This past Wednesday, the sun was high in the sky and beat down warm rays on our house. Looking much like the American Gothic painting, my husband and I pulled out the rakes, shovels, and giant brown paper bags and proceeded to rake up last year’s leaves, uproot dandelions, and trim back a ferocious rose bush. This is all in preparation for garden beds of herbs, fruits and veggies that will undoubtedly end up meticulously muddled in some whimsical cocktail. Using fresh ingredients in cocktails elevates them, making them extra tasty. Strawberries, mint, basil, cucumbers… They’ll all end up mixed with some highly volatile spirit.
2 oz. Spicy Stoli
1 oz. Lime
½ oz. Simple Syrup
Muddle all ingredients together and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Then, garnish with a strawberry slice and a slice of jalapeno.
Grapefruit Cucumber Cooler
¼ English Cucumber – Sliced Thin
2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
4 oz. Stiegl Grapefruit Radler
Muddle most of the cucumber in a pint glass and add gin. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Add ice and cucumber-infused gin to a Collins glass. Then, top with Grapefruit Radler and stir gently. Garnish with a cucumber wheel.
Strawberry Basil Margaritas: Makes 1 pitcher or about 8 servings
1 Can (12 ounces) Frozen Limeade Concentrate
10 Strawberries (12 if you’re using smaller ones from the farmer’s market or your backyard)
8 Basil Leaves
2 to 2 1/2 Cups Sauza Silver Tequila
Empty the limeade concentrate into a pitcher. Add 2 1/2 cans of water and 1 1/2 (18 ounces or 2 1/4 cups) cans of tequila.
Hull the strawberries, slice lengthwise, and add to the pitcher. Crumple the basil a little in your hands (this will help the basil flavor release into the drink), and add it to the pitcher. Place the pitcher, covered, in the fridge overnight, or for at least four hours.
When you remove the pitcher from the fridge, your margaritas will be a pale, sunset-colored pink.
1.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice
4-5 Basil Leaves
Brut Champagne or Cava, Chilled
Add the basil and lemon juice to your shaker and muddle. Add Lillet and ice. Shake and strain into a flute. Top with champagne.
Rosy Raspberry Spritzer: Makes 4 servings
¼ Cup Raspberries
1 Tablespoon Plus 1 Teaspoon Superfine Sugar
3/4 Teaspoon Rose Water
5 Cups Chilled Sparkling Rosé Wine
Lightly crush raspberries with sugar and rose water. Divide among 4 glasses. Stir in sparkling wine.
All of these light, spritzy cocktails use ingredients picked right from your garden! What other cocktails do you like to make with fresh-picked ingredients? Tweet me your answers at @Ninoswineexpert.