1. Don’t shy away from the Shandy
You may have noticed a new push on bottled shandies at your favorite watering hole, but that’s just the tip of the Beer cocktails trend. Beyond car bombs and snakebites, and lemonade and ginger beer combos, we’ve noticed creations blending top-quality micro brews with ingredients from maple syrup, chocolate bitters and whiskey, to Cointreau, tequila, ginger, lime and chili pepper to whipped cream, sherry and root liqueur. One take on the Old Fashioned by Virtue Feed & Grain of Alexandra, Va. (as reported by Bon Appetit earlier this year) called a Shock Me combines a quarter cup of brown ale with two tablespoons of bourbon, a teaspoon each of Southern Comfort and pure maple syrup. Wowza.
2. Coconut Lime Mimosas
Break up the brunch monotony. Coconut water (e.g. vitacoco.com) is the potassium rich, low-cal, low-fat clear liquid found inside coconuts — not to be confused with coconut milk. Its recent surge in popularity has resulted in a few recipes that should be fun to try this summer, like this one we saw in May’s Veg News for Coconut-Lime Mimosas. The recipe calls for four cups of coconut water and one cup of lime juice to every one bottle of champagne at a 50/50 ratio to taste.
3. New vocabulary word: Spodee
Fashioned after Depression-era hooch that blended country wine with moonshine and herbs and spices, Spodee (spodeewine.com) is a new fortified wine (18 percent alcohol) by the creator of Hendricks Gin sold in a cute 500L milk bottle at approximately $8.95. It’s meant to be mixed — try it with cola, OJ and orange soda or add it to a creamy coffee drink — but served solo on ice. It’s like sipping cold liquid Raisinets. A recent report by Zagat cited one chef’s use of Spodee in a mole sauce — oh yeah! Currently available only in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Spodee was stocked in Lackawanna County at the South Side/Meadow Avenue and the Clarks Summit super Wine and Spirit state stores when we checked last week.
4. New twist on an old classic
We found a recipe for a blood orange whiskey sour with mint at The Talking Kitchen that made our mouth water just typing about it. The recipe starts with mint muddled with powdered sugar and lime topped by ice, as much whiskey as you can handle, and blood orange juice (fresh squeezed, preferred) to top it off. Blogger Lauren Figueroa describes it as “strong enough for a man, pink enough for a woman.”
5. New twist on a new classic
Mojitos were all the rage a few summer ago and they’ve never stuck around to prove they’re more potent than a passing fad. We found a recipe for a pitcher friendly Iced Green Tea Mojito at skinnytaste.com we’re dying to try. And the rum, of course, is optional. One drink calls for a tablespoon of lime juice, four large mint leaves plus garnish, four baby arugula leaves, two teaspoons of raw sugar muddled in a tall Collins glass topped with one half cup of chilled, brewed green tea, and an ounce of white rum.
6. Refreshingly alcohol free
Non-alcoholic cocktails are more popular than ever, especially for those cutting every calorie they can. An Elderflower Sparkler we found online at Cooking Channel (courtesy of Kelsey Nixon) starts with chunks of pink grapefruit in the bottom of a chilled glass, topped with a teaspoon of elderflower syrup, reserved grapefruit juice, and sparkling water.
7. Cocktails aren’t just for girls.
Esquire pitched some surprising cocktails for summer 2012 in a recent trend tracking (or setting?) article “The Summer Drinks for Right Now,” including McKittrick’s scotch punch made with Madeira wine and dry orange curaco, a couple of Negronis made with Dorothy Parker Gin, and a spiced rum Mai Tai garnished with an orchid. In other words, don’t be afraid to try something bold and unexpected.
8. Smells like summer
Watermelon margaritas are a lower calorie choice (approx, 105 calories / glass) thanks to the fruit’s natural sweetness. Blend 3/12 cups with ½ cup of tequila, only a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of triple sec. Add lime juice to taste and garnish with watermelon balls.
9. Why not make your own Horchata?
Never thought to make this rice and almond milk drink until we stumbled across a recipe at Imbibe magazine that spelled it all out. Pulverized rice and almonds left to sit overnight with cinnamon and lime zest are simply blended with water and then strained through cheesecloth before sweetened to taste. Keeps for several days in the fridge. www.imbibemagazine.com/horchata
10. Exotic and fruity
Another new favorite (at least in theory) from Imbibe is the East Aspen Heights. Flavored with herb-infused simple syrup (sage and fennel!), this cocktail blends muddled blackberries and pureed pear with gin, lemon juice, and yellow Chartreuse. Served on the rocks and garnished with sage leaves.