
1 oz or 2 TBS of simple honey syrup
1 oz or 2 TBS of grapefruit or orange juice
Few slices of grapefruit or orange
2 springs of rosemary
1.5 oz (one jigger) of white rum or vodka
Pour the simple syrup in a tall drink glass, (called a Collins glass), add the rosemary springs, grapefruit juice and slices and then muddle it. (Ya know, pound the living daylights out of it, preferably with a muddler, but a substantial wooden spoon works good too.) Pour in the rum, stir, then fill with ice and top off with club soda. Omit the rum and add twice as much citrus juice and simple syrup for a great mocktail.
Berry ginger ice tea
Makes 2 quarts or so. If you do not like berry seeds, press your blended berries through a mess before proceeding.
1 TBS of fresh grated ginger
1 pint of organic berries, washed and de-stemmed
5-6 TBS of simple honey syrup
6-8 cups of brewed cold earl gray tea or herbal tea of your choice
Toss your berries and grated ginger in the blender, and give them a light whirl till blended. Add the tea into the blender and blend some more. Taste, if it needs some simple syrup, add that in and give it another whirl of the blender, taste again till you to make sure you have the sweetness you desire. Pour into a pitcher and serve on ice garnished with berries and a tiny slice of ginger. *To make into a cocktail, add a jigger of vodka to each serving.
Danger alert! Makes one. This is Rob Wolf’s favorite! I like to only salt half the glass rim.
1/4 cup of kosher salt
2 TBS of lime juice
1 TBS of simple honey syrup (ginger infused is nice)
OR 1 TBS of a seedless berry jam like strawberry
1 TBS of orange liquor like triple sec or Cointreau
2 ounces or two jiggers of a good tequila
Spread the salt on a small plate, then rub the lime wedge around HALF of the glass, then dip it into the salt and set aside. (Can do this part ahead of time) In a cocktail shaker, add the all the ingredients, then add a cup or so of ice, and shake till you can’t anymore. Strain into the salt rimmed glass, add more ice and a lime wedge on the rim and serve. This can be done in the blender for an adult slushy too. Ole!