It is no secret that for us Floridians, summer really starts in April. It is hard to ignore the 85-degree sun and the moist wind that sticks to every single bead of sweat. It’s the time of year we ditch the idea of casually drinking heavy stouts, red wine and hot toddies. ‘Tis the season for porch hangs, pitchers of mojitos and Prosecco chilled in the fridge at all times. Here at Void, we realize that bars with sweaty bodies do not always sound appealing, so we thought we would ready our readership with some tips to crafting the perfect at-home summer cocktail.
First, let’s talk about the tools of the trade. You will definitely need a cocktail shaker. These can cost anywhere from $5 to $30, depending on how fancy you want to get. Next, you will need a cocktail spoon, in case you get a hankering for something stirred. The last piece of essential barware is a handheld citrus squeezer, so that you can have fresh juice.
Make sure your liquors are local! Jacksonville has so many delicious distilleries. They are usually tucked off in warehouse districts, but you can always find them on the shelves of any Northeast Florida liquor store. Fernandina is home to Marlin and Barrel. They specialize in rum and vodka. Carve Vodka comes to us from Grey Matter Distillery. St. Augustine Distillery is home to the Ice Plant restaurant and gives tours of their facility that makes vodka, gin, rum and will soon be the spot to have created the first Florida bourbon. One distillery that is popping up in Cork Arts District in Riverside is Burlock & Barrel. This team will specialize in whiskey. We have no shortage of liquor in Jacksonville, so show the locals some love and craft some cocktails.
To get some advice on which cocktails are perfect for summer sippin, we spoke to one of our friends from behind the bar at Restaurant Orsay, Liz Russell. She stressed that summertime drinks are best when they feature seasonal fruits, with a balance of spices, are shaken, and most importantly, are refreshing. The fruits you want to use are not hard to find. If they are in season, it is almost guaranteed that you can find them growing in the field at a local farm, or even BOGO at Publix. These fruits can be made into syrups to use in cocktails. This is what Liz calls the “self expressive” part of crafting a drink. Simple syrup (which is just 1:1 ratio of sugar and hot water) can be made into anything when a fruit is stewed with the hot liquid, and then simply strained out.
Here are a couple recipes to make at home in the comfort of the AC. These are those poolside drinks that are classy to drink while clad in a bikini or swim trunks.
Seriously, this is a classic. How many times have we all ordered a daiquiri at a bar without even realizing how simple it is to make at home? This is a rum drink that is refreshing, light and will get you into some serious trouble if you have one too many.
- 2 oz. Marlin and Barrel Rum
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- ½ lime freshly squeezed
Shake all three ingredients with ice and serve straight in a martini glass, or a solo cup … really whatever vessel you would like. Garnish with a lime and seriously thank the heavens for simplicity. Add a blueberry or strawberry simple syrup to this if you want to spice it up.
Nothing says summer like vodka mixed with anything cold, really. This drink involves rosemary simple syrup, so just steep rosemary sprigs with hot water and sugar, and strain after about 15 minutes. Keep some of the fresh sprigs for garnish.
- 2 oz. St. Augustine Vodka
- 2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ oz. of rosemary simple syrup
- 2 oz. champagne
Shake these ingredients with ice and strain over a half cup of ice. Top with about 2 oz. of champagne if you really want to have fun. The rosemary simple syrup can also be substituted with any other fruit simple. Keep lavender simple syrup on hand for a drink like this. Ladies love lavender anything.
The moral of the story is that all liquids go down easier in the summertime, and since going outside sounds like hell sometimes, you might as well booze it up at home. Remember the basics to crafting drinks — keep your liquor local, your fruits in season and top everything with champagne. Here’s to hoping the heat brings with it creativity and self-expression to your at-home cocktail game.