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Beat the heat with cool summer cocktails

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    Cocktails are especially popular in summer because they fit easily into plans for socializing and entertainment, according to Eleanor Maxwell, editor of "The Ultimate Cocktail Book."

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    The Blade
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Cocktails are especially popular in summer because they fit easily into plans for socializing and entertainment, according to Eleanor Maxwell, editor of "The Ultimate Cocktail Book."

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So many summertime cocktails. So many reasons to reach for one.

Eleanor Maxwell, editor of The Ultimate Cocktail Book, which came out last week, cites the glamor of cocktails and their implied association with the Golden Age of Hollywood. In summer they are especially popular because they fit easily into plans for socializing and entertainment, she wrote in an e-mail.

"And let's not forget the obvious -- cocktails are a treat, and when will indulging and spoiling ourselves go out of fashion?" she wrote.

Or you could look at it this way: They're good for you. Juniper berries, the main flavoring agent for gin, are a diuretic and are thought by some to help control diabetes. Lemons can help reduce the chances of developing kidney stones. Citrus juices are an important source of Vitamin C and are helpful in preventing scurvy.

How many drinkers do you know with scurvy?

And then there are cocktails' more obvious benefits. On a hot summer's day, they provide cool refreshment -- just picture a colorful concoction inside a chilled glass with drops of cold condensation dripping down the outside. Now picture yourself sipping from it. Ahhh, that's the stuff.

Are cocktails' exotic, enticing names part of their appeal? Perhaps not, but they can't hurt. Who could turn down the danger and mystery of a Singapore Gin Sling? Who could resist the delicacy of a Hummingbird or the power of a French 75 -- named for a particularly deadly type of artillery? What could be more pleasantly lethal than a Black Widow?

When contemplating summertime cocktails, it is perhaps best to start with where they all began, with the Pimm's Cup. The Pimm's Cup dates back to 1823, when all the most fashionable Londoners took their oysters with gin. James Pimm, who ran the Oyster Bar, devised a secret concoction of gin, liqueurs, and fruit extracts. Apparently, it went great with oysters. What he called Pimm's No. 1 -- there eventually were six varieties -- became so popular that people started experimenting with it to make a light and refreshing beverage. The result is the Pimm's Cup, made in England with a slightly bitter, carbonated lemonade; in the United States, we make it with lemon-lime soda or ginger ale.

Much more recent in origin is the Cosmopolitan, which shot from obscurity to massive popularity due to the television show Sex and the City. Over-familiarity with it quickly dropped it back down into relative obscurity, but the drink itself is just as good now as it was when Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda were quaffing them by the jug. Our recipe comes from Simon Watridge, the son of a neighbor of a friend, and it is the best Cosmo, bar none, that you will ever try.

The Southside Strangler is a creation of our own, the result of taking juices that are traditionally paired with rum and mixing them with lemon vodka, plus a dash of Cointreau for extra depth. It is named for serial killer Timothy Spencer, who terrorized the neighborhood in which it was created.

A Gimlet is a timeless classic dating back to Prohibition, when speakeasies looked for ways to mask the flavor of greatly inferior gin. It was soon discovered that lime goes exceptionally well with gin, even bathtub gin, and a bit of sweetening was added to counter the tartness of the lime. Rose's Lime Juice, which is considered by many to be the only flavoring worthy of a Gimlet, actually was invented decades before the drink itself. Lauchlin Rose of Scotland helped supply British ships with lime juice after the scurvy-fighting Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 required all the nation's ships to carry limes. Many sailors did not like the pure lime juice, so Rose devised a way to sweeten and bottle a more delicious version.

Another classic, but one that largely has become forgotten, is the superbly refreshing Tom Collins. The drink was once so popular that Canada Dry made a soft-drink version of the sweet and tart flavor. Making a proper Tom Collins requires either superfine sugar (easily purchased or made in a blender) or simple syrup (easily made on the stove), but it is well worth the slight additional effort for a cocktail that wards off the summer heat like no other.

The recent Martini fad left behind few lasting or memorable drinks, the Cosmopolitan being the most notable exception. Another exception with some staying power is the lemon drop, which is one more version of the unbeatable summertime sweet-tart combination. Our version is from an anonymous bartender who posted it on the Internet. At least, he says he is a bartender. Either way, his drink is a winner.

New Amsterdam gin provided the recipes for two more hot-weather recipes. The Park Avenue takes advantage of the season's best grapefruits -- whenever possible, use fresh-squeezed grapefruit for drink recipes that call for grapefruit juice. The L.E.S., which stands for Lower East Side, is based on a Honeysuckle Martini. Once again, it is a summery blend of tart flavors and sweet, but the sweet this time comes from honey. To make the honey runny enough to mix with the other ingredients, we first poured out the three-fourths ounce the recipe calls for and popped it in the microwave for 15 seconds. It worked like a charm, a sweet, amber-colored charm.

