Summer cocktails mean taking advantage of the seasons bounty in a glass, or maybe in a peel; more on that later. As fruit and veggies ripen, so do your opportunities for celebrating with a little something. Whether that’s a Bloody Mary made with fresh tomatoes, or a loaded watermelon, there a bunch of things for you to try.
Fruit powered alcoholic drinks a a natural pairing; their light, refreshing taste is perfect for quenching a thirst on a hot day. Fruit purées and granitas are a an easy way to get the focused, pure taste of your favorite fruits into a drink. Puréeing fruit is as easy as rinsing, heading, and skinning as necessary, then toss your bounty into a blender and let ‘er rip. A quick trip through a single mesh strainer will finish the job. Use puréed fruit quickly; it will oxidize and spoil. For granitas, type granita into the search box in the upper right corner of your screen. You’ll find serval recipes, and from those, you can build your own for just about any fruit you like. Freeze the granita in ice cube trays and then toss them into a cocktail, (gin or vodka and tonic, or a glass of sparkling wine). The granita will keep the drink cold, and slowly release the fruit into your drink as you enjoy.
Loaded fruit is a fun and very effective way to, well, enjoy fruit and booze, of course! The easiest version is a loaded watermelon. Buy a nice big, firm one, and cut a roughly 2″ hole in the top, angling your knife so the plug you cut will sit snugly back in without disappearing. Next, extract enough flesh to fit. The neck of a booze bottle, plus a bit of reservoir room. Depending on the size of the melon, add anywhere from a pint to a fifth of your favorite booze; good vodka, rum, cachaça, bourbon or gin all go great. Remove the plug and carefully insert the neck of your booze bottle. Don’t push the rate, let the melon absorb as it wants to; you may end up refrigerating the melon and the inverted bottle. Once the melon has absorbed all the booze, put the plug back and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and overnight is even better. When you’re ready for it, just cut slices as you normally would and let the adults have a blast. Slices of that melon set on the edge of a glass of cold white wine are great too. You can load any citrus fruit or melon, but the smaller ones will need an injector to do the deed; the syringes and big needles made for injecting marinade into meat will work great. A bunch of sweet, juicy oranges loaded with añejo tequila, grapes with champagne, strawberries with premium rum, dipped in chocolate – Your imagination is the limit.
Finally, try infusing your favorite booze with something new to you as a combination. Take just the colored peel, (no white pith), from your favorite citrus fruit, or clean and slice fresh berries, fresh whole peppercorns, cucumber, sweet onion, cilantro, celery, radish, or anything else you love. Cover them with 100 proof vodka, rum, or bourbon and place them in an airtight glass jar. Shake the jar a couple times a day for about a week or so. Open it up and give a sniff; the essence of your favorite fruit has now infused that booze. Whatever you make with it will taste fresher and more vibrant than any artificially done or expensive flavored booze out there. Just that infused booze with a squirt of simple syrup, a shot of bitters and lots of ice is as good as it gets on a hot day.