By Mini Ribeiro
Beat the summer heat with some refreshing cocktails. Light and breezy is the way to go when preparing summer cocktails. Use spirits such as gin and vodka, which are lighter and with interesting additions, can be visually appealing too.
As summer tightens its sweaty grip, the demand for refreshment grows. Summer means sangrias and chilled beers but cocktails are also hugely welcome. Everyone enjoys a fancy infusion, but some prefer minimalist ingredients. Some times a simple cocktail is a safer bet and a more enjoyable one. Many a time bartenders have messed my cocktail in their bid to be innovative. So less is more is my mantra.
Mojito, a rum and muddled mint-based concoction of Cuban origin, is one of summer's most refreshing cocktails. I recently had one with a cucumber. It was different.
According to Kunal Pawar, Grand Hyatt Goa, “Summer cocktails should be flavourful, refreshing and simple to make. Vodka is the best suited spirit that can be used for making summer cocktails.” He adds, “Vodka is ideal as it mixes well with almost anything, all you need is a few mixers and liqueurs and you can make a variety of cocktails, each with their own distinct taste. Other beverages like white rum, sparkling wine and beers are most suitable for a scorching summer afternoon.” Yes, Vodkas lend themselves well to cocktails. Belvedere Red Vodka is a great choice.
Ameya Sharma, Mixologist and ace barteneder, Tulleeho however believes gin based cocktails are more apt for summer as those are more refreshing. “Ginger ale when added to a summer cocktails makes it even more delicious and refreshing,” he reveals.
I personally think, summer is the time for fruits, so one should be creative and use fruits in cocktails. Especially mangoes and Goa is blessed with delicious varieties, so make the most of those.
Kunal agrees with me. “A variety of fruits available in summer especially mangoes, fresh lychees, etc, can be simply used by muddling or blending it with other ingredients of a cocktail.”
No matter what ingredients you use to prepare your cocktail, don’t forget to chill your glass with ice, beforehand, if need be. And yes, the visual appeal in a cocktail is of primary importance. After all, we drink with our eyes first. So don’t forget that twisted orange peel, or slice of lemon, or sprig of mint. Generally the fruits used in a cocktail are used for a garnish.
Trust me, one need not step into a fancy bar to enjoy a summer cocktail. It is easy to prepare one at home, provided you have all the ingredients and yes, a streak of innovation. Just follow the recipe, be imaginative and a great summer cocktail can be ready. Make sure you know your ingredients well so that you can play around with the flavours and proportions.
It isn’t summer if you are not sipping a long, refreshing, iced cocktail. C’mon go and make yourself one!
Mango and Basil Caipiroska
Recipe by Kunal Pawar, Manager - Pool Bar and Grill and Capiz Bar, Grand Hyatt Goa
Fresh mango 6 cubes, basil 4 leaves, mango nectar 120 ml, lime juice 30 ml, sugar syrup 15 ml, ice cube 10 ice cubes, vodka 60ml
Muddle mango cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add basil leaves and muddle lightly. Add ice cubes, pour over mango nectar, lime juice and sugar syrup. Add vodka and shake well. Pour in an old fashioned glass and garnish it with basil leaves
Belvedere (Red) Summer Breeze
Recipe by Claire Smith Head of Spirit Creation and Mixology for Belvedere Vodka
1.5 oz Belvedere (Red), 1/2 oz St German Elderflower Liquer, 2 oz apple juice, 1 oz cranberry juice
Build over ice and garnish with a slice of apple.
(Mini Ribeiro is a Food Writer and Columnist)