Similar to Westeros, the winters in Canada are fairly long. So when the summer finally rolls around here in Ottawa, with its beautiful weather and outdoor activities, many of us jump right in to summer mode! Not to be forgotten in all the seasonal excitement is the chance to enjoy a cool, refreshing cocktail. So I asked five FMMS bloggers to give you their preferred cocktail to enjoy this summer! But act fast if you want to try them all because, well you know… Winter Is Coming.
Here’s what they chose:
In my opinion, the mojito is one of the best drinks to enjoy during the hot summer months. The contrasting sweet and sour flavours of lime juice and simple syrup are extremely refreshing, but pale in comparison to the mint. I don’t think anything is as refreshing as the scent of freshly picked mint, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself smelling your beverage for an awkwardly inappropriate amount of time (just remember to have an occasional sip, there is rum in there after all!). I recommend placing some whole leaves at the top of the glass as a garnish, that way the mint can seduce the drinker at every sip.
You’ll note below that I strain out the mint leaves. The large muddled mint leaves do look nice but are more of a nuisance to the drinker than anything, constantly clogging your straw, not allowing you to enjoy your refreshing cocktail. If you strain your mojito, you are left with small (drinkable) mint floaties. If you’re using this method I would not recommend skimping on the mint garnish. It will give this drink it’s signature green and leafy look.
2 oz white rum
½ oz simple syrup
1 oz of lime juice
A sh!t load of mint (actual measurement: roughly 10 leaves)
Place the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with the simple syrup and lime juice and muddle to release the mint flavour. Add the rum and some ice to the shaker and shake vigorously, unlocking all the flavours. Strain the mixture into an ice filled highball glass and top with club soda. Add a gorgeous mint sprig as garnish.
What?! You don’t like mint? Well, that’s just silly, but if you still want to have a mojito, try substituting with another delicious green leaf. A Basil mojito or cilantro mojito will quench your thirst just as well.
Vodka Cucumber Basil Lemonade
I discovered this drink on We Are Not Martha last year while I was frantically scouring the Internet for new drinks to feed my burgeoning (humble) cucumber obsession. Sure, it isn’t a traditional cocktail, but don’t let that stop you from making a batch for your next party, or even just leaving the pitcher in the fridge for a few days so you can grab a glass whenever the sun comes out, because it is exactly as light and refreshing as it sounds.
If you check the source link, you’ll see that the ingredients list is pretty vague, so after a few tries at various BBQ’s, I’ve honed it down to something more exact, that will give you enough for about six servings (naturally, feel free to add more vodka or sugar if you’d like, but the following is a very good starting point). One word of advice: If you actually want to have a glass yourself (or mason jar, if you’ve got one handy), pour it before you serve the pitcher because it will be empty as soon as people see it.
Yields 6-8 servings
1 ½ cups vodka
⅓ cup cucumber juice (usually will require approx. ¾ of a large, English cucumber)
½ cup lemon juice (usually 2 squeezed lemons)
3 cups water
2 tbsp granulated sugar (or 1 ½ oz simple syrup)
13 fresh basil leaves
Cut ¾ of the cucumber in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds out, then chop the cucumber into smaller pieces. Blend or process the cucumber until it is a liquid, then strain into a large pitcher. Add the vodka, lemon juice, water, sugar, and basil leaves to the pitcher. Slice up the remaining cucumber and another lemon and add these to the pitcher. Stir the contents well and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, add ice to a 500ml mason jar and then fill it halfway with lemonade. Top it off with club soda.
When asked what my favourite summer drink was, I panicked, as I tend to do all too often when making decisions. There are so many options and factors to consider: Do I want sweet? Cool and sour? Maybe a stiff drink, or even a gimmicky take on a classic? Or do I want to showcase something unique or well-known? I really couldn’t decide.
The answer was much more obvious than I thought. All it took was a quick look at my recent empties. There were some beer bottles, the staples (gin, vodka, whiskey) and then several small, more uncommon bottles tucked away to the side: Green Chartreuse.
