With summer heat in full swing, we mixed five drinks for summer sipping that not only taste refreshing but contain ingredients that can actually refresh. This means plucking the finest fruits from the farmers’ market and combining them with little more than the absolute basics of the bar to drink in summer’s produce at its most intoxicating.
A low-key punch bowl in a pint glass, this colorful, fizzy treat is the least alcoholic option of the bunch. While that definitely has its place, don’t hesitate to spike it with a bit of vodka if you’re after something stronger.
3 oz Blackberry-Ginger Syrup, recipe follows
3 oz club soda
6 oz Czech-style pilsner
Large lemon wedge, ¼ of a medium-large lemon
Fill a pint glass half full with ice. Add the syrup, soda, and beer. Thoroughly squeeze the juice from the lemon wedge into the glass and serve.
2/3 cup fresh blackberries
½ cup sliced ginger
¾ cup natural cane sugar
¾ cup water
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook until the berries are soft and the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and discard solids.
Yield: 1 generous cup
(Liquid) Diamonds & (Cucumber) Pearls
More of a flourish than a recipe, this bit of lily-gilding is still a satisfying way to work your favorite summer foods into happy hour. We add frosty balls of cucumber (vegan pearls!) to a chilly glass of fizzy white Vinho Verde for a sunny afternoon indulgence, where the cooling cucumber helps to offset the tartness of the young wine. If you’re craving something with more depth for brunch or evening, use any sparkling wine you like.
Frozen cucumber balls from about 2 large cucumbers, instructions follow
1 bottle white Vinho Verde or sparkling white wine
Add 3 frozen cucumber balls to a flute and top with wine.
To make the frozen cucumber balls, scoop balls from a peeled cucumber with a small melon baller, avoiding the seedy middle as much as possible (or look for seedless variety). Lay on a cookie sheet in a single layer without touching and freeze for several hours (overnight or during business hours). Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container for longer storage.
Yield: 8-10 balls per 1 large cucumber
Lighten up a Bloody Maria by substituting the heavy tomato puree with fresh tomato water and an herbal snap from cilantro. Don’t be fooled, this little number still offers plenty of kick from cold infusing the tomato water with fresh jalapeno. Plus, tequila.
2 sprigs cilantro, long stems removed
4 oz Spicy Tomato Water, recipe follows
2 oz tequila
Muddle the cilantro leaves in a rocks glass and add ice. Add the tomato water and tequila. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Spicy Tomato Water
1 ½ cup very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
2 slices fresh jalapeno, ¼-inch thick, from a small pepper (about ¾-1 inch in diameter)
Using a food processor or immersion blender, pulse the halved tomatoes until very loose but chunky, stopping short of pureed. Place the jalapeno slices in a bowl. Line a mesh sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and place over the bowl. Pour the broken tomatoes into the lined sieve, transfer to the fridge, and let sit 8 hours. Remove the jalapeno slices from the tomato water before use.
Yield: about 4 ounces
A fabulous way to enjoy whiskey in the warm months, here we tweak an existing bourbon cocktail by replacing melon liqueur with orange liqueur and adding fresh melon juice. The farmers’ market tends to offer lots of melon varieties. Any meaty, assertive variety (such as canary, honeydew, or cantaloupe) will do.
1 oz (about 1 2-inch piece) melon
½ oz lime juice
2 tsp natural cane sugar
2 oz bourbon
½ oz Cointreau or other light orange liqueur
½ oz club soda
Muddle the melon and press through a fine mesh sieve with the back of a spoon. Add lime juice and sugar to the melon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Fill a rocks glass with ice and add the fruit juices, bourbon, and liqueur. Top with club soda. Garnish with lime or additional melon with the rind scrubbed.
Peachy Thai Gin Fizz
A classic cocktail embellished with fresh peach juice, fragrant Thai basil, and rich coconut milk for body. Cheers!
1 small-medium very ripe peach (4-5 oz total weight), pitted and peeled
½ small lime, peeled
1 sprig fresh Thai basil (about 4 large leaves), plus more for garnish
1 tsp natural cane sugar
2 TBSP full-fat coconut milk
2 oz gin
4 oz club soda, chilled
In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the peach, lime, basil, and sugar. Add ice, coconut milk, and gin. Shake for 30 seconds, strain, and top with chilled club soda. Garnish with additional Thai basil.
Market Street Vegan makes vegan food in a nonvegan city. For free recipes and information available locally, visitmarketstreetvegan.com.
© Market Street Vegan, 2013. Photos by Market Street Vegan.