It's that time of year again. Every season we toss out our old cocktails and usher in a new batch of seasonal drinks. The Margarita, The Juice, and the Pimm's Cup are all remaining. This summer we're One Hundred Percent focused on the most refreshing things we can find. Here's what we came up with.
It should be noted that there are two main versions of the history of this drink, this is the one I prefer. Hemingway, aside from being one of the greatest american writers, was a legendary drinker. In Cuba he was affectionately called "Papa". One day he walked in the La Floridita Bar in Havana and ordered a Daiquiri from bartender Constantino Ribalaigua Vert. Hemingway's reply was "That's good, but I prefer mine with twice the rum and no sugar", effectively ordering 4 ounces of Vodka with some lime juice. This drink is known as the "Papa Doble", and is... aggressive, to say the least. Over time the drink evolved to have Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and Grapefruit juice and became known as the Hemingway Daiquiri. The result is a tart, but balanced, drink that's perfect on a hot day. I'm going to have to find a new way to say that over then next few drinks
Depending on who you ask, this drink has it's origins on with the South Side of Chicago or the Southside Sportmen's Club on Long Island. It may have also been the drink of choice for Al Capone and his gang, but I got that from Wikipedia, so who knows. The point is, we didn't create it, but we did tweak it for a sticky Houston Summer.
Let's get one thing out of the way first. A whole lot of people don't like gin for one of two reasons 1: They drank a shot of Gin when they were young and hated it or 2) They have tried either a Gin and Tonic or a Martini and didn't like it. This is not an acceptable reason to not like gin. Gin is perfect for the summer and this drink, with lemon, lime, mint, and soda water, might be the most refreshing drink in the world. Quote me.
The Mint Julep
The Mint Julep was, at one time, the height of luxury. The recipe is based in the 18th century. Back then, Bourbon and mint weren't exactly rare, but Ice was expensive back in the days before refrigeration and the notion of shaving it down to tiny pieces that would melt rapidly was just... wasteful.
The Mint Julep isn't exactly a secret, but the best resource on how to make one is the YouTube video below from Chris McMillan. Truthfully the whole series is outstanding and you should watch them all.
This Season's Sangria has a nice Rose, Raspberry Liqueur, Cocchi Rosa, Peach Bitters, Agave Syrup, and Berry LaCroix, and the whole mixture soaks in Peaches, Citrus, and Strawberries. It's not overtly sweet, and the Cocchi Rosa lends a very light bitterness that will cut through any heat.
Returning to the menu again this summer, the Caipirinha is a popular cocktail in Brazil made with Cachaca. Cachaca is like a cousin of rum. The (general) difference between the two is that while Rum is made with Molasses, a byproduct of the sugar making process, Cachaca is made with fermented sugarcane juice. IfI had to describe the flavor, it's similar to Rum with some grassy notes reminiscent of a highland tequila. It is definitely one of those products you don't want to buy cheap on though.
The traditional Caipirinha is made by muddling sugar and lime together (Muddling the limes releases a lot of oils) and then it's shaken with the Cchaca and the whole thing is poured in a glass, ice and all. We felt it would be criminal to not include a nice summer fruit in here, and blackberries are a welcome addition with lime.
The Tom Collins is an essential summer drink that seems to have totally disappeared, which is a shame, because the simple combination of Old Tom Gin, Lemon, Sugar, and Soda Water is outstanding.
Reader: "But... But... I don't like Gin"
See the Southside write up above. You will like this, I promise. My mom "hates" Gin but loves both these drinks. Back to the Collins.
The Tom Collins has a long and fairly uninteresting history, so we'll skip that. This particular recipe came to me out of necessity. I was making a Tom Collins at home and to my horror, I found I was out of Club Soda. What I did have, however, was a Coconut flavored sparkling water. I wasn't convinced it would be good, but I was already halfway through the drink, so what could I do? Well the Coconut twist on the Tom Collins was a revelation. I started bringing my own coconut soda to make them at work, so now I put it on the menu so I don't have to. Yes that's true.
Cocktail Of The Week
Every week we're going to be rolling out a different cocktail to try. This week is the Negroni: a combination of Gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. It can be a challenging drink if you aren't used to aggressively bitter flavors, but hey, it's a classic.
G&T Of The Week
The Gin and Tonic (yes, Gin again) is an essential summer drink. It's easy and it's delicious. Every week we'll be rolling out a different take on this to keep things fresh. First up is the Cucumber G&T. It's a pretty complicated drink. It has Cucumber, Gin, and Tonic. Try to decode that recipe list at home if you're feeling adventurous.