If you’ve never heard of Green Chartreuse, I’m excited to introduce you to arguably my favourite liqueur (and I’ve tried many). Chartreuse is a secret blend of 130 herbs and botanicals distilled in Voiron, France by Monks of the Carthusian order with instructions from a secret manuscript written in the early 17th century (See? Really cool!).
Its taste profile is initially sweet, but as it moves and swirls in your mouth, you experience a strong boozy fusion of herbs, then it finally settles back into a desirable sweet and mildly minty aftertaste. This isn’t your typical herbal liqueur, clocking in at 55% ABV.
Chartreuse is very trendy in the cocktail revival we’re currently experiencing, and as I searched for a drink that put this liqueur up front and centre, I came across the Chartreuse Smash. It follows a fairly simple classic sour formula, but I assure you, it is complex and refreshing – a perfect drink for summer days and nights.
The recipe outlined below seems to be the most popular and should be credited to BoboNYC. If you want to try an interesting alternative, I’d recommend substituting the mint for fresh sage. If you do, let me know what you think on twitter (@sebortega)
10 mint leaves
⅓ oz simple syrup
1 oz lemon juice
2 oz Green Chartreuse
Muddle mint, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice and Chartreuse, then shake vigorously and strain into rocks glass filled with crushed ice.
The Limoncello Shandy
When we think of those dog days of summer that we all love, I can’t help but imagine escaping from the heat with the refreshing Shandy cocktail. The mix of lager and lemonade is also the seamless bridge between beer drinkers and cocktail lovers.
The Shandy’s popularity always soars during the summer months. With its light invigorating taste it draws on both the refreshing parts of the beer’s bubbly bitterness and the lemonade’s sweet citrus delivery. The best part about the Shandy is its versatility. Anyone can interchange the beer or lemonade with any other sweet carbonated drink. Everything from amber ales to ginger ale or carbonated fruit blends can be swapped in to make your Shandy something to your personal taste.
This cocktail screams summer with its easy drinking feel and citrus based flavour profile. It’s perfect to sip on when you can’t decide between a beer or a fancier cocktail. I like sticking fairly close to the original Shandy recipe with one minor change, to turn it into a Limoncello Shandy.
2 oz of unsweetened brewed iced tea
2 oz of lemonade
1 oz of limoncello
Lager beer (anything you like!)
Pour lemonade, limoncello, and ice tea into chilled beer mug and stir lightly. Add beer last to ensure a nice healthy head of foam.
The Mint Julep
Simple cocktails are often the best cocktails. Throw a few ingredients together and magic happens. The negroni, the manhattan, the old fashioned, the vesper martini… the list goes on. The one thing these timeless classics have in common is they create a deep and complex flavour profile by throwing together a few ingredients any self-respecting, aspiring bartender would have.
My favorite summer cocktail, at the moment, is the mint julep. It’s sinfully simple. Bourbon. Sugar. Mint. That’s all. This is a cocktail so grand that it’s the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. So cool, that Ray Charles wrote a #1 hit about it.
If that’s not enough, it’s traditionally served in a silver cup… What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to be cool too?
Here’s how it’s done:
2 oz bourbon
Fresh mint leaves (if it’s from your backyard, even better)
1 tablespoon turbinado simple syrup (or simple syrup, or turbinado sugar)
Ice (preferably crushed)
Muddle as much mint as you desire (I like roughly 8 leaves) with the simple syrup. We don’t want to obliterate the mint, only release the oils. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Then add the bourbon and stir. Place a couple of leaves at the top of the glass so you get a whiff every time you go for a sip. Then drink. Then repeat.
So there you have it! Obviously there are tons of great summer-friendly cocktails out there, but these five are the ones that we’re enjoying the most at the moment.
Want to nominate some runner’s up? Hit the comments and let us know what you’re into, or even better, if you have some delicious variations on anything that we suggested above. Cheers!