Though there certainly aren’t any cocktails out there that should be actively avoided during the summer (though I’m on the wagon these days so I’m avoiding them all), you’re probably less likely to want to stretch out on a lounge chair at to the pool delicately sipping on a hot buttered rum.
So here come ten cocktails that tie in beautifully with the summer season. Some are sweet, some are fizzy, some contain amazing liqueurs you should be familiar with, and some will just look damn good in your hand as the sun sets over your balcony every night between now and September. Happy summer, everyone!
Cuba is the birthplace of the Mojito, although the exact origin of this classic cocktail is the subject of debate. One story traces the Mojito to a similar 19th century drink known as “El Draque”, after Francis Drake. It was made initially with tafia/aguardiente, a primitive predecessor of rum, but rum was used as soon as it became widely available to the British (ca. 1650). Mint, lime and sugar were also helpful in hiding the harsh taste of this spirit. While this drink was not called a Mojito at this time, it was still the original combination of these ingredients.
Some historians contend that African slaves who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century were instrumental in the cocktail’s origin. Guarapo, the sugar cane juice often used in Mojitos, was a popular drink amongst the slaves who helped coin the name of the sweet nectar.
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
- 2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1 1/2 ounces white rum
- 1/2 cup club soda
Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.
The Manhattan is one of the few cocktails that never seems to go out of style. As a boy, I remember them being enjoyed by my parents and their friends. And as an adult they are regularly ordered at the bars by my own contemporaries.
“Contemporaries” is my fancy way of referring to Laura and Sean: my hag and my mentor.
Laura and Sean were the ones who ordered me my very first Manhattan a few years back at Martuni’s, a slender tavern and piano bar wrapped around the corner of Valencia and Market Streets in San Francisco. I first found the Manhattan’s sweetness slightly off-putting, but was eventually won over by it’s smooth finish and gentle kick.
The Classic Manhattan
1 1/2 to 2 ounces quality bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry or lemon twist (or in my case, both)
Add bourbon, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish appropriately.