One of life’s simple pleasures is lounging outside on a warm evening with a flavorful cool drink in hand. Whether it’s enjoyed against a backdrop of laughter and chatter of friends or family – or you’ve grabbed a few stolen moments of solo reflection amongst a chorus of treefrogs – a special beverage makes the ordinary feel extra.
Just like décor and fashion evolve over time, beverages have trends, too. The pandemic had a huge influence on what people started to experiment with at home in the kitchen – and cocktails have been no exception. Many have learned creating something delicious and inspired doesn’t have to be so complicated that a mixologist is needed on stand-by.
One trend really took off in 2020 (when many of us were working from home and growing things to keep us happier and healthier) and is happily continuing into 2021. “Garden-to-glass” cocktails feature ingredients straight from the garden. Harvesting your own herbs and other ingredients – or hitting the local farmer’s market – offers the ultimate level of freshness while adding an extra-personal touch to any concoction.
A second trend gaining more attention over the last year is highly-flavored mocktails. Those who don’t drink or have made a choice to cut back on alcohol don’t have to miss out on delicious beverages or settle for a Shirley Temple. Low-ABV (alcohol by volume) spirits are a category of products that have exploded into the market, offering plenty of flavor without the booziness.
The first is inspired by an alcohol-free recipe shared by Watch What You Eat – Eat Well to Live Well:
- cup watermelon pieces (1/2” – 1 inch in size)
- 5-6 fresh mint leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- ¾ cup sparkling apple cider, chilled
- 4-5 ice cubs
- 1 tsp agave (adjust according to the sweetness of the watermelon)
- Slices of lime for garnish
- In a bowl or jar, add watermelon pieces. Muddle to extract juice, then add the fresh mint and muddle further to bruise the leaves and release the flavors.
- Transfer the watermelon and mint mixture to your serving glass, then add ice, lime juice and sparkling apple cider. Mix gently and add sweetness if needed.
- Garnish with additional mint and fresh lime slices.
- For some extra zing in this recipe, we suggest adding a bit of alcohol-free Lyre’s Orange