Two summers ago (yes, they haven't fired me yet after over two years ... shhh) I recommended a commenter's favorite blueberry vodka/Simply Limeade concoction. Last year I was pushing the Perfect Mule, while Nicki suggested anything with St. Germaine in it.
This year, I'm all about the classic cocktails. Now that I discovered that I can buy good ginger beer at my local Harris Teeter, I can now make my own Moscow Mules or even a rummy Dark 'n Stormy at home. If you're looking for a a professionally-mixed version of these cocktails, I suggest Holland House or the Oak Bar at the Hermitage Hotel for some kickin' Mules and Rumba for a great Dark 'n Stormy.
The hot bite of real Jamaican ginger forces your metabolism to make a quick "fight or flight" decision that really heightens your awareness of the flavors of the cocktails. These two are perfect for taking the edge off a sweaty day's work as you do some serious porch sittin'.
Authentic Moscow Mules are served in copper mugs that help keep your drink cold while you sip on it. If you don't have access to a mule mug, just pour it over rocks in an old fashioned glass. Here's a nice recipe from the recently retired Oprah:
1 ounce vodka
1 tsp. sugar syrup
Fresh lime juice
1/2 cup ginger beer
1 sprig fresh mint
1 slice of lime
In a copper mug, pour vodka over ice. Add sugar syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.
YOU get and Mule and YOU get a Mule and YOU get a Mule!
Gosling's Rum actually owns the copyright on Dark n' Stormys, and they provide both a great rum and the best ginger beer to make one. They're even kind enough to provide you with a recipe and tutorial:
To a tall glass filled with ice, add 1.5 ounces Gosling's Black Seal Rum and top with Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge (optional).
My absolute favorite summer cocktail is an old favorite that I actually tasted for the first time during a recent visit to Atlanta for the Food & Wine Festival.
Two different bartenders were pushing their versions of a Brown Derby, named after the famous Los Angeles restaurant and bar located on Wilshire Boulevard. I love the way the burn of the bourbon interacts with the sweetness of the honey and the sour of the grapefruit juice. I imagine if you were pressed for time, you could use some of the new ubiquitous Jack Daniel Honey instead of making the honey syrup. But that's just damned lazy for a cocktail that only has four ingredients including water.
Classically, a Brown Derby is served in a Champagne coupe, a shallow, wide glass that was legendarily designed after the shape of Marie Antoinette's breast. I'm not kidding. Google it. Here's a typical recipe from the LA, the Los Angeles Times Magazine:
The Brown Derby
1 ounce Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce clover-honey syrup (1 part water, 1 part clover honey)
In tin-on-tin shaker, add freshly squeezed grapefruit, then honey and bourbon; shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass (ideally, a 5½-ounce Champagne coupe).
Frequent Bites commenter Hungry Hippo also chimed in with a summer suggestion of a quenching cocktail with her elevated version of the traditional "Hop, Skip and Go Naked." To the traditional mix of lemonade, limeade, vodka, sprite and a beer for some malty fizz, HH adds some brewed Tazo Ginger tea for that acerbic zing.
Since this is traditionally brewed in garbage can-sized quantities, specific recipes are all over the board. I did notice that if you enter "1" in the # of servings box of this recipe scale, the quantities are:
1 bag ice
1 can limeade
1 can lemonade
2 liters Sprite soda
1/2 gal vodka
1 case beer
I don't know about you, but I think that's a helluva serving.
My final offering comes to us from the makers of Finlandia and Chambord. I've made this one a few times at home and it definitely warrants keeping a bottle of that precious blackberry elixir in your freezer.
1 1/2 ounces Finlandia Vodka
1/2 ounce Chambord Liqueur
3 ounces lemonade
Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
So what about you Bitesters? What's cooling you poolside this summer?