By Nick Farrell
Summer breeze makes us feel fine, and refreshing summer cocktails make us feel even better.
Now that the heat is challenging us in ways it seems to never have before, bars and ambitious home imbibers are finding more inventive ways to cool off, or at the very least, forget about the heat. Here are three summer trends that will have you drinking liquid shade.
It’s not your grandfather’s drink anymore, and now there are new styles and flavors to create all sorts of cocktails. Bars across the area are taking advantage of local products to offer new flavors to titillate tipplers. Flying Fox, Capitoline and Mt. Defiance are three Virginia and D.C. brands producing a number of styles that you can sip on the rocks with a twist of citrus, lengthened with a little club soda, or in your own unique Manhattan or Negroni. At Vermilion here in Alexandria, we offer Flying Fox local and seasonal vermouth for sipping.
Nobody likes waste – and bars, like your own kitchen, can sometimes be the biggest culprits. Maybe you’ve already started seeing paper straws, or “straws on request,” and dehydrated fruit garnishes, or other creative ways that bars are finding to make sure there’s less waste. At home, you might have already started turning that excess basil you were growing into pesto that you’ll freeze in ice cube trays for the winter.
If you found that you overzealously bought fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market this week and now they’re bordering on overripe, you can give fruit a second life by making a sangria with it. Sangria is ripe for riffs with that almost-turned fruit and two-day-old wine, and a great way to make a few drinks at once.
Low alcohol cocktails
Did I mention that it’s hot? It’s hot. Nothing is going to slow you down more in the summer like a big martini. Worse yet, that martini is going to get warm quickly while you’re sitting by the pool as the condensation beads on the outside of your glass.There’s nothing worse than a tepid, strong gin-based cocktail. As we all know, alcohol is dehydrating. When
thinking about making a refreshing drink, try omitting base spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey or mezcal. Instead, reach for a liqueur, amaro or fortified wine, and build your cocktail from there. Instead of a vodka lemonade, you can find yourself drinking a St. Germain sparkling lemonade, omitting some of the sugar in the lemonade, too.
My personal favorite low-alcohol drink is an Americano: Campari and sweet vermouth with sparkling water and garnished with a twist of orange. If you want to get your hands dirty in the kitchen, try the Vermilion brunch favorite the Summer Breeze, which incorporates plenty of summer flavor.
All told, there’s nearly no wrong way to drink in the summer, unless it’s drinking too much.
How to make a summer breeze
1 oz. Cappelletti (a wine-based aperitivo similar to Campari. If you can’t find it,
Campari will work in a pinch)
.5 oz. grapefruit
.5 oz. lime
.5 oz. ginger simple syrup (simmer together 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water and 8 oz
chopped fresh ginger until dissolved, let it cool and stand for 1 hour, strain)
Add these ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and strain into a champagne
flute. Top with sparkling wine.
Nick Farrell is the spirits manager at Vermilion at 1120 King St. Vermilion is part of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.