Balmy summertime evenings are ideal for cool, refreshing cocktails and parties seem to materialize whenever you make them. Maybe it is because they are such fun! The next time you have a few friends over, put on some reggae or calypso music and try one or two of these drinks. You can make them ahead (leave out the ice until ready to serve) and have them ready when your guests arrive.
Mojitos (moh-hee-toes) originated in Cuba and it is easy to understand why they were Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail. Blending the cooling flavors of lime and mint with the natural warmth of rum creates an intoxicating concoction. I can just see him sipping one on his veranda, enjoying the cooling ocean breezes. The combination of lime and mint were originally used to help mask the harshness of coarsely made rum. I have always liked the flavors of ginger and lime together, so I use a ginger-infused simple syrup to sweeten my mojitos. Simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water. It easily mixes into cold liquids, so is preferred to granulated sugar when making iced tea or cocktails.
Every time I have a Hurricane it is like I am back in New Orleans, enjoying Mardi Gras at Pat O’Brien’s. It gets its name from the shape of the glass it is traditionally served in. It was first created in the 1940’s and has been a New Orleans institution ever since. Sweet and fruity, it goes down far too easily, and can catch you off guard if you aren’t careful. Many a tough man has gone down swinging with too many Hurricanes! One of my personal favorites, especially in the heat of summer, is a refreshing adult Fruit Punch. I like to combine pineapple, cranberry and orange juices together with vodka, but you could use any of your favorite fruit juices. You can mix the juices ahead and add the vodka to taste as you mix individual drinks for your guests.
A less sweet and more cultured cocktail is the Pomegranate Martini. A favorite of Oprah Winfrey, this elegant drink is fun to serve at holiday parties. Light pink and served in a frosted martini glass, everyone feels like a millionaire when they are sipping one. All of these cocktails can be made without alcohol if you prefer. Without alcohol they are known as Mock-tails!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Make a large batch of plain simple syrup and keep in the refrigerator. When you want to create a unique flavor, pour some syrup into a saucepan and add a piece of ginger, a cinnamon stick, or other seasoning ingredient. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Once cool, remove your additions and use to sweeten and flavor cocktails, teas, desserts, etc.
- 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves
- 1 to 2 tbsp ginger-infused simple syrup
- Juice of 1 lime
- Ice cubes
- 1 oz rum Sparkling water
- 1 sprig fresh mint, for garnish
- Slice of fresh lime, for garnish
- In a cocktail glass, muddle (lightly bruise) mint leaves with simple syrup and lime juice, using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Muddling releases the essential oils in the mint leaves. Stir in the rum. Add ice and with fill glass carbonated water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, lime slice and serve with a long straw.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled ginger
- In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar; add piece of ginger. Bring to a boil and cook until liquid becomes clear and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard ginger and store in refrigerator.
- Yield: about 2 cups
- NOTE: If you want to make plain simple syrup, leave out ginger.
- 1/4 oz pomegranate concentrate, thawed
- 1 oz passion fruit concentrate, thawed
- 1-1/2 oz light rum
- 1 oz sweet and sour
- 1 tbsp simple syrup or superfine sugar
- Ice cubes
- Carbonated water
- Crushed ice (for glasses)
- Lime wedge or slice
- In a cocktail shaker, combine ingredients with ice. Shake vigorously and pour strained mixture into a tall, slender glass filled halfway with crushed ice. Fill glass with carbonated water, stir and garnish with lime.
- 4 cups pineapple juice
- 3 cups cranberry juice
- 1 (6 oz) can orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups high-quality vodka
- 2 cups cold ginger ale, optional
- Crushed ice
- Pineapple spears and orange slices for garnish
- In a large pitcher, combine pineapple and cranberry juices with orange juice concentrate. Whisk until concentrate has dissolved. Stir in water, vodka, and ginger ale (if using). Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with pineapple spears or orange slices.
- Yield: about 12 cups
- 1-1/2 cups pomegranate juice
- 2 oz Absolute Citron vodka
- 1 oz Cointreau
- Cup of ice
- Splash of sparkling water
- Squeeze of lemon
- Lime wedge or pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional
- Shake pomegranate juice, vodka, Cointreau, ice, sparking water, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and strain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with lime wedge or pomegranate seeds if desired.
- Yield: 2 cocktails