berry_sangria04

The temperature is soaring, as is typical of early July, and even though the inclination is to lie very still on the couch directly beneath the a/c vent, that grass ain’t gonna cut itself. Plus our storage shed desperately needs some organization and I (foolishly) promised to paint those porch railings … sigh. Every task I undertake leaves me hot, ill-tempered, and dying of thirst. And I’m pretty sure my electrolytes are low because there’s salt build-up in my mustache!

I can remember my Dad, many years ago, taking a salt tablet after a strenuous and draining day of grass mowing or an afternoon spent under the hood of one of the family’s reliably malfunctioning cars. I’m not sure anyone recommends ingesting salt in that fashion these days, but I have found that a margarita covers that base quite nicely. It’s cold, wet, tart, sweet, and (with a properly prepared rim) salty!

I have recently discovered Zing Zang margarita mix, which makes a terrific starting point for a really good ‘rita. Sometimes, though, I like something a bit out of the ordinary – a margarita with a twist. These two recipes are excellent options for creating that twist on a classic.

BLUEBERRY MARGARITA

¼ cup fresh blueberries

1 oz. margarita mix

4 oz. anejo tequila

3 or 4 dashes orange bitters

Rub the rims of 2 rocks glasses with lime and roll in coarse salt. Add ice to each glass.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the blueberries with the margarita mix until the berries are pulverized. Add the tequila and bitters and a handful of ice. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into the 2 glasses. Garnish with a few speared berries.

This one not only quenches a hearty thirst and replenishes the body’s salt – it adds the antioxidant quality of blueberries!

It’s a funny thing about summer heat – we often crave cold and refreshing, but some of us (me included) can also simultaneously crave hot and spicy. This recipe solves that dilemma deliciously.

BLACK GRAPE & CHILI MARGARITA

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. sugar

2 oz. fresh lime juice

4 oz. Concord grape juice

3 oz. reposado tequila

1-½. oz triple sec

1 small serrano pepper, very thinly sliced

In a small bowl, mix the chili powder with the salt and sugar. Moisten the outer rim of two rocks glasses with a lime wedge and dip the rims in the chili salt to coat.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the grape juice, tequila, lime juice, triple sec and 4 slices of pepper and shake well.

Strain mixture into 2 ice-filled rimmed glasses. Garnish with a few black grapes and a serrano slice.

Whew! Both refreshing and invigorating – just don’t eat the serrano.

Like most folks these days we’ve been enjoying most meals at home, with the occasional takeout from a local restaurant. We did venture out to Golden Isles Olive Oil to bid local musician extraordinaire Michael Hulett farewell for the summer. We socially distanced outside in the shady (thank goodness) parking lot and enjoyed some great entertainment – and an incredible treat that is now numero uno on my appetizer list. The Blistered Olives are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine, a soft drink, sparkling water, anything. These epicurean delights are gorgonzola-stuffed Queen olives that are “blistered” under the broiler and served piping hot with a French roll. They are SO good. My only regret is that I didn’t discover them sooner.

We also travelled over to Brunswick to the official grand opening of Silver Bluff Brewing. Everyone was maintaining a safe distance and the beer was excellent. Hats off to Chris Moline and the other visionaries who conceived and brought to fruition this terrific addition to the ‘wick!

If I need a perfect hors d’oeuvre my next (whenever it might be) gathering, I’m going to keep those olives in mind. Maybe a large to-go order? And they would be great with this sangria that I watched the Today show folks whip up last week.

MIXED BERRY SANGRIA

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 cup raspberries

1 cup blueberries

1 cup Smirnoff Red, White, & Berry vodka

¼ cup St-Germaine

1 bottle Sauvignon blanc wine

12 oz. can berry sparkling water

Place everything, except sparkling water, in a large pitcher. Stir to mix well. Place in refrigerator for several hours.

When ready to serve, add a few large ice cubes and stir in the sparkling water (I used LaCroix Berry). Pour into individual cups. Guaranteed to hydrate a crowd.

If you aren’t ready to host a gathering yet, here’s an idea. Fill a Mason jar with this stuff and drop off at a neighbor’s house. Maybe you could share a toast on ZOOM! If you do get those olives you could share those too (but I bet you don’t).