Umbrella Drink

Fresh-n-fruity, cool-n-juicy, wild-n-loosey. That just about sums up our brain’s assessment of what’s in store for us when we mix up a classic summertime drink, pour it into a frosty glass garnished with a festive neon colored paper umbrella and prepare to ride the wave of a spirited haze. Not that any justification needs to be made, but after an often long week at work, nothing says fuggetaboutit quite like liquor, fruit, ice and even more liquor harmoniously whizzed together in a blender.

With the mercury rising, you know what you really need to take your mind off your pools of perspiration? A cocktail intervention, stat! Life is far too short to continually mix up the same reliable yet predictable combinations that don’t quite deliver on the cooling factor. When you dare to imbibe the same-old, same-old, your grey matter ends up sleepwalking through what should really be a Pee Wee Herman, bar-dancing-platform-shoes-experience.

So, here are a few quirky, herbaceous and unexpected blends to knock the socks off your tootsies and your taste buds.

Blackberry Rosemary Sparkler

Got fresh blackberries? Good. You’re going to need about 2 cups of them in order to create a snappy syrup. Place them inside a pot with 2/3 cup of water, ¼ cup of sugar and 1 ½ tablespoons of finely minced fresh rosemary. No need to use a lid – just simmer this mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally throughout the cooking process until the whole thing is reduced by 2/3. If seeds tweak your imbibing enjoyment, then by all means, strain your blackberry-rosemary syrup with a fine sieve and refrigerate what remains until it’s nice and chilly.

Oh goody – now it’s cocktail time! Pour any type of sparkling white wine or bubbly champagne into the glass of your choice and top it with 1 ½ teaspoons of your freshly prepared flavor sensation.

White Grape Fresh Mint Pizzazz

Muddle 7-8 fresh white grapes and 5 fresh mint leaves with a mortar and pestle. Then transfer the mixture to a cocktail shaker and add a handful of ice, 2 ounces of Pisco 100 (distilled from grape-based wine must), ¾ ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liquer and ½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice. Shake vigorously, strain into the glass of your choice and top with a splash of club soda for a bubbly kick. This is the epitome of air conditioning for your tongue… you’ll see.

Tomatillo Bloody Mary

The classic version of a Bloody Mary is precisely what any sensible doctor would prescribe for a supreme weekend brunch experience, but by all means, leave a little room in your repertoire for this modernized, ever-so-spunky recipe. Puree the following veggie powerhouse combo in a blender: 3 tomatillos, 2 green tomatoes, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 cucumber and 1 seeded Serrano chile. Split the mixture between two glasses, crowning each with a shot of vodka, a handful of ice and a fresh lime wedge. Snoozeville will be but a distant memory once you partake in this fresh and flavorful combination!

Cucumber Yum Yum Cocktail

Cukey booze is nothing new, but blended together with fresh raspberries, gin, aquavit and lime? Prepare to embark on a surprisingly tasty new journey. Once again, you’ll need to whip out your trusty old mortar and pestle so you can mush up 10 English cucumber slices along with 8 fresh raspberries. Add the fruity-cuke mash to a cocktail shaker along with ¼ cup of gin, a generous dash of honey, 2 tablespoons of aquavit (a caraway seed-infused Scandinavian liqueur), 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice and a handful of ice. Shake it like a Polaroid picture and you’re ready to roll!

Rhubarb Basil Quencher

For the culinarily inclined, this multi-stepped recipe is worth its weight in happy hour gold. First, you’ll need to whip up a fresh rhubarb puree by stewing 12-13 stalks of the reddish-green wonder (diced into ½ inch cubes) in a pot over medium heat for 10 minutes along with ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water. Throughout the cooking process, be sure to cover the mixture with a lid, stirring regularly. It’s all done when it’s nice and soft.

Then, give the cooked rhubarb a whirl in a blender so it achieves a nice, smooth consistency. Some fibrous bits will still be present, so if you prefer a smooth chug-a-lugging experience, then take the time to press your rhubarb mixture through a fine mesh strainer first (although a little extra fiber a day is always good).

Finally… onto the boozy blend! Roll and julienne 4 large basil leaves, muddle them with a mortar and pestle and then pop them into the bottom of your glass. Spoon 3 tablespoons of fresh rhubarb puree on top, followed by 1 ½ ounces of vodka, a handful of ice, a dash of club soda and stir until everything is blended. Mercy me, that’s good to the last drop!

Image: Stewart

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