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Fresh and Original Summer Cocktails

August 4, 2012

Inspired by Drink Week over at Food in Jars (my go-to site for canning), I decided to try and whip up a few summer drinks I’ve been thinking about (also, check out the link for more great ideas – including Well Preserved’s Canadian entry!). I’m no mixologist but I did my ‘tour of duty’ as a bartender in university and was into mixing drinks at home before craft beer and home brewing it took over my drinking hours. As I’ve gotten more into cooking, preserving, and general ‘do-it-yourself-ness’, I’ve been intrigued by using fresh ingredients, homemade ingredients, and offbeat ingredients to create one-of-a-kind drinks. So, here are three summer drink recipes that abide by the mantra ‘simple is better’ and that look to incorporate ingredients I’ve picked and/or created. Each of these recipes are for 1 drink and can be scaled up appropriately.

Apricot, Ginger and Bourbon Slush (aka, Apricot I Loved You)

I was initially inspired this beautiful apricot and currant wine cooler, though I’m not much of the wine cooler type. How to make the drink a little more ‘hefty’? Bourbon, of course. Fruit goes well with bourbon (as the latest taste test of my cherry bounce attests to). I also didn’t have any more fresh apricots, though I had just picked some two weeks ago with Not Far From the Tree (more on their amazing-ness in another post!) and made a delightful cinnamon apricot sauce that added a nice cinnamon spice to the mix. Set to go! So here’s the breakdown:

- 2 heaping tablespoons of apricot sauce (stewed apricots with cinnamon, then blended). You could use fresh apricots as well (about 2 apricots) and just blend them up with the rest; throw in a dash of cinnamon to compensate.

- 1.5-2 oz bourbon (good enough to drink, though not too good to waste by mixing!)

- 2 oz homemade ginger syrup

- a handful of ice

- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

- a sprig of mint

Throw everything but the mint into the blender, blend until smooth. Into the glass, garnish with mint. Drink and sigh deeply with satisfaction. Extra: I also garnished it with a bourbon soaked cherry from my bounce :)

Wild Violet and Lemon Breeze (aka, Pretty in Purple)

Back in the beginning of June, I had made my own violet syrup from violets I’d found foraging. I’ve not had the chance to really use it yet, being quite delicate it needs the right moments to shine. Cocktails are that moment. I went with a light touch that would let the violet syrup shine, both visually and in taste and the result was refreshing and delicate – for those finer, more delicate occasions in life… The breakdown:

- 1.5 oz violet syrup

- 1.5 oz vodka

- juice from half of a lemon

- soda water

- mint and lemon for garnish (a thought has crossed my mind that mint could easily be muddled into this – feel free to do so!)

Pour violet syrup and lemon juice in glass. Fill with ice. Add vodka and top up with soda water. Pull out your parasol, bake some scones and drink this with your pinky finger pointing out. 

Preserved Plum and Lime Smash (aka, the Plum Plumber)

I also happened to pick and can 11 pints of plums from the neighbourhood last week, one of which was in my fridge. They were local and still pretty tart, but when paired with the syrup, a cinnamon stick, and a piece of vanilla bean that I canned them in – heaven. The preserved plums are an amazing mix of tart, sweet, and spicy warmth. Which is what a good drink also often is. And what is the syrup you preserve with but a glorified simple syrup? This drink was born of my want to not let the canning syrup go to waste, and this plum tarragon smash assured me I was on the right path! The breakdown:

- 1 preserved plum (canned in syrup w/ cinnamon and vanilla bean)

- 3 oz syrup from preserved plums

- 1-5-2 oz bourbon

- juice from 1 lime

- Soda water

- ice

Smash plum in the glass (mine were canned whole, so make sure the pit comes out!). Add lime juice. Fill glass most of the way with ice. Add bourbon. Top up with soda water, leaving room for syrup on top. Find a patch of pure, unadulterated sunshine and enjoy. 

Sorta Dark and Stormy

As mentioned in the first recipe, I made some ginger syrup which, according to the recipe, also works to make a mean homemade ginger ale. Yes, I made homemade ginger ale. I’m also a big fan of the Caribbean drink, Dark and Stormy, which is made with dark rum and ginger beer. Close, right? Homemade ginger ale subs in for ginger beer and golden rum for dark rum, otherwise this is the tried and true classic. The breakdown:

1.5-2 oz rhum (I had Angostura 1919 – a golden rum – on hand because its the best rum my money can buy at the LCBO, a dark rum would make this look more like a dark and stormy though.)

- ginger syrup

- soda water

- 1 lime

- ice

Fill glass with ice. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 full of ginger syrup – I tend to lean to 1/3 because I like the ginger ‘kick’ the syrup gives. Squeeze lime juice in, saving one slice for garnish. Fill almost to the top with soda water. Add rum. Garnish with remaining lime slice. Find a chair outside one summer evening and drink these all night.

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