Summer Cocktail Recipes from the Drinkhacker Staff

Summer Cocktail Recipes from the Drinkhacker Staff

Since receiving a copy of Backcountry Cocktails in the mail a few weeks ago, I have been obsessed with one of the recipes found book’s middle pages that is slightly off the traveled mixology trail (see below for the details). It is proving a delightful alternative to a nightly glass of wine and, along with the smoke and sage old-fashioned recipe also found in the book, has rekindled my love for mixing drinks. This led me to wonder what everyone else on staff was enjoying during these early summer months of disasters, natural and man-made. So, as one does, I fired off an email to everyone and received some enthusiastic responses. So here they are, presented for your summery consideration.

Christopher Null: Aperol Spritz

I first wrote up a recipe for the iconic Aperol Spritz back in 2009. I took a ridiculous picture of it in a Collins glass full of garbage ice, with no garnish. Despite the absurd presentation, it’s still one of the most delightful warm-weather drinks you’re going to find, and the preparation couldn’t be simpler. If we’re eating outside in the summer and a Spritz is on the menu, I’m ordering it. I mean, unless they have Frosé.

Aperol Spritz
1 ½ oz. Aperol
2 oz. Prosecco
Splash of sparkling water

Gently stir ingredients in a large wine glass, over ice. Garnish with orange peel and an olive, if desired.

Robert Lublin: Summer Negroni

The Negroni is an almost perfect cocktail, but for the warmer months, I substitute Campari with Aperol, which isn’t quite as bitter and has a lower abv. I also use blanco vermouth instead of sweet for a lighter, fruitier character. Lemon gin adds brightness. Altogether, a perfectly complex summer sipper!

Summer Negroni
1 part Aperol
1 part blanco vermouth
1 part lemon gin

Add all ingredients along with plentiful ice in a shaker. Stir until ice cold. Using a strainer, pour over fresh ice and garnish with lemon.

Drew Beard: The Last Word

I’ve been getting back into gin more and more in the warmer months. While a G&T is an easy, mindless way to scratch that itch, the classic Last Word is my go-to for company or when I’m looking for something a little more complex and refreshing. You won’t find a cocktail easier to make that tastes this good (four ingredients, identical proportions), and better yet, it helps put a dent in that giant bottle of Green Chartreuse hanging out in my bar.

The Last Word
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. gin
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a brandied cherry, a lime twist, or anything else that looks pretty.

David Tao: Gold Rush

For warmer months, I tell myself I want a drink that’s predominantly bitter, but that’s not really what I crave. I actually end up leaning sweet + citrusy, and for that, there are few cocktails better than a Gold Rush. However, I found a twist on the classic that I really enjoy. Instead of bourbon as the base spirit, I use cask strength light whiskey (ideally something aged over 12 years for more complexity of flavor). The lemon and honey syrup hold up with the higher proof spirit, so the end result is still refreshing with some additional golden pop!

Gold Rush (adapted from Chris’ great article):
2 oz. bonded bourbon or if you’re feeling adventurous, cask strength light whiskey
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. honey syrup

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into an old fashioned glass over a single large cube. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Bob Strohmeyer: Bob’s Mezcalita

A smoky alternative to the common Margarita, the Mezcalita typically leans on mezcal, orange juice, and lime. At a Mexican restaurant in LA, I recently encountered a variation sweetened with orgeat and cream of coconut that I’ve been modifying ever since.

Bob’s Mezcalita
2 oz. Espadin Mezcal
2 oz. lime juice
1.5 oz. orange juice
1 oz. orgeat
1 oz. cream of coconut

For this slightly tropical version, vaguely reminiscent of a Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake until frothy, and pour into a rocks glass or margarita glass. Salt the rim with Tajin if you like. (I don’t, but that’s a common Mezcalita thing to do.) Garnish with lime.

Rob Theakston: Pine Collins

As previously mentioned at the beginning of this article (and thank you for reading this far), I have been making this cocktail for any unfortunate soul who happens to stop by our house expecting a single malt, bourbon, or glass of wine. Responses have varied, but most tend to share my enthusiasm for the Pine Collins, a drink which can be found in Backcountry Cocktails by Steven Grasse, Adam Erace, and Lee Noble. Lee gets full credit for this drink, and I thank authors for allowing us to reprint it here. It has relaunched my love for Zirbenz, and for spending more than 30 minutes outdoors. If you have a go at making this, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Pine Collins (makes 1 cocktail)
1 ½ oz. Zirbenz Pine Liqueur
¾ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ oz. simple syrup
3 dashes aromatic bitters
3 oz. seltzer water
Garnish (optional, but incredibly effective): Pine sprig

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add Zirbenz, lemon juice, syrup and bitters and briskly stir to combine. Top with seltzer and stir, garnish and serve. (Photo courtesy of Quaker City Mercantile)

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