Forget sweet & sugary, these summer cocktails lean more towards the tart side… Nature rewards New Englanders for enduring long, cruel winters by providing beautiful summer days and lovely evenings. Our backyards become extensions of our living areas — what better way to enjoy your private oasis than by kicking back with a well-made cocktail?
Driven by a boozy version of the foodie movement, the craft cocktail is experiencing a renaissance in bars and restaurants across the country. Serious mixologists are mining vintage bar books for forgotten recipes, searching the world for hard-to-find ingredients and exploring combinations beyond the familiar standards.
Slightly bitter European liqueurs and aperitifs are critical components in many of these drinks. Made from natural ingredients such as roots, tree bark and flowers, these beverages once were prized for their perceived medicinal qualities. Adding a bitter liqueur creates a more nuanced taste experience and keeps sweeter alcohols from overpowering a cocktail.
Recently imported to the Unites States, Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is an obscure Italian wine-based aperitif that has been in production since 1891. Related to the vermouth family, Cocchi has been highly coveted by drink-meisters because it closely resembles the old Kina Lillet, which lost some of its unique, bitter notes in a 1985 reformulation.
Saints & Sinners
Dubbed “Saints and Sinners” by Richard Branson’s New Jersey restaurant, Ninety Acres, this drink introduces Cynar to the power duo of St-Germain and Prosecco. St-Germain elderberry liqueur has been enjoying recent popularity, especially for its role in thirst-quenching summer cocktails. Cynar, an Italian, artichoke-flavored liqueur, adds some heft, color and offbeat flavoring to this otherwise light affair.
In rocks glass filled with ice pour:
– 1½ ounces Prosecco
– 1 ounce Cynar
– 1 ounce St-Germain
Top off with a bit more Prosecco
Corpse Reviver #2
“Corpse Reviver #2” is a pre-prohibition hangover remedy that has become a born-again hit thanks to the recent availability of Cocchi Americano. Pleasing to a wide range of palates, the subtle complexities of this cocktail belie the fact that it is ridiculously easy to make. The main ingredients are in equal measures: gin, fresh lemon juice, Cointreau and Cocchi Americano with a dash of absinthe. Shake vigorously with ice, strain and serve straight up.
The “Aperol Spritz” has long been a favorite in Venetian cafes. It is quickly making its way to upscale restaurants and bars in the U.S.
Aperol, a spicy orange aperitif, mixed with Prosecco, a sparkling Italian wine, makes for a colorful and tasty, low-alcohol alternative to higher-octane drinks. The traditional Aperol Spritz is served with about four ice cubes in either a rocks glass or a wine glass. Pour 1 ounce Aperol, then 3 ounces chilled Prosecco, add a splash of soda water and garnish with a slice of orange.
Based on a drink served by Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville’s Davis Square, the “Backyard,” with its fresh cucumber flavor, is tart and refreshing, mixed with Sauvignon Blanc and muddled cucumbers, Prosecco and St-Germain again provide the backbone for
a drink that screams summer.
This cocktail can be made by the glass or by the pitcher, depending on your entertaining needs.
To make a pitcher:
Cut one third of a cucumber horizontally into 1/8” slices and toss into a pitcher. Cut a third into spears about 3 inches long to garnish the glasses. Dice the remaining third and muddle in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 cup St-Germain, shake and strain into a pitcher. Add 1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc, 1 bottle Prosecco, stir gently and serve in
ice-filled glasses with cucumber spears.
By the glass:
Same process, reduce proportions to 1 ounce St-Germain, 3 ounces each of Sauvignon Blanc and Prosecco.