Reclaim your cocktail hour!
This summer, spend less time mixing up cocktails and more time relaxing and having a drink with friends. Whether mixing things up in a punch bowl or combining ingredients in a pitcher a day beforehand, make-ahead drinks are easy prep for a get-together or for having a drink from the fridge whenever the mood strikes.
Making a perfect punch is all about striking a balance of flavors. One need only remember a simple rhyme from Barbados to hit all the notes: “one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” The sour is achieved through citrus or shrubs, sweetness with syrups and liqueurs, weakness comes by way of soda water or tea, and the strength is your spirit.
When savory and refreshing meet floral and fruity, you get a drink meant for a hot summer day. Juniper Cafe’s signature cocktail, Thunder Punch, is “a play on the fact that it is very ‘punch’-like with fresh fruit and flowers, and the fact that thunder is always exciting,” says Beverage Director Carl Van Tyle. He stirs together lime juice, Pink Lady apple, red dragon fruit, St. Germaine, vodka, hibiscus tea and saffron.
“There are a lot of nuances to this beverage. The main ingredient, Nikka Coffey Vodka, is arguably the best vodka coming out of Japan,” Van Tyle says. “I combine dragon fruit with fresh squeezed Pink Lady apples to add orchard fruit notes without adding sweetness.” He then makes hibiscus tea to bring out the florality of hibiscus as well as color and natural acidity. “I wanted to provide the guest with the opportunity to experience some really classic Asian flavors, like dragon fruit, hibiscus and saffron, with the approachability of the vodka and the apples. You should experience a light, floral and fruit-forward, but not sweet, drink,” he says.
Sangria, with bite-sized pieces of fruit along with boozy punch, is both a drink and a snack. Yao Atlanta stirs up a summer version that is as vibrant as their Chinese-Thai food. SangriYAO combines white wine, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, Triple Sec, pineapple juice and lime. A glass comes filled with sliced strawberries and a sprig of rosemary to stir and release aromas.
New to Atlanta, Postino wine cafe’s brunch cocktails are easy enough to stir one up at home.
Beverage Director Brent Karlicek’s advice for keeping things cool is to first fill a freeze-proof bowl with water and freeze overnight. The staff often describes the Sure Shot as “rosé our way.”
25.4 oz. Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo
25.4 oz. sparkling rosé
6 oz. grapefruit juice
12 oz. sparkling water
Grapefruit wheel, one per serving
Add ice to the bowl. Add ingredients. Garnish each serving with a grapefruit wheel.
At Brookwood Hills neighborhood tavern The Usual, Beverage Director Matthew Gibbons created a summer stunner. A base syrup made with strawberries and tarragon make it not only refreshing, but garden fresh.
8 oz. vodka
8 oz. strawberry & tarragon syrup
4 oz. dry vermouth
2 bottles sparkling white wine
Strawberries and tarragon for garnish
Mix ingredients in a punch bowl. Add ice. Top with wine and stir gently. Garnish with freshly sliced strawberries and tarragon.
STRAWBERRY & TARRAGON SYRUP
2 cups water
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup fresh tarragon
2 cups sugar
Combine all ingredients and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Strain and allow it to cool.
Drinks columnist at Simply Buckhead. Food, spirits, and culture writer.