And finally, we are including a drink that isn't a cocktail at all, but it is colder than ice cold, and you can make it yourself. Flavored vodkas are all the rage these days, and one of the most distinctive and briskly flavorful types is horseradish vodka. You can buy it at the store, if you can find it, or make it yourself in just one day with a few simple ingredients, starting with a bottle of vodka. Fine-tune the recipe to create just the right amount of horseradish bite you like: The longer you let it steep, the stronger the flavor of horseradish. Don't skimp on this drink; if you don't use a high-quality vodka, you run the risk of having it come out and tasting harsh. And that's a pity, because horseradish vodka can be bracingly cold. If you keep it in the freezer, you can enjoy shots of it at around about 0 degrees -- or use it to make a chilling Bloody Mary.

That's perfect for a hot summer's day.

Contact Daniel Neman at:
or 419-724-6155.



Pimm’s Cup

1 part Pimm’s No. 1

3 parts chilled 7-UP or ginger ale

Mint, cucumber, orange, and strawberry

Fill a tall glass or jug with ice. Mix in Pimm’s and 7-UP, and add mint, cucumber, orange, and strawberry.

Source: Pimm’s

Sea Breeze

1½ ounces vodka

4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice

1½ ounces cranberry juice

Lime wedge

Pour vodka into a chilled highball glass. Partially fill the glass with grapefruit juice and top with the cranberry juice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: Hawaii for Visitors


2 ounces gin

1 ounce sweetened lime juice (such as Rose’s)

1 small wedge lime

1 teaspoon sugar

Place sugar in a shallow dish. Rub the edge of a martini glass with the wedge of lime and dip it in the sugar -- the sugar should adhere to the rim of the glass.

Put ice in a shaker. Pour gin and lime juice over the ice, and shake well. Strain drink into prepared glass.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: Adapted from

Bourbon Slush

1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate

1 (12-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate

1 (46-ounce) can pineapple juice

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups strong brewed black tea

2 cups bourbon

1 (2-liter) bottle 7-UP

In a large bowl or container, mix together the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, sugar, tea, and bourbon. Transfer to shallow bowls or dishes and freeze overnight.

Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer and let stand for about 10 minutes. Chop with a wire whisk or potato masher to make a slushy consistency. Place scoops of the frozen slush into glasses and top off with the 7-UP.

Yield: 14 servings (you can save the frozen slush in the freezer for weeks or months)


Ultimate Cosmopolitan

1½ ounces Absolut Citron vodka (see cook’s note)

1 ounce Rose’s Lime Juice

¾ ounce Cointreau

1 ounce cranberry juice

Twist of lemon rind

Cook’s note: This drink’s creator says it is vital to use the best ingredients.

Put martini glass in refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Fill a cocktail shaker half-full with ice. Put vodka, sweetened lime juice, Cointreau, and cranberry juice into the shaker and shake vigorously for at least 1 minute; the shaker will become extremely cold. Strain the contents into the chilled glass. Add a twist of lemon rind and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: Derek Watridge

Southside Strangler

1½ ounces orange juice (see cook’s note)

1 ounce grapefruit juice

½ ounce Cointreau

1½ ounces lemon (or citron) vodka

1 maraschino cherry

Cook’s note: This drink is best if the juices have been freshly squeezed.

Add orange juice, grapefruit juice, Cointreau, and lemon vodka to a cocktail shaker. Add a handful or two of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass, add the cherry, and serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving

Tom Collins

2 ounces gin

2 ounces lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup (see cook’s note)

1 dash bitters

¼ cup cold club soda

1 slice lemon, for garnish

1 maraschino cherry, for garnish

Cook’s note: To make simple syurp, heat ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar to a boil. Stir while boiling until all the sugar dissolves, and allow to cool. It will keep a few weeks in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters. Cover and shake until the outside of the container is frosty, about 15 seconds. Strain into a highball glass full of ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a lemon slice and maraschino cherry.

Yield: 1 serving


Lemon Drop

2 ounces lemon vodka

½ ounce Cointreau

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar OR simple syrup

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, especially if you are using sugar instead of the syrup. Strain into a martini glass.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: Adapted from

Park Avenue

2 ounces gin

2 ounces fresh-squeezed red grapefruit juice

1 ounce triple sec

Juice from ½ lime

1 lime wedge, for garnish

Combine gin, grapefruit juice, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for about six seconds. Serve chilled in a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: New Amsterdam Gin

L.E.S. (Lower East Side)

2½ ounces gin

½ ounce fresh lime juice

¾ ounce honey

1 lime wedge

Microwave honey for 15 seconds. Combine gin, lime juice, and runny honey in a cocktail shaker, and fill with ice. Shake vigorously for about six seconds. Strain contents into classic martini glass or highball glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

Yield: 1 serving

Source: Adapted from New Amsterdam Gin

Horseradish Vodka

2 ounces fresh horseradish root

1 750-millilter bottle of good vodka

1 tablespoon celery seed

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Peel horseradish and cut into fine shreds with a vegetable peeler. Pour vodka into a 1-quart glass container, reserving the bottle, and add horseradish, celery seed, and peppercorns. Cover and allow to stand at room temperature for 20-24 hours or more. Start checking after around 20 hours to make certain the flavor does not become too strong for you.

Using a funnel and a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture back into the original bottle. Close tightly and store in freezer. Chill completely before serving.

Yield: 750 milliliters

Source: Adapted from the New York Times

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