Winter of 2013 gave us the delicious book Winter Cocktails. Not only have I served a number of cocktails from the book over the past two winters, I also sent Oldest Son a copy when he spent the winter in Wisconsin. You may recall the winter of 2013 was the coldest in history, with the polar vortex and all. He was not a happy boy. Winter Cocktails helped.
This year Maria Del Mar Sacasa are Tara Striano are back with Summer Cocktails. Close your eyes, say Summer Cocktails and let your mind wander to warm days on the deck or front stoop, a tall, cool glass in your hand, sweat running from both your face and the glass...summer is the best.
Let's talk a bit about the physical book. A nice hardcover that stays open while you are using it, with a pretty ribbon to help keep your place. Lots of lovely photos, 'cause sometimes you do not know if you really want to try something until you see it. Over 100 recipes that you can make right now, without a degree in mixology. A full index and a page on sources. I love the way the chapters are set up with a main recipe and then a list of variations.
As with Winter Cocktails, the book starts with help on setting up your bar and follows with detailed instructions for prepping garnishes and ingredients.
The first chapter, Classics, Throwbacks, and New Wave provide 60 (!) recipes for cocktails old and new. Often a traditional drink recipe is followed by variations, such as with the Love-Love. Love-Love is a variation on a Pimm's Edition that includes Pimm's, strawberry vodka, and lemon soda. I could not wait to try it and put a jar of strawberries and vodka on the counter to infuse immediately.
The second chapter is Punches and Pitchers, vital recipes to have on hand when your intimate winter get togethers turn into big parties at the park.
Hawaiian Punch can be made days in advance and left to chill in the fridge while you get everything else together for the party.
Frosty Drinks, chapter three, includes blender drinks, grown up popsicles, and boozy shakes (hello Mary!) Come on summer!
And because all those cocktails can sometimes lead to an unpleasant morning the after, the next chapter is all about Antidotes. Hair of the dog drinks to help your day along.
The last two chapters, Underpinnings, and Fill Your Plate, provide you with the other parts of your party, you are after all going to be doing more than just drinking. Right?
I really appreciate how accessible these recipes are, without being boring. You do not need to buy 16 different kinds of obscure liqueur, but the drinks are modern and contain the wow factor that is sure to impress.
When it comes to a party, mixing up the cocktails before hand is the only way to go if you are not hiring a bartender. The recipe for Peachy Keen Punch includes all my favorite things, bourbon, peaches, prosecco, and summer. The instructions provided are to use with a punch bowl, if you do not have a punch bowl these can also be pitcher drinks. At the end, mix all your ingredients together in pitchers, but leave out the peaches. Pour cocktails into ice filled glasses and top with a few slices of the poached peaches. So good you will want to plan a party just so that you can serve up a batch.
Peachy Keen Punch
makes 13 cups (about 3 quarts), serves 24
Bourbon, like its fellow brown spirits, is a liquor I normally use to make winer cocktails. Paired with peaches and almonds, however, bourbon is perfect for summer drinks, too. This harmonous trio conjures up freshness, perfume, and smokiness.
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
8 medium peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted and cut into 8 wedges each
1 (750-millilier) bottle bourbon, chilled, divided
2 (750-milliliter) bottles prosecco, chilled
2 cups amaretto or almond liqueur, chilled
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained and chilled
Poach the peaches: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub sugar and orange zest together until no orange strands remain. Combine peaches, sugar mixture, 1/2 cup of the bourbon, and salt in a medium sauepan and cook over medium-high heat, gently stirring from time to time, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour peaches and cooking liquid onto a prepared sheet, cover looslely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes.
Make the punch: Combine prosecco, the remaining bourbon, amaretto, and juice in a punch or other serving bowl. Stir in chilled peaches and any accumulated juices. Slide in ice mold and serve immediataely, scooping peaches into each glass.
**This book was provided to me by the publisher. No money changed hands and my opinions are my own.**