Tag Archives: summer days

What’s the Best Summer Beverage in this Heat?

summer spritzer

The simplest spritzer to help keep you cool in this heat.

It’s summer. It’s hot, even in the evening. You have friends coming over and no one wants red wine. Even rosé just doesn’t seem cold enough. What to do? What to serve?

Spritzers are a great summer beverage for a group at any time of year but when the temperatures rise they are especially good. Depending upon who you ask there are as many variations and nuances as the number of people in the conversation.

Some who are more cocktail aficionados might have definite opinions as to what is a ‘real’ spritzer. They could say that it is a combination of any Prosecco with the addition of an aperitivo (think Aperol or Campari), served over a lot of ice with a dash of club soda and a twist of some citrus or perhaps an olive. There’s even one that would be better for when the weather cools down that uses a very dry Spanish style hard cider instead of the Prosecco and Amaro instead of the aperitivo. Of course, there is the option of serving an Aperol Spritz (found all over Italy and for some the only way to drink them) which is 3oz of Prosecco/2oz of Aperol and a splash of club soda all served over a glass filled with ice. There are even recipes using super chilled white wine and club soda or ginger ale or any lemon-lime soda (which of course will completely change the taste of the wine – which might actually be your goal).

You can use sparkling water (water that is naturally carbonated and comes from springs or wells with all the bubbles already in it) or seltzer (plain water than has been artificially carbonated and contains no added minerals to enhance the flavor) or club soda which does contain added minerals which gives it a slightly saltier taste with a bit more tang. But, do NOT use tonic water for a spritzer. Tonic water is artificially carbonated and contains minerals like club soda but with one very big difference. Tonic water contains quinine which changes the flavor and makes it the perfect partner for gin-friendly cocktails. Also, tonic water does contain sugar which means it will add calories to your beverage.

I guess you’d say my tastes for a summer beverage in the heat run to simplicity. When it’s this hot outside and an ice-cold glass of rosé sounds like it would be almost right, I know just the recipe to make that glass perfect. I simply fill my wine glass about 2/3 the way up with ice, pour in my favorite rosé about 2/3 the way up the glass and then top it all off with a fun club soda I just picked up at the market. This drink is perfect for a serve yourself bar and the little glass bottles of club soda look fabulous on your beverage station!

So, for your next get together for a group this summer or even just for yourself after a long work day try my simple recipe for a spritzer – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Summer spritzer

In the picture

Recipe for Summer Punch: Champagne, Fruit, and Fun Ice

summer punch feature

An adult drink with champagne that only looks fruity sweet (it isn’t).

It’s summer and that means outdoor or indoor fun with friends and family and usually in a group.  I always recommend greeting your guests with an adult beverage when they arrive.  A summer punch sets the tone for the party and lets everyone know that you want them to have a great time.

The easiest way to serve an adult summer punch to a group (with very little effort from you-the host) is with a batch cocktail or fun punch.  Punch can be colorful and is definitely made ahead of your guests’ arrival which takes a lot of the stress out of making sure that first glass of ‘welcome’ is ready when they walk through the door.

Set up a beverage area with the punch bowl, cups or small multi-colored glasses and, of course, napkins.  Add flowers and you’ve created a focal point for the party and a place where everyone can simply serve themselves and you can focus on food or other aspects of the party and not on making cocktails.

summer punch prepOne of the downfalls of most punches is that they are very sweet.  This recipe for Champagne Punch with Brandy from epicurious is not. The addition of plenty of citrus – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit juice and fresh mint combats any sweetness in the mix.

Even though you use cold juice and cold champagne the big bowl of punch will never stay as cold as you want it to be for the whole party.  The rule is (even if you are having only a single drink) that the larger the ice cube the slower it will melt.  It will keep your beverage, and in this case the punch, cold longer without diluting it.

Instead of just adding the cut citrus to the entire bowl of punch, I used some of the cut fruit in the mini-bundt cake molds that I was using for the large ice shapes.  The more interesting the shape of the ice the more fun your punch will look.  I found my mini bundt mold from Nordic Ware at Williams-Sonoma.  I wanted the cubes large enough to melt as slowly as possible and still not worry that they would fit into my punch bowl.  After the molds are frozen solid simply run warm water on the OUTSIDE of the mold and the ice will release easily.

The great thing about this punch is that you can make a second pitcher of the juice mixture (no bubbles yet) to make the ice molds.  This absolutely insures that when the ice eventually melts (and it will) that your summer punch will not be diluted.  Alcohol will not freeze completely so do not add champagne to anything that you want to freeze solid.

Pour the fruit punch mixture into your punch bowl, add some of the cut fruit, add the beautiful ice and at the last minute before your guests arrive add the champagne.  Now you’re ready for a party!

Two Drink Recipes, for a Nice Summer Afternoon Spritz

Enjoy an afternoon wine spriz

Bringing you 2 fabulous spritz drinks to help you keep cool during California’s dog days of summer-early fall.

It’s not the end of summer in California until we endure those final “dog days” through early fall. It’ll be boiling here until Halloween! Sad for most kids because they’ve started school by now. Nice for us adults because we can sneak a dip into the pool with a nice spritzer before the kids get home from school!

When entertaining at home, we look for smooth, refreshing adult beverages for our guests. The easiest and most refreshing are the spritzes; a simple combination of wine (sparkling or not) and soda.  You can add liquors or bitters to alter the flavors. They’re really the easiest of cocktails to mix. You can watch me mix the Aperol Spritz here on my video.

Fun fact: Why are the last of the hottest days of the year called “dog days”?

Answer: Because at that time of the year, the constellation Canis Major (the big dog) starts appearing in the sky. The brightest star in that constellation is Sirius, which in Latin means dog – thus, the star is known as the dog star.

And I thought that it was just because dogs tend to lay about and snooze during the day when it’s hottest. I’ll figure out how to work this bit of trivia into my next cocktail patio party when I serve these simple and refreshing drinks. As always, use the largest ice cubes you can to avoid diluting the drinks.

I’ll start with the Aperol spritz I found on Epicurious.com.

If you love the taste of grapefruit and are excited about a drink that blends the taste of orange and some bubbly, then you’ll really enjoy this drink. It’s become one of my most favorite—especially during those hot “dog days.”

Pour into a large wine glass filled with large rocks of ice, and stir:

  • 2 ounces of Aperol (an Italian apéritif with a complex orange flavor).
  • 2 ounces of sparkling white wine (I use Valdo Prosecco, extra dry in my video)
  • 1 ounce of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (prefer “ruby red” variety).
  • A “splash” of soda water to taste.
  • ½ Grapefruit wheel as garnish (also “ruby red”).

Maybe citrus isn’t your flavor. That’s okay. Here’s another recipe from Epicurious that’s a bit sweeter. The base is the French liqueur St. Germain, made from elderflower. So, prepare for some floral brightness from this spritz.

Pour into a large wine glass filled with large rocks of ice, stir gently:

  • 4 ounces of sparkling white wine (again, I suggest Valdo Prosecco, extra dry)
  • 1½ ounces St. Germain liqueur
  • Splash of club soda to taste
  • A sprig of fresh cut lavender to garnish

Serving tip: I prefer serving these drinks in large stemless wine glasses. There’s a lot of liquid and ice here, and the drink might be a little top heavy if you try to mix and serve these spritzes in stemware. Either drink goes well with cold cut fruit to fight off the heat of the afternoon. Makes me think of sitting back on a balcony, enjoying a sunset overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice with friends.

Enjoy!