This is a riff on the whiskey smash, an old drink related to the mint julep and the mojito. If you have mint growing in your garden, this is a great way to use it. It’s traditional to just muddle the booze with the mint and lemon, but come on. You realize that’s just pretty much doing a shot of bourbon, right? When it’s hot out, you want something that’s going to take a bunch of ice and stay cold a while. This one uses lemon juice.
- 8 fresh mint leaves
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup (or 1 tablespoon sugar)
Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake the hell out of it. Shake, shake, shake until you’ve bruised the mint enough that you can taste it in the bourbon.
Strain into a tall glass full of ice. Garnish with more mint. Top it off with club soda if you like.
Shake each drink with fresh mint leaves if you’re only making a few; if you’re pouring for a crowd, then it’s easier to make a simple syrup and infuse it with mint. Try using Thai basil (serious!) or a ginger simple syrup.
Prickly pear syrup is easy to make if you have ripe fruits (essentially: boil the fruit with enough water to cover; strain; add an equal amount of sugar and simmer 5 minutes; add lemon juice to taste). You can also buy it, skip it or substitute another brightly colored syrup. You really only need a tiny drop of the syrup to color your drink an electric magenta.
The spritz is an eminently refreshing cocktail for a hot afternoon. You can serve it as an aperitif at full strength or dilute with more club soda if you’re in for a marathon of patio drinking. You can add a lot of soda before it loses its charm.
- 3 parts chilled Prosecco or sparkling wine
- 2 parts Aperol
- 1 splash club soda
- prickly pear syrup
Pour into two rocks glasses, garnish with a slice of orange or a strip of de-spined cactus paddle and serve. (Alternatively, dump it into one big plastic tumbler and take it out to the pool.)
Garnish with an orange slice.
Cañón de Campaña
This is a variation on the French 75, a champagne cocktail so strong that WWI soldiers are said to have named it after a powerful piece of field artillery. This one is a little strong but very refreshing.
Agave liqueur (about 64 proof) is substituted here for the traditional cognac or gin.
- 1 ounce Agavero or another agave liqueur
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon agave nectar or more, to taste
- 3 ounces (or more) chilled cava or sparkling wine
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the agave, lemon and sweetener. Shake thoroughly, then taste. Add enough sweetener so that it’s not painfully tart, but not perfectly sweet, either. The wine will add some sweetness.
Put a drop of prickly pear syrup in a flute or other fun glass. Pour in the agave mixture and then the bubbly over them.
Watermelon Agua Fresca-rita
Keep it away from the kids!
- 2 cups watermelon cubes
- 1½ ounces lime juice
- 4 ounces watermelon juice
- 2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce simple syrup
Put the watermelon cubes into the blender and puree . Strain the slush through a sieve to make a smooth juice.
Add the ingredients to a shaker and shake well. Serve over ice and garnish with a little watermelon wedge.
Add fresh mint to the shaker or use mint simple syrup.