Food on the grill and sunbathing on beaches. Corn on the cob and fresh picked ripe peaches. Bright colored bikinis tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things.
Among those favorite things is also a good cocktail. At night I am usually a manhattan drinker and most days Matt and I will just grab a quick beer or a glass of bubbly. Because they are good, but also because they are EASY. Occasionally though, I want something more.
I can’t tell you how many times I have saved cocktail inspiration only for it be completely forgotten about. I do it with the best of intentions – I swear! Fancy bitters and hand carved garnishes. They look so pretty, but let’s be real, who has time for that? But I still save them because I love good cocktails and in those moments – there’s hope!
Recently as the weather has been out.of.control. HOT! we have been keeping our kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and pitcher after pitcher of this homemade lemonade. All of these extra summer ingredients hanging around have inspired us to make a few more cocktails than usual. Perfect for lounging by the pool or sipping on the deck as the sun slowly slips into the horizon.
For those days when you want something that takes just a little more effort, we’ve got you covered! Check out these five cocktails below that we deem to be THE BEST (i.e. easiest) we have crafted so far this summer.
The gin & tonic is such a classic mixed drink. It was my grandmother’s drink of choice for many years. She was a smart lady. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I myself discovered the magic of one of these cool beverages on a hot summer day. We decided to put a small twist on this classic that gave it a slight upgrade. We may have totally depleted the lavender from our garden, but look at this beaut. Totally worth it, right?
.75oz lavender infused tonic
Lavender flowers for garnish
Begin by placing a few lavender leaves into a saucepan with some of your tonic. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain your tonic and allow to cool. Add your gin and lavender infused tonic to a cup with ice. Top off with plain tonic water. Garnish with lavender flower.
July = watermelon. No doubt about it. I just could not let the Fourth of July slip by without throwing a watermelon in my grocery cart. That’s just… unAmerican. So I did like any good patriot would – I got the biggest, heaviest one I could lift with my haven’t-been-to-the-gym-in-ages arms. Which meant a ton of melon leftovers. We try our very best to refrain from wasting any product. Sometimes that means getting creative with using up a product before it spoils. For our watermelon, we turned the leftovers into watermelon cubes for our perfect-to-sip-by-the-pool shandy.
Watermelon ice cubes*
3oz homemade lemonade
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Beer
Add a few watermelon ice cubes to a pint glass. Add the lemonade and lemon juice. Fill the rest of the glass with Goose Island. Continue to top glass off with beer as needed.
*To Make Watermelon Ice Cubes:
Purée watermelon in a blender and then strain out the pulp. Pour the watermelon juice into ice cube trays and freeze.
Bourbon Cherry Lemonade
Remember how I told you we have been making so.much.lemonade? Well, here’s the perfect way to graduate this childhood entrepreneurial staple to adulthood. When I originally had this cocktail in mind, I was planning on making a strawberry liqueur from fresh picked strawberries this year. Unfortunately, we missed the window to pick by a few days so cherry liqueur it is! You could really change this up with a variety of different flavored liqueurs. Lemonade lends itself to variety.
2oz Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon
1oz homemade cherry liqueur
5oz Homemade lemonade
Shake first three ingredients and strain over ice. Garnish with mint
Cape St. Claire Punch
The namesake cocktail, paying homage to where we currently do most of our day drinking! Every pool party needs a good punch and this combination of rum and fruits really hits the spot.
1oz Dogfish Dark Honey Rum
1oz Silver Rum
1.5oz Pineapple Juice
1.5oz Orange Juice
1.5oz Cranberry Juice
Juice of one lime
Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with your favorite summer fruit.
What is summer in Maryland without a crush anyway? Orange and grapefruit crushes are the standard go-to, but since we recently picked up the bottle pictured below during a quick day trip to St. Michael’s, Maryland, we decided to try substituting it in place of triple sec in the standard version of a crush. It had a nice little spicy note and the sparkling floater we topped it all off with just made it feel special!
2oz Hope Organic Vodka
.5 oz Lyon Orange Liqueur
Fresh squeezed orange juice
2oz sparkling rosé
In a glass with crushed ice, add vodka and Lyon Orange Liqueur. Next add the juice from 1-2 oranges. Top with sparkling rosé floater.
If one of these drinks looks good to you, but you don’t have all the ingredients, play around with it. See what you come up with. Sub a different fruit or infuse your tonic with a different herb. Let us know what you tried, liked, or came up with on your own! We’re always looking for new inspiration and projects to play with in our kitchen.
Stay cool, friends!
Megan and Matt