Every time summer nears its end in Seattle I think, How did the endless days of sun fade so quickly? Wasn’t it just light at eleven o’clock at night a few days ago? And now you’re telling me that fall is about to start, and soon winter will be here, with its dreary days of gray?
These melancholy and probably over-dramatic thoughts last for about five minutes. Then I have one of the following five drinks (two to make easily at home, two to have out in pleasant company, and one to have at home after a little more planning) and remember that, with the right mix of drinks and pals, any night of the year can have a school-and-sun-are-out atmosphere.
Her Sarong Slipped
As effervescent and flirty as a first date in July, Her Sarong Slipped is a sparkling combo that dates back to at least 1941. This recipe, from Champagne Cocktails, serves 2, because it’s not nearly as much fun to have sarongs slipping by yourself. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces brandy, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce grenadine. Shake well. Strain equally into a two white wine glasses and top each with chilled brut Champagne. Garnish each glass with a strawberry slice.
Shine Along the Shore
If you can’t actually be on a beach with the big yellow ball in the sky beating down, this spicy rum drink allows you to easily pretend that you are. Just be sure you put warmer clothes back on (instead of the swimsuit) when you go outside. This recipe’s from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add 1-1/2 ounces dark rum, 1 ounce amaretto, and 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a wide orange twist over the glass and drop it in.
Blood and Sand
This classic drink has perhaps one of the kookiest names—which I love. It always makes me think of watching B horror movies at the drive-in. The taste, a mix of scotch, Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth, and fresh orange juice, is hearty enough for winter, but hints heavily at the warmer months. Having one at the Innkeeper, which has such a swell summer-days outdoor deck, seems appropriate when you wish it was a different season.
Originally created by local bartender David Nelson, this Tavern Law standby has that fizziness that makes it a dandy drink to have when it is, actually, summer. But the other ingredients, the Earl Grey gin base, the lemon, and the honey that combine with club soda in the drink also mean this is an ideal cold-and-flu-season drink. But those bubbles never let you forget as you sip it that summer isn’t too far in the future.
The sun god of liqueurs, the Italian legend limoncello is in many ways summer in a glass: golden, lovely, memorable. When made well, it has a healthy kick, which the sunny months also carry--because we know they can’t last forever. Much commercial limoncello isn’t up to snuff, so I suggest making your own. You’ll have to wait a bit for it to be done, but it’s worth it. This recipe is from Luscious Liqueurs:
Wash, dry, and peel 14 lemons, trimming away any white pith. Put the peels in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid (juice the leftover lemons to use in separate drinks or in cooking). Add 4 cups grain alcohol or 100 proof vodka and seal. Place in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Let sit for 2 weeks. Add 3 cups simple syrup, stir, and reseal. Let sit for 2 more weeks. Strain the liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher, and then strain through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into bottles or jars.
Image copyright Jerry Errico, 2011. Originally published in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz