Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Cocktails

It’s the season that cries out for cocktails.  After a long day at work, or a weekend gathering of friends, a cold cocktail in hand is the perfect way start to dinner.   The summer season is actually too short here in Chicago.  I barely have time to get in all of the pre-dinner drinks I want to serve to my family and friends.  At our place you may be greeted with a classic martini, a frozen margarita, a fruity glass of sangria, a chilled dry rosé wine, a high ball or a refreshing fruit-flavored cocktail in a martini glass. 

To go along with any cocktail, you need either a little appetizer or simply a nice snack mix.  Each summer I create a large jar of my own snack mix to use throughout the season whenever cocktails are served.  As you can see in these photos, I select a variety of salty and spicy items, mix them together and keep them at the ready whenever drinks are served.  This year my mix included wasabi peas, extra crunchy large peanuts, sesame sticks, small pretzels, barbecued corn kernels and other favorites.  I like each item to be small in size and easy to pop into your mouth while you sip your cocktail in the outdoors.

This year Kevin created a new drink, based on my recipe for pear and ginger crisp.  He likes this dessert so much, he felt he could use the same flavors to create a summer drink. 
Pear and Ginger Cocktail
Ingredients (per serving, can make two cocktails at a time in a traditional shaker)
Crushed Ice
2 shots pear vodka
2 shots light pear juice (from canned pears)
3 pieces of thinly sliced and muddled fresh ginger
Pear slice to garnish
Candied ginger piece to garnish
Fill a martini shaker halfway with crushed ice.  Crush the ginger to bring out some of the juice and add it (crushed ginger and juice) to the shaker.  Add the pear juice and vodka.  Cover and shake briskly.  Pour into martini glasses.  Skewer a piece each of canned pear and candied ginger and serve.

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Another very refreshing and tasty summer cocktail follows which was sent to me by my friend Tim.  It uses limoncello, traditionally served after dessert and often overwhelmingly sweet.  However, when added to this cocktail, it adds a lovely light lemon flavor which goes well with the mint.  Highly recommended for hot summer days!

Mint Limonata
Ingredients (per serving, can make two cocktails at a time in a traditional shaker)
Crushed ice
2 ounces limoncello
1 ounce vodka
2 ounces sparkling water (San Pelligrino)
2 medium mint leaves, torn in half

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with crushed ice and add the limoncello and vodka.  Shake to combine.  Remove lid and add the sparkling water and stir to mix in. Pour into a rocks glass allowing some of the ice to drop into the glass.  Push the torn mint leaves down into the drink and serve.

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