There is no doubt that the changing seasons affect our moods and tastes in different ways. It is often the case that a rise in temperature and sunshine hours will draw us away from the more commonly-found temperate tastes and towards the more tropical and fruity flavours that celebrate the summer. It is always great to finish up a balmy afternoon in August with a drink that is rich in natural sweetness and flavours, conjuring up images of a distant island paradise. Here are some ideas for cocktails that can provide that tropical escape that you were looking for.
Nothing welcomes in the English summer like strawberries, Pimms and Wimbledon. A fruit cup is a traditional long drink served in England in the summer. Pimm’s is a gin-based drink (though other spirits are also used) with added liqueurs and botanicals that is around 25% ABV. A Pimm’s Cup can be made by building 45ml Pimm’s No. 1 in a highball glass with ice and garnished with slices of orange and lemon, cucumber, strawberries and mint, before filling with equal parts lemonade and ginger ale, or either one. Many London bars serve Pimm’s cocktails in the summer, such as at POP in Brixton or The Avalon in Clapham.
Making use of Pisco, a clear or amber spirit distilled from grapes in Peru and Chile, the Pisco Punch uses 60ml Peruvian pisco, 30ml fresh pineapple juice, 15ml orange juice, 15ml lemon juice and 15ml sugar syrup or gum arabic. The ingredients are shaken with ice, strained into an ice-filled highball glass, topped with Champagne or club soda and garnished with a cherry. There are numerous variations of this drink, partly because the 19th century original, that caused a sensation in the Bank Exchange Billiard Saloon of San Francisco, was lost when the owner died in 1927. For those looking to try the old drink of the American west coast, one of London’s Ceviche restaurants may be a good place for this sour cocktail with a tropical twist.
The Caipirinha is a Brazilian cocktail that uses cachaca, a sugarcane spirit that is popular in Brazil, along with lime and sugar. A more fruity variation can be achieved by adding summer berries to the mix. 8 Raspberries and half a fresh lime can be muddled in a rocks glass with 3 bar spoons of caster sugar, before filling with ice and adding 60ml cachaca. This should then be served and garnished with a raspberry to create a sweet and cool taste, with the sharp citrus balanced by the softer and more rounded notes of berry. The Caipirinha is served in many cocktail bars, so why not ask for this alternative take on the original at your next chance.
A Mexican favourite to bring some latin flair to your evening, the Paloma is usually made with tequila blanco, or silver tequila, which has been aged for less than two months. 60ml tequila should be shaken with ice, 30ml grapefruit juice, 15ml lime juice and 7.5ml agave syrup, then strained into a salt-rimmed collins glass filled with ice, topped with club soda and garnished with a lime wheel or a red grapefruit wedge. The combination of salt, sugar, citrus and tequila make the Paloma bitter, sweet, tart and potent and result in a refreshingly vibrant summer cocktail.
Another refreshing summer drink that makes use of berries, the Bramble emerged in the 1980s in England, where blackberries can be widely found in late summer. It is made by shaking 50ml dry gin, 30ml lemon juice and 10ml sugar syrup with ice and straining into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. More crushed ice should be mounded on top before pouring 10ml crème de mûre over the ice and garnishing with a blackberry and a lemon slice. The result is a sweet and sour cocktail with a hint of the European summer, that is easy to find in London or New York, or at the Bramble Bar in Edinburgh.
The Tequila Sunrise is another drink hailing from San Francisco, and was helped by the Rolling Stones on their American tour in reaching its iconic cocktail status. For this, 5ml grenadine and 5ml crème de cassis are poured into an ice-filled collins glass. 45ml reposado tequila, 23ml curaçao, 15ml fresh lime juice and 75ml fresh orange juice are shaken and carefully strained onto the red ingredients to create a layered effect, and garnished with a lime wheel. The bright orange and red colours are true to the taste, which is fresh, sweet and fruity. Azulito Bar in London may be a good place to find tequila-based cocktails.
One finely-prepared and carefully-chosen drink can really make a difference to the day, and when electric fans are being turned on and layers are coming off, the usual cocktail of choice will probably need to be changed in favour of something more exotic. But don’t simply settle for something different – make sure that the freshest fruits are used and the best available spirits, whether it be a Don Julio tequila or a Tanqueray gin, that make all the difference. Then all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the good times of the summer!
Cocktails and bartending can open many doors for those with a taste for the finer things in life. Why not try out one of the courses we offer at European Bartender School?