In the Spirit

Summer is almost here, and I decree it is time to start thinking of ice-cold, heat-beating cocktails. Oh sure, you can ice down a six-pack ... nothing wrong with that. But, I’m thinking maybe a few slightly more creative concoctions to whip up when those inevitable island guests arrive.

It’s a fact that virtually anything cold tastes pretty good after a day on the beach or out on a boat. But did you ever consider why some beverages are just better as thirst quenchers? First, let’s think fruit. Products like Gatorade and libations such as lemonade are sure-fire winners on a hot summer day. And both rely on a tart and sweet combination of citrus and sugar. Alcoholic drinks that include sour mix accomplish the same thing: think Margaritas, daiquiris and — with the addition of cranberry — the Cosmopolitan. More complex creations such as the Pimm’s Cup often include a whole cornucopia of fruits, and even a vegetable: the cooling cucumber.

Anything sparkling is also an immediate refresher. I’ve lately been consuming an inordinate amount of sparkling water. I got accustomed to the stuff while vacationing in Italy. You’re offered bottled water, still or sparkling, at every meal. I quickly developed a love for San Pellegrino, an Italian mineral water that really hit the spot after a day of hiking or sightseeing. Domestically, and for economic reasons, I often choose Deer Park, a great spring water that comes in lemon and mandarin orange flavors. No calories or sweeteners, either.

How did I get off on a water tangent? Geez … we’re supposed to be crafting some cocktails here.

As I was saying, the addition of bubbles to a drink seems to both liven it up and add to the cooling power. Add some champagne and gin to your basic sour mix and voila, you’ve created a French 75! Good old sangria is often enhanced not only by loads of fruit but with a splash of lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.

The bubbles just make it better.

I’ve got a couple of off-the-beaten-track sangrias for you to try coming up, but first, let’s loosen up with a classic daiquiri. This was said to be Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink, and he knew a thing or two about drinking (and writing, of course). Like his prose, this daiquiri recipe is simple, spare and undeniably elegant. (And frankly, I can’t picture Papa drinking from a coupe glass, with little finger politely extended, while slumped on a barstool in downtown Havana. So, use any glass you like!)

Classic Daiquiri

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

2 heaping tsp. of superfine sugar

2 oz. white rum

1 cup ice cubes (garnish)

1 lime wheel

In a cocktail shaker, shake the lime juice and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add rum and ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe class and float lime wheel on top.

Sweet Tea Sangria

1 750 ml bottle Sauvignon Blanc

4 cups sweet tea

¼ cup triple sec

2 cups frozen peaches

2 cups raspberries

Fresh mint (garnish)

In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients except mint. Stir well and refrigerate until well-chilled. To serve, pour into Mason jars filled with ice and garnish each with a mint sprig. This will taste even better if sipped in a rocking chair on a front porch while a fan overhead gently stirs the humid air. Drinking that daiquiri has influenced my writing. The Hemingway effect, I can only hope?

Iced Coffee Sangria

32 oz. iced coffee (I make an extra strong pot and dilute with ice cubes)

8 oz. tequila

4 oz. Cointreau

1 tsp. simple syrup

1 orange, sliced

1 lime sliced

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

Combine coffee, Cointreau, tequila and syrup in a large pitcher and mix well. Add fruit and refrigerate at least one hour. Pour into individual tumblers to serve.

Think of the sensation this would create at your next brunch! On the other hand, think how no one would leave and you’d be stuck entertaining your guests well into the afternoon. Oh well, you can always sneak off and whip yourself up another daiquiri.