The following article is brought to you by So Over This’ newest staff writer, Lindsay Z.! She will be providing regular content, 4x a month. This site needs to get back a bit more to a woman’s perspective. You will still see regular content from me, and of course our monthly income update:
Forget the boring Sea Breeze and Cape Cod cocktails of the past and step into a whole new world of cocktails this spring. Nothing screams spring more than sitting out on your patio after a long day of work, sipping on an icy cold beverage, enjoying the sun and fresh air. Over the past year I have started to really enjoy craft cocktails and a nice cheese board. This could be because I am no longer in my twenties and can appreciate a good drink, or maybe it is because the “foodie” culture and craft drinks are now on the rise. Either way, I’m a huge fan of craft cocktails and spring-time food. I have learned how to make some amazing cocktails by watching TV, reading magazines, and checking out cocktail recipes online. Along with these cocktails there are some great appetizers and deserts that I think pair very nicely with my five favorite spring craft cocktails.
Before we talk about the recipes, I have to make it clear that making craft cocktails takes a little bit of time, but the finished product is well worth the love and effort put into the drink. When you are making craft cocktails you need stick to whole fresh ingredients. Don’t buy pre-made plastic bottle flavored syrups and never buy flavored vodka. If you use things like that it takes away from the “craft” part of your drink and makes it something boring and gross. To make homemade simple syrups is very simple, and to infuse your own vodka only takes a few days or even 24 hours. If you can plan ahead to what you think you want to drink on the week, or serve at your BBQ, then making your own syrups and infusing your own spirts will save you money.
Homemade flavored syrups last a long time in the fridge so you can continue to use it over time. Start your simple syrup the same way for each flavor. Two cups water to one cup sugar. Bring water and sugar mixture to a simmer then add in your flavoring. Set aside to cool once the sugar has dissolved. This spring, flavor your syrups to the season. One of my favorite flavors right now is lavender simple syrup. You can also flavor your syrup with something to give your cocktail a little tang by creating ginger simple syrup. This flavor is great to create your own ginger beer or a new twist on a Moscow Mule. To keep the Mojitos strong with minty flavor, make mint simple syrup and it can be used for a modified Mojito in case you don’t have any fresh mint in the house after a long day’s work. In my opinion fried seafood goes great with a mojito. I suggest making calamari or coconut shrimp to go with this drink. The dipping sauces are important with frying seafood; make three different sauces to go with your appetizer, a spicy mayo with sriracha, a lemon hollandaise sauce, and herb butter sauce with garlic, dill, and parsley.
On the Rocks
The classic and simple cocktails that are on the rocks are the easiest to make for a quick happy hour. For a new take on the classic Long Island cocktail, make a Cherry Long Island. This craft cocktail consists of white rum, gin, cheery infused vodka, triple sec, fresh cherry juice, lemon juice, and a splash of lemon lime soda. You next garnish this spring cocktail with a lemon wheel and a fresh black cherry. Drinking this over ice is sure to get the party started!
For a delicious appetizer to go with springtime drinks that are on the rocks, make flat bread pizzas on the grill. Buy fresh dough from your local pizzeria and have your guest build their own flat bread. Layout different toppings like pepper jack cheese, goat cheese, diced tomato, fresh basil, grilled sausage, and arugula. This is definitely a crowd please are very interactive!
For a new take on a super sugary Pina Colada, try this recipe I found online. Use two and a half ounces of golden rum, three ounces of fresh pineapple juice (or blended fresh pineapples), one ounce of coconut milk, and once ounce of simple syrup. Blend all of the ingredients in a blender and serve in a Collins glass. Garnish this drink with a fresh orange wedge and toasted coconut flakes. With this cocktail serve something salty like spicy guacamole and blue corn tortilla chips.
A springtime martini would be great to have poolside, so try a watermelon lime martini. First start this recipe by making homemade watermelon juice. This process is very easy, simply cut up watermelon and blend it in a blender than strain out the pulp. In a mixing tin, add one and quarter ounces of vodka, a half a cup of homemade watermelon juice, squeeze one large lime and shake. Strain the cocktail in a sugar rimmed martini glass and garnish with a cube of watermelon and lime zest on the top. This cocktail is very refreshing and dangerous if you know what I mean! A fresh salad would be a great addition to this cocktail. Try an arugula salad with feta cheese, strawberries, and sunflower seeds. Create vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. For different variations on this kind of salad think of different seasonal ingredients like cranberries, spring mix lettuce and almonds to switch it up. There is no wrong way to make a springtime salad.
Traditional Cocktail with a new Take
Bourbon and whisky cocktails are on the rise, and with the comeback of the Old Fashioned, I knew I needed to find a bourbon drink that would appeal to the masses. I’m a vodka drinker so this was hard to do, but I think this cocktail I found in Cosmo magazine screams spring while not being overly boozy. The Gold Rush consists of 1 oz. of homemade honey syrup, 1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 2 oz. of Bourbon. Combine all the ingredients into your ice filled shaker and strain over fresh ice. Hardy appetizers go best with this. Smoke potato wedges with homemade aioli dipping sauce would be perfect, or grill a cauliflower steak and top it with a golden raisin dressing and feta cheese. The appetizers are invents and fresh but also hardy enough to stand up to a bourbon or whiskey cocktail.
Whether you put your group drink in a pitcher, decanter, or drink dispenser is all the same in my book. What you put in the pitcher is what is most important. A great sangria recipe is hard to find in my opinion, so this spring, don’t waste your time with the lemon, Brandy and red wine recipes of the past. Turn it up a notch and grill some peaches, slice some green grapes, and cut up an orange to make a great drink to cool down with while sitting on the porch. Buy a local sweet white wine to start your spring sangria, add fresh fruit and a splash of simple syrup to eat started. If you want your sangria to have a little fizz add a splash of champagne. I think a hardy appetizer goes great with a sangria, chicken and beef skewers with a chimichurri dipping sauce.
Same cocktail three ways
When you aren’t sure what type of drinks your guests will enjoy start your with a crowd please top shelf vodka and build the drinks from there. Have different types of fizzy soda to top the drink off with such as lemon-lime or tonic. Using traditional liquors like Cointreau and Blue Curacao are boring; creating fruit purees is something special and new. I suggest making a mango puree, raspberry lime puree, and blueberry lemon puree. These purees will add color and texture to your cocktails while bringing a punch of flavor. Starting the drink with the same spirt and topping it off with the same soda makes adding these different flavors of fruit puree fun and different for your guest. With a variety of flavors offered in these similar cocktails appetizers are easy to pair with them. Stick with the traditional finger foods like veggies and dip, hummus and pita, or cheese and crackers. Upgrade your appetizers by adding some spices to your hummus or fancy cheese to your spread.
This spring is the perfect to experience new flavors and excite your cocktail taste buds. Of course an icy cold beer will all always satisfy my pallet, a craft cocktail taste so much better. Food and drinks are very important when hosting a party or having friends over for a happy hour. Make sure you try to pair your drinks with your snacks and never sell yourself or your friends short with cheap wine and box crackers. Try not to take too many shortcuts when creating the perfect craft cocktail, and always have a snack with your drink!