diy cocktails

DIY Craft Cocktails: Hello, summer drinks

summer drinks

I maintain that making cocktails should be as spontaneous and improvisational as regular cooking. This is particularly true during the height of summer, when backyard gardens and farmers markets are producing an almost overwhelming amount of vegetables and fruit.


For example, there are few things as pleasant as drinking cold Vinho Verde in a friend's backyard, then plucking a couple fresh raspberries and dropping them into your glass. (Berries can also be frozen and later used as ice cubes in cocktails throughout the summer.) Additionally, just-picked tomatoes (roughly chopped and salted) form the base of a spectacular Bloody Mary, one that can be garnished with a sliver of fresh cucumber.


Summer drinks should be refreshing, easy, and made with ingredients you already have on hand. The following recipes are for drinks I've been enjoying this summer, and are basic guidelines/suggestions that can be adapted to whatever is available.

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DIY Craft Cocktails: Mixing Cocktails with Herbs

I ran into a problem last summer: too many herbs were coming out of my garden, so many that I couldn't keep up with them. The easy way to deal with this overflow would've been to make large batches of pesto and tabbouleh, or other variations on crushed-herb sauces or greens-and-grains salads. I did my best, but I still had a surplus. By the end of the growing season, I had to cut back armfuls of sorrel, thai basil, lemon thyme, curry, and others. All these great flavors (for which I had so many plans last May), and I ended up pitching them into the compost bin. It was silly: what was the point of nurturing these plants out of the dirt if I was only going to transform them back into dirt in a few months?


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DIY Craft Cocktails: Infused (Flavored) Liquors

I maintain that there's a ridiculous secret lurking underneath the craft cocktail movement: as complicated as some of these cocktails can get, it's actually almost impossible to make a bad drink. As my instructor said on day one of bar-tending school: the most important ingredient is ice; you can never have enough. (This instructor was a guru and mentor to me years ago, a person who had devoted his adult life to making drinks. Actually, he's now more of a cautionary tale than anything, but I'll keep the practical knowledge he imparted.) My experience has proved that all you need to do is get some liquor cold, mix in complementary flavors, serve immediately, and a decent drink is inevitable.


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