Peter Vargas, Assistant Manager and Sommelier of Mountain Lake, offers summer beverage menu musts.
The summer is here in a very big way, especially in Florida where if it’s not the heat then it’s all about the power of mother nature and her storms. (Let’s be honest, all of us are just trying to reason with hurricane season at our clubs.)
Regardless of where your club is located, here are some cocktails you might want to have on your list to hydrate members in the heat or by the pool. Everyone is looking for something refreshing, classic, but also not found on every single cocktail menu, and most importantly made correctly.
We are in the business of creating experiences and even a simple cocktail can create a wonderful experience or turn an experience around. Let’s go over a few basics before we get into our top 10 summer cocktails.
First are measurements. The correct measurement of ingredients in your cocktail is essentials for balance and harmonious incorporation of characteristics. The second is shaking vs. stirring. The rule of thumb is if a cocktail contains eggs, citrus, juices, or dairy you shake. If a cocktail is made entirely with spirits, you stir. Relatively speaking, spirits are equal in density, so shaking spirits alone is not necessary to properly combine them into a homogeneous solution. And, whereas shaking aerates a cocktail, stirring preserves the spirits’ silky texture and clarity. Finally, stirring protects against excessive dilution, which is important in something like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned, which are drinks meant to retain a certain degree of stiffness. Third is glassware, and certain shapes and styles of glassware not only look impeccable for presentation, but they also enhance the flavor of what you’re drinking.
Enough Talking… Let’s get to our cocktails:
- Caipirinha – 2oz. Cachaca, 1oz. Lime Juice, 1oz. Simple Syrup, shaken and poured over ice in a rocks glass with a lime wedge garnish. This tiki cocktail is simple but so refreshing along with the Cachaca (not a rum) that gives the cocktail a unique sweetness and flavor.
- Corpse Reviver No.2 – .75oz Gin, .75oz Cointreau, .75oz Lillete, .75oz Lemon Juice, a dash of Absinth, shaken and strained into a champagne cup with a cherry garnish. This classic prohibition cocktail first showed up in 1930 from Harry Craddock. The Corpse Reviver family of cocktails is part of the “hair of the dog” genre. Always a winner on a brunch cocktail menu.
- Daiquiri – 2oz. Jamaican Rum, 1oz Lime Juice, 1oz Simple Syrup shaken and strained over ice in a highball glass with a lime or cherry garnish. The Daiquiri takes its name from its birthplace, Daiquiri Beach, Cuba. This small town was one of the first landing sites for American businesses after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The classic and not frozen version is a lot more refreshing and simpler…sometimes simple is pretty.
- French 75 – 1.5oz Gin, .75oz Lemon Juice, .75oz Simple syrup shaken and strained into a champagne flute and then topped with champagne. Even though this cocktail is said to be named after the 75mm French field gun in WWI it’s not as intense as the backstory. In fact, this cocktail is reminiscent of those patio-pounding white wines everyone enjoys this time of year. It’s like there is a hole in the glass and you are looking for more!
- Last Word – .75oz Gin, .75oz Lime Juice, .75oz Green Chartreuse, .75 Maraschino Liqueur shaken and strained into a Nick and Nora glass with no garnish. This cocktail can be messed up very easily with too much Chartreuse or Maraschino, but if it’s made right it will probably be your new cult cocktail that you ask for every time you pull a seat up to the bar.
- Mai Tai – 1oz Dark Jamaican Rum, 1oz Amber Martinique Rum, .5oz Lime Juice, .25oz White Curacao, .25oz Orgeat Syrup, shaken and strained over ice in a highball glass with a pineapple or lime garnish. I see that you noticed there is no pineapple juice in this cocktail. This is the classic way of creating the Mai Tai which was at the center of the competition between Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. Don the Beachcomber claimed to have created the cocktail in 1933 when he opened his Polynesian restaurant. Trader Vic claims to have made the cocktail in 1944 when he served it to a group of friends visiting from Tahiti. You want a good twist on this classic…use aged cachaca, but that’s our little secret.
- Paper Plane – .75oz Bourbon, .75oz Aperol, .75oz Amaro Nonino, .75oz Lemon Juice shaken and strained into a champagne coupe with a lemon twist garnish. Finding its stomping grounds at Milk and Honey this classic has everything for a great cocktail hour drink that will set you up before sitting down to dinner. A change in the amaro can alter the flavor profile of this drink drastically. Elijah Craig and Eagle Rare are two Bourbons I recommend for this cocktail.
- Paloma – 2oz Tequila, .5oz Lime Juice, Top with chilled Grapefruit Soda. You can build this cocktail in a highball with a piece of grapefruit or lime wedge. You Might want to get a Grapefruit Soda that is a little sweet if you do not like very tart cocktails, but this is so simple and great for a hot day in the sun…or Cancun.
- Vesper – 2oz Gin, 1oz Grain Vodka, 1oz Lillete Blanc stirred and strained into a Nick and Nora glass with a Lemon peel garnish. Who doesn’t love this little odd cousin of a martini that just happens to have a hint of sweetness? Again, great before sitting down to dinner while the Lillete is a little sweet is has acid in it which will get the pallet and appetite ready to go.
- The Bramble – 2oz Gin, .75oz Lemon Juice, .5oz Simple Syrup, .75oz Crème de Mure, you will shake the Gin, Lemon and Simple syrup, together and strain over ice in a rocks glass, and float the Crème de Mure. You can garnish with a blackberry or lemon wedge. This cocktail is great because it does have a floral, light and fruit element all of which are enjoyable and take the stress of the heat away wherever you decide to enjoy it.