It’s only May, but it’s already soaring past 90 degrees out there, and with the humidity, the air is dense enough to fell an ox. All we’ve got the energy for is mixing up some nice cold cocktails. We’re leaving the brown liquors alone until fall, and sticking with clear booze and citrus all summer long.
The Southeast Slush
It’s like a Southside cocktail, but with an Eastern twist thanks to the ginger and Sapphire East (which adds lemongrass and black pepper to Bombay’s usual juniper-forward aromatics). Plus: It’s slushy.
2 ounces Bombay Sapphire East gin
1/2 ounce Cynar (or similar amaro)
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste
3 ounces lemon sorbet
4 ice cubes
2 mint leaves
Place everything in a blender pitcher, with mint on the bottom – you want it in the closest contact with the blades. Pulse on high setting until you have a thick slush. Serve in a Mason jar.
The Peppery Dog
More fun than a Salty Dog. And by the way, Tito’s is expensive but it’s worth it – but hey, don’t let me dictate your buying habits. Just don’t use total swill.
2 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
3 ounces fresh red grapefruit juice
1 ounce black pepper syrup
First, the syrup: Take 4 ounces whole black peppercorns and crack half of them with the blade or butt end of a heavy chef’s knife. Add those and the remaining whole peppercorns to 3 cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a lively simmer and reduce the liquid by half – about 20 or 30 minutes.
Remove pan from burner, allow to cool to room temperature, then strain out the solids. You should have about a cup and a half of pepper-infused water. Pour the liquid back into saucepan, bring back to a boil, add 1.5 ounces of sugar and stir to dissolve, then remove from heat. When syrup has cooled to room temperature, add 1 tablespoon of lime juice, transfer to a clean jar and store in refrigerator.
Whew. OK. Now stir chilled vodka, juice and syrup into a tall, ice-filled glass. Serve with a straw.
The Bikini Body
Ever tried that Master Cleanse diet? Well, it turns out the lemonade it has you live on is actually pretty tasty. Especially when you add alcohol. (And skip the nasty sea-salt detox flushes.)
2 ounces sage-and-rosemary-infused vodka
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
First, infuse the vodka: Bruise three big sprigs of fresh rosemary and five or six fresh sage leaves by rolling between your fingers. Place in a Mason jar with 12 ounces of vodka (doesn’t need to be an expensive brand). Allow to steep overnight, then strain out the herbs.
Put 2 ounces infused vodka into an ice-filled shaker along with the maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne. Shake well and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass, or pour over one large piece of ice into a rocks glass.
The Beach Bum
Maybe you don’t want to bother with all of these syrups and infusions and blenders and such. There’s no shame in it; lazy bastards gotta drink too. This is a solution to beach drinking that’s a step above a warm tallboy.
empty 1-liter bottle
big handful of frozen raspberries
three shots of Campari
three shots of gin (I like Hendricks, but you do you)
two cans of San Pellegrino blood orange soda, chilled
Drop the frozen berries into the bottle, then use a funnel to pour in the booze. Carefully top off with the soda (don’t let it fizz up); leave some headroom, and cap. By the time you get to the beach, your drink will be mixed and chilled.