Flip the pages of any foodie magazine these days or check the blogs and you will find strange, and probably wonderful, cocktails, crafted by cutting edge bartenders. Bacontinis, mushroom gin fizzes, lamb and mint juleps – OK, I made those last two up – but, seriously, when did drinking liquor become so complicated?
These dinner-in-a-glass, gastro experiements are fine for those trying to impress each other in urban clubs and refrigerated restaurants.We would all likely try one in those settings.
But attempting them at home? I don’t think so.
Think about a typical, steamy North Carolina afternoon, say in May – OK – July. Do you really want to be sipping on a drink that tastes like beef stroganoff? You don’t want to eat or prepare heavy meals, why would you attempt to do the same with a cocktail?
Keep things simple at the cocktail hour, whether it’s just you or you are having friends over. As always, the mantra is, simple doesn’t mean boring. You can still put a twist on cocktails without breaking a sweat. But if one has more than four ingredients, you might be missing the point. And don’t worry about fashion. Like clothing, drink fashions come and go faster than skinny jeans. So, if you drink Cosmos because you like the taste, and not just because the Sex and the City girls drank them, then by all means, serve them.
Think fresh herbs, fresh-squeezed juices, a touch of sweetness – after all this is the South – and lots and lots of ice.
Here are a few simple cocktails to get you started. Some involve a little more work than others, but shouldn’t take more than five minutes to whip up a batch. These recipes make four drinks.
2 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 cup orange liquor
1 1/2 cups sparkling water
sprigs of fresh mint
Put a sprig of mint in each 12-ouunce glass. Crush lightly with the back of a spoon. Fill glasses with ice. Combine grapefruit juice and orange liquor. Pour into glasses and top off with sparkling water. Stir briefly and serve.
4 ounces vodka
4 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
2 12-ounce ginger beers, well chilled
Pour vodka into glasses with ice. Add lime juice and top with ginger beer. Stir briefly.
1 quart fresh brewed sweet tea
1 cup limoncello
1 cup light rum
mint sprigs, lemon zest
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher full of ice. Pour into tall iced glasses.