Five Recipes for Savory Sipping Summer Cocktails

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Delicious refreshments that will be sure to keep you cool this summer.

Summer’s here and it’s time to take to the patio, deck or backyard and enjoy the great outdoors. What better way to savor the warm summer weather than with some light, flavorful concoctions to keep you cool?

As the temperatures rise, take to the outdoors with these delicious refreshments in hand:

Limoncello

Indulge in a nice spin on lemonade with this refreshing recipe for a classic Italian liqueur. This homemade elixir promises to make you quite the hit during your outdoor cocktail hour.

• 20 unwaxed lemons
• 1 quart vodka
• 3 cups sugar
• 3 ½ cups water

Wash lemons and peel or plane the zest, taking as little pith as possible (You only want the zest – reserve naked lemons for other purposes). Place zest and vodka in a sterile container and seal airtight. Allow zest to steep in vodka for 3 days.

In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil 3 minutes to set, then allow to cool.

Strain lemon peels from vodka. Combine sugar syrup and vodka in a bottle or other airtight container. Limoncello may be served immediately or stored up to 4 months.

Watermelon Mojito

Here’s a unique twist on the classic Cuban mojito and one of summer’s most popular thirst-quenching fruits, the watermelon. It’s light, refreshing, and even contains healthy nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants.

• 4 cups watermelon, cut in cubes (seeds removed)
• 4 ounces white rum
• 10 fresh mint leaves, crushed with mortar and pestle
• 3 tablespoons agave nectar
• 1/4 fresh lime juice

Puree the watermelon in a food processor. Transfer it to a large bowl, stir in the rum, crushed mint, agave nectar and lime juice. Mix well and pour into a pitcher for serving. Fill a tall glass with ice, pour the mojito mix into it and top with a sprig of fresh mint.

Kale Cocktail

Feeling a bit daring? Whip up this green cocktail at your next gathering and find yourself the talk of the town – in a good way. This specialty comes from The Cocktail Club in Charleston, S.C. and promises earthy, bitter and spicy tones in a healthy cocktail.

• 1.5 ounces gin (gin with minimal juniper works best)
• .5 ounce Cynar (Italian artichoke liqueur)
• .25 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
• 1.5 ounces kale syrup*
• 3-4 dashes orange bitters
• Smoked salt and pink peppercorn rim (recipe to follow)

Add all ingredients (except salt and pepper) to a large shaker. Add ice, shake and strain into coupe or martini glass.

Kale Syrup
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• Kale leaves, large handful

Boil water and stir sugar to dissolve, then remove from heat. Add large handful of kale leaves. Let steep 5 minutes. Add to blender or food processor. Blend thoroughly, then strain into a clean sealable container. Should last 1 week in fridge.

Smoked Salt and Pink Peppercorn Rim
Using spice grinder or mortar and pestle, crush smoked sea salt and pink peppercorns to a very fine consistency. Use lime wedge to wet rim of glass and dip in the salt/pepper mixture.

Highland Sage

Here’s a unique summer cocktail featuring the fresh flavors of sage as a garnish. (Courtesy of Dan Carlson, mixologist at Saul at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York.)

• 1.5 ounces Macallan 12 Year
• 1 ounce Drambuie
• .75 ounce lemon juice
• .25 ounces chestnut honey syrup
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• 3 small sage leaves

Combine 1 part chestnut honey with two parts hot water and stir until dissolved. Combine all ingredients (minus one sage leaf) in a large shaker with a hefty ice chunk and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Double strain into a tapered double old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a sage leaf.

Sweet Sparkler

Summertime calls for all sorts of lemonade, so here’s another twist for your lemons, with an added pop or two. Pop Rocks to be exact. Based on the lemonade found at Flat Top Burger Shop in Austin Texas, this fruity concoction is as festive as it is tasty.

• 1 ¾ ounces vodka
• ¾ ounces lemonade*
• ½ ounce triple sec
• 1 ounce cranberry juice
• 1 lime wedge
• Blue Pop Rocks candy

Moisten rim of glass with lime and press into Pop Rocks. Combine all ingredients, shake and serve in glass over ice.

*Flat Top Burger Shop Lemonade
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup water
• 4-6 lemons
• 1 ½ cups cold water

Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4-6 lemons, enough for ½ cup of juice. Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher, cover with 1 ½ cups cold water and refrigerate 30 minutes.

These are just a few savory ideas to help you enjoy your patio, deck or backyard. After all, isn’t that why you have a patio, deck or backyard in the first place? Get out there!

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