All summer long, I stalk my local farmers market for the week’s freshest offerings. I initially recce the aisles, recalling recipes, pairing ingredients in my head, and determining how much produce one person can realistically consume in one week. Some salivating may occur, but I try to restrain myself, lest I look too much like a crazed, hungry predator stalking stationary prey.
When I see a quart of berries or a bushel of peaches, I think of all sorts of delicious baked goods, of course. I love the grandeur of beautifully constructed pies and tarts, and the satisfaction of turning out crisp, flaky pastry from a handful of simple ingredients. But, when temperatures and humidity soar, that pastry is sometimes difficult to achieve. That’s when I throw in the tea towel, and dream up ways to work those lovely, fresh fruits into a crisp, refreshing porch cocktail. Read more
A mint julep will always have a place in my summer cocktail rotation, from the first sip on Kentucky Derby Day to the last sip on a late summer evening on the porch. I shared a very large pitcher of them with some friends recently, and I was struck by their simplicity and versatility. The eight of us have diverse tastes, but we all agreed that there’s no better cocktail for a summer party. I don’t know why the mentholated chill of mint and the fiery warmth of bourbon complement each other so well, but they certainly do. A bourbon drink that’s refreshing enough for sticky summer days is as good as it gets. And one that doesn’t require a ton of fiddly measuring and mixing is perfection.
In my first porch cocktails post, I professed my love for a refreshing G&T. I also mentioned that I was in the midst of crafting some homemade tonic syrup in an effort to spruce up my go-to summer indulgence. Even with memories of this hilarious, disastrous saga in the back of my mind, I was itching to make my own tonic. I’m not one to be scared off by horror stories of DIY gone wrong. In fact, anecdotes like these have been known to encourage me. So, I found a recipe through David Lebovitz’ blog, and hunted down my ingredients, adapting the recipe to suit my needs.
Lest you fear that I’m indulging too often, I’m here to share the lovely non-alcoholic cocktail I’ve been enjoying at least as frequently as my go-to G&T. A dash of elderflower cordial in a tall glass of soda water is a great midday refresher. Concocting this delicious “mocktail” is as simple as drizzling some elderflower cordial over a glass of iced soda water, and stirring to distribute the cordial evenly. Each sip is sweet, zesty and floral–bursting with the bright, crisp flavors of summer–and finishes with a pleasantly yeasty aroma.
What says summer afternoons on the porch like a gin & tonic? It’s the perfect drink to have in hand while I lounge and read, which is the inspiration for my summer porch cocktails series. Sadly, I’ve finished my spring stash of the stellar nectar that is Hendrick’s gin. It was a wonderful transition into summer, and made even a standard weeknight cocktail feel like a treat. Now that I’ve taken off my academic hat in favor of a little summer downtime, though, I’m embracing less formal concoctions. I stumbled upon this WSJ article—with tons of suggestions for upgrading a G&T—just as I was transitioning from my favorite spring cocktails to their summer cousins. I was inspired to experiment, so I sampled a few G&Ts made with Hendrick’s gin and Fentiman’s tonic. They were incredibly delicious—with more complex botanical flavors and less sweetness—but I don’t find that their undoubted superiority warrants the steep price of the ingredients. A humble combination of Seagram’s extra dry gin and Canada Dry tonic is perfectly acceptable, in my opinion. I pay this drink the same respect I would its pricier counterpart, and find the ritual equally enjoyable.