11 Cocktails to Serve This Summer!

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.

The Mojito

  • 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.

Next: The Moscow Mule

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String of Pearls Cocktail (Vodka, Creme de Cacao, Half and Half, and a Hershey’s Kiss)


The String of Pearls is a sweet, smooth, dare my drinking friends say “cozy” after-dinner drink to serve on a night you’re staying in with a movie on TCM. They also might fit alongside the Sidecar, Whiskey Sour and Horse’s Neck at a 1940’s Prohibition-themed party. The creme de cacao and the half-and-half pretty much sweep any alcoholic bite right out of the glass, so be careful. They go down fast.

Recipe for a String of Pearls Cocktail Click Here

Ten Cocktails to Serve Before Labor Day


Though there certainly aren’t any cocktails out there that should be actively avoided during the summer, you’re probably less likely to want to stretch out on a lounge chair next to the pool sipping on a hot buttered rum.

So here come ten cocktails that tie in beautifully with the season. Some are sweet, some are fizzy, some contain some 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.

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.

Next: The Moscow Mule
Continue Reading

The French Gimlet

Monday was officially the first day of summer, and here’s the perfect cocktail to conjure up for celebrating the season’s arrival.  It boasts a citrusy aroma without coming off as “fruity,” and its sweetness offsets the alcohol taste without overwhelming it, so with each sip you’re presented with a gentle reminder that your beverage does, in fact, contain spirits.

But the most appealing part of a French Gimlet is the story of how one of its ingredients – the sweetly floral liqueur called St-Germain – makes its way to store shelves.  Let us take a moment to pay tribute the small tribe of French elderberry-picking, bicycle-riding farmers in the French Alps that make St-Germain possible. Continue reading “The French Gimlet” »

The Vesper


The Vesper is a martini made famous by author Ian Fleming and his fictional creation, James Bond, in the 1953 (and very first) James Bond book, Casino Royale.

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Vesper Lynd is Bond’s very first female interest, and arguably the woman he falls for harder than any who came after.  In the novel, Bond eventually names his prized drink after her, but their love is not to last.  Harboring her status as a double-agent, Vesper eventually realizes her traitorous acts will spell doom to any future she and agent 007 could have, and kills herself, leaving behind a note admitting her guilt, a broken and profoundly stoic lover, and one hell of a hotly-named cocktail

Continue reading “The Vesper” »

Vodka Martini


Did you know that the notorious “three-martini lunch” has its own wikipedia page with and in-depth explanation along with suggested reasons for its unfortunate demise (In case you’re curious, Jimmy Carter was partly to blame)?  Here’s a small sample:

The three-martini lunch is a term used in the United States to describe a leisurely, indulgent lunch enjoyed by businessmen or executives. It refers to a common belief that many businessmen have enough leisure time and wherewithal to consume more than one martini during the work day. Steaks or lobster are sometimes considered a staple of these lunches.

I am pretty sure I myself do not possess the wherewithal to consume three martinis during the work day, but I’d sure love to work for a company that would allow me to attempt the experiment.  Maybe someday I’ll be that lucky.  In the meantime, I will have to restrain myself to enjoying my absolute favorite alcoholic beverage during evening leisure time, in my favorite reading chair, my Ultra Lounge music collection playing out of my iDock, fat ass cat at my feet, some juicy gourmet burgers cooking up in the kitchen, and MG by my side, watching back video of his animated monkey puppet. (no, that is not a euphemism).

Continue reading “Vodka Martini” »

Harvey Wallbanger


Let’s hear it for Harvey!

This is a drink I’ve been curious about all my life. If my parents weren’t drinking it in the seventies, they were certainly referencing it in conversation as a popular beverage among the kings and queens of the shag carpet set. It was brought up on Match Game routinely. And remember that character actor on Bewitched? The one who played the drunk who was always settled at the bar where Darrin, Larry and their important client would go to lunch as Samantha popped in surreptitiously to investigate and then pop out just as quickly – leaving him to double-take, eye the bottom of his glass questionably and then sputter, “Hey Floyd… another Harvey Wallbanger!”

This drink is fabled in my consciousness. A litany of childhood pop culture references, a sunshiney-day disposition, and one of the best hedonistic names of all time!

The legend of the naming of the Harvey Wallbanger is questionable. The story that, if not true, is certainly the most circulated centers on a Manhattan Beach surfer named Harvey who loved to add Galliano to his screwdriver (which, sadly, is all a Harvey Wallbanger is – oj, vodka and a little Galliano). Poor old Harvey had one too many one night and went slamming into a couple walls on his way out of the bar. True or not, the story’s quirky and disreputable tone is a perfect match for the drink name.

Galliano is a sweet, vanilla-ish liquer named after Giuseppe Galliano, an officer in the Italian Army during the first Italo-Ethiopian War (1895-1896). I possess no Collins glass, which is the glass you’re supposed to serve this in, but I’m sure the Bewitched town drunk wouldn’t have turned down a Wallbanger in a Pilsner beer glass, so why should anyone else mind?

  • one ounce vodka
  • four ounces orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce of Galliano

Pour vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass filled with ice.  Stir, and then float the Galiano over the top.  “Floating” is also known as “layering” and works like this: pour Galliano into the drink over the back of a bar spoon so as to keep it at the top on its own separate layer (so obviously don’t stir the drink once the Galliano is present). It will remain separate from the rest of the drink because of the difference in density and sugar content.

Arguments about whether or not to garnish the drink abound, but I went ahead and did it. A great sweet, tangy morning or mid-day beverage, this little Wallbanger is.

And for the Bewtiched purists out there… that “town drunk” who also turned up at local parks, local jails and random bus stops on the show was played by Dick Wilson, better known to America as “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” pitch man, Mister Whipple.

String of Pearls


This is a sweet, smooth, dare I say “cozy” after-dinner drink to serve on a night you’re staying in with a movie on the big screen TV.  They also might fit alongside the Sidecar, Whiskey Sour and Horse’s Neck at a 1940’s Prohibition-themed party. The creme de cacao and the half-and-half pretty much sweep any alcoholic bite right out of the glass, so be careful.  They go down fast.

I have made this drink a couple times now for MG.  Not sure how he feels about the actual drink, but he’s certainly loving that I’ve regularly got bags of Hershey almond kisses in the kitchen cupboard.

  • 1 1/2 cups of cracked ice or 6 ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 ounce of half and half
  • 1 chocolate kiss or chocolate-covered coffee bean
  • SERVES ONE

Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice and then add the vodka, creme de cacao and half-and-half.  Shake vigorously to blend and chill

Place the chocolate kiss in the bottom of a chilled martini glass.  Strain the mixture into the glass and serve