I want to treat myself and the people around me to good times and good things to eat and drink, but I don’t want to work too hard in the process. Which is one of the reasons a cool summer cocktail is my secret ingredient for a great summer gathering.
Let me explain.
See, mixing up a special beverage doesn’t have to be complicated. About 85% of the time, I create a punch, throwing together a bottle of wine, cut-up fruit, and whatever other liquids I have on hand—juice, tonic water, ginger ale, club soda, you name it. Maybe a splash of brandy or liqueur. I do it in advance, days ahead even, and add the fruit just before serving.
So a cool summer cocktail can be easy.
(The other 15% of the time? I make something specific but only slightly more complicated, like a pitcher of daquiris, a batch mai tais, or the amazing Hibiscus Sangria, which can be enjoyed as a cocktail or mocktail, pictured in this post.)
And there’s nothing like greeting guests with a cool summer cocktail to say “yay! you’re here!” Sure, you can open a bottle or can of something and they’ll love you just as much. But something unexpectedly delightful lays the groundwork for an unexpectedly delightful time.
So a cool summer cocktail can also be a special treat.
Besides being a great greeting, a cool summer cocktail is a perfect poolside sipper. It’s a welcome addition to any barbecue, picnic, or potluck. In short, it makes the party—even a party of one or two.
A few words about the Hibiscus Sangria. It’s basically hibiscus tea, wine or juice, fruit, and a few sangria-style bells and whistles. So a slightly enhanced version of the punch I make most often.
And I created it for a Fine Cooking magazine feature on summer cocktails you can enjoy with or without alcohol. In addition to Hibiscus Sangria, the story included a watermelon-laced Summer Breeze, a tea-and-lemonade Peachy Palmer, a margarita-ish Melon-Cucumber-Lime Slushie, and a michelada-inspired Gazpacho Swizzler. All delicious if I do say so myself. Get the recipes here.
Bottom line, a cool summer cocktail works because it’s the ultimate expression of summer, something to both celebrate and relax into.
Mix one up and raise a glass to long, lazy days with friends.
Recipes to pair with Hibiscus Sangria and a great summer gathering:
Chicken with Lemon-Lime, Corn, and Jalapeno Relish
Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Spice-Rubbed Steaks with Grilled Gazpacho Sauce
Summer Potato Salad with Green Beans, Corn, Lemon, and Olive Oil
Melon and Chile Salad with Lime
Fresh Fruit Parfaits with Raw Sugar and Whipped Crème Fraiche
Mexican Chocolate and Cherry Brownies