7 Summer Cocktails to Die For

Carol Miller, author of the Moonshine Mystery series—the latest of which, An Old Fashioned Murder, is available now—takes us into the unofficial turn of cocktail season with 7 summer cocktails to die for!

It’s that time again, when political pundits are wringing their hands as to debate strategies and early polling. But, while they’re busy counting delegates, I’m in the garden, anxiously monitoring the first mint leaves, trying to repair the damage caused by Old Man Winter and trampling spring deer.

This is important stuff, after all. Without an ample supply of fresh mint, there are no mint juleps; and mint juleps are the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, which is, in turn, the unofficial start of cocktail season.

See also: An Old Fashioned Murder: New Excerpt

I live in southwestern Virginia, along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Summer here is downright sultry, and we tend to prefer our beverages on the strong side, most frequently in a rocking chair or on the porch swing. We also like to invite over the neighbors, so all the recipes below are designed as single servings to allow guests a range of freshly-made options, rather than forcing everyone to consume the same gallon bowl of punch, which will quickly become diluted and tepid on the patio. 

When discussing cocktails, there are those who will absolutely insist that a Mint Julep only be served in a sterling silver or pewter julep cup and an Old-Fashioned cannot appear in anything other than—wait for it—an Old-Fashioned glass. My view regarding appropriate barware, however, is that if you’re the one who made the drink, and you’re the one who’s drinking the drink, then you should put it into whatever glass makes you happy and ignore the naysayers. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good philosophy for life, too.

*A note on simple syrup: Simple syrup is readily available in stores, but you can easily make your own. Just boil equal parts sugar and water (e.g., one cup sugar to one cup water) until the sugar is fully dissolved, then cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator.

7 Summer Cocktails to Die For

MINT JULEP

Mint leaves should be muddled. That means bruising them. Tender caresses won’t release sufficient oil and aroma; bludgeoning will turn your drink bitter and get bits of mint in your teeth. If you don’t have a muddler, the back of a spoon works well.

Ingredients:

– 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves

– 1/2 oz. simple syrup

– 2 oz. Bourbon

Instructions:

  1. Muddle mint leaves together with simple syrup in the bottom of a chilled glass.
  2. Fill with crushed ice and add Bourbon.
  3. Stir until the glass becomes frosty.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig.

WHISKEY SMASH

A refreshing variation on the Mint Julep.

Ingredients:

– 5 to 8 fresh mint leaves

– Half a lemon, cut into 3 or 4 wedges

– 3/4 oz. simple syrup

– 2 oz. Bourbon

Instructiont:

  1. Muddle mint leaves together with lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add simple syrup, Bourbon, and ice.
  3. Shake well and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a mint sprig.

GIN RICKEY

Tart and fizzy. This is also a nice option for those looking to avoid added sugar.

Ingredients:

– 2 oz. gin

– Half a lime, juiced

– Seltzer or club soda

Instructions:

  1. Pour gin and lime juice over ice in a glass.
  2. Add seltzer or club soda to taste and stir.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

GOLDEN DAZE

For a beachy mood.

Ingredients: 

– 1 1/2 oz. gin

– 1/2 oz. peach brandy

– 1 oz. orange juice

Instructions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a glass.

OLD-FASHIONED

A classic, for good reason. Rye may be substituted for Bourbon. Brandy is popular in Wisconsin.

Ingredients:

– 1 sugar cube (or ½ tsp. sugar)

– 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters

– 2 oz. Bourbon

Instructions:

  1. Muddle sugar together with bitters in a glass until sugar dissolves (a dash of water may be added if necessary).
  2. Add ice and Bourbon.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Traditional garnishes include a lemon twist, slice of orange, and maraschino cherry.

DISMAL SWAMP WATER

An excellent method for sampling the local moonshine, which by me is invariably corn whiskey.

Ingredients:

– 2 oz. grain whiskey

– Lemonade

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a Mason jar.
  2. No additional glass required.

RIGOR MORTIS

Recommended for the day after enjoying all the aforementioned beverages.

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 oz. vodka

– 3/4 oz. amaretto

– 1 oz. orange juice

– 1 oz. pineapple juice

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a glass.

May your thirst be abundantly quenched this summer…And if you happen to stumble into my neck of the woods, there’s always a rocking chair and a cocktail shaker waiting. From the looks of it, the mint is coming along nicely. Cheers!

 


Carol Miller is the author of the Moonshine Mystery Series. Murder and Moonshine was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Library Journal Starred Debut of the Month. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.