My Top 3 Summer Cocktails

Endless days, sandy beaches, long nights and al fresco dining: yes, the summer season is here. My desire to kick back with a cocktail is stronger than ever this time of year and lucky for you, I’ve got just what you need. There’s nothing nicer than a delicious cold cocktail (or two) by the pool or at your next BBQ. Here are the three cocktails you need to start your summer off right.

Sparkling Lemon Basil Lillet

Let’s talk about Lillet, (pronounced "lee-lay") a cocktail that is available in blanc and rouge variations; the blanc is my go-to for summer drinks. Lillet is an aperitif wine produced in Podensac, France. It's fortified with citrus liqueurs made from sweet and bitter oranges, grapefruit peels and is flavored with quinine. It looks like a white wine has grassy and herbal notes and a very citrusy, bright flavor.

To celebrate the unique taste of Lillet, start off with this effervescent drink that lets you get creative with sparkling wines.

What you need:

- 1.5 ounces Lillet

- 2 lemons

- 3 sprigs of fresh basil

- 1.5 ounces orange juice

- 2 ounces sparkling wine

In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1.5 ounces Lillet, 1.5 ounces of orange juice, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, Toss a sprig of basil in there, too. Shake hard, and double-strain (that is, through a fine mesh strainer) into a tall glass with fresh ice. Add an ounce or two of sparkling wine and garnish with lemon wedge.

My twist on creating just the right drink for summer is citrus and herbs that lend a fresh, herbal flavor, while the sparkling wine makes it easy drinkin’ all afternoon long.

Spicy Mezcal with Blood Orange and Habanero
If you like tequila, you will love its better looking, tastier cousin mezcal - it’s in The same category of Oaxacan agave spirits that includes tequila but has smokier and more brawny taste. Though traditionally you drink it straight, mezcal's intense smokiness and slight savory edge make it especially compelling in cocktails. This drink is made with seasonal blood oranges, macerated habaneros, mezcal, and lime; it’s smoky, spicy, and tangy all at the same time. At first sip, blood orange and lime juice refresh the taste buds, but soon the smoky and spicy undertones of habanero-infused mezcal creep over the palate. It’s the ideal drink to start the summer with a fiery kick!

What you need:

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle (that is, smash up) 1 to 3 thin slices of habanero, depending on the heat you’re after (1 will be a fun little tingle; 3 is spicy)

Add 1½ ounces of mezcal

2 ounces of blood orange juice

½ ounce of simple syrup

A dash of Angostura bitters

Lots of ice

Shake that all together and double-strain (through a fine strainer) into a tall glass over fresh ice. Add 2 ounces of club soda, and garnish with a habanero or orange slice.

Image credit: Giraffeescanbaker

Classic Dirty Martini

I love a classic martini, the world’s most famous cocktail; it’s an iconic drink and one that should be in everyone’s drink repertoire. There is no mystery to the martini. It is, quite simply, gin and dry vermouth. There are a number of ways to customize it and this has spurred a debate over the "proper" way to make a martini. Though it's a never-ending discussion, the only correct answer is how you, as the drinker, enjoy it best. My personal preference for a martini is extra dirty with an olive.

The greatest thing about this classic cocktail is that once you fall in love with it, you will know exactly how you like it. Most of this comes from adjusting the ratio of gin to vermouth and garnish selection. After some experimentation, you may just join the ranks of devoted martini connoisseurs. It's the one drink that has so many variations. Among all of those, there are a few common recipes and each has its own name (dirty martini, vodka martini, dry martini). Also, purists will tell you the type of gin you use will also differentiate the drink because every gin is different. I personally prefer Plymouth Gin.

What you need:

2 1⁄2 ounces Plymouth Gin

1⁄2 ounces Dry vermouth

1⁄2 ounces Olive brine

Olives for garnish

In a mixing glass, combine vodka, dry vermouth, brine, and olives. Pour into a glass over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Happy Summer!



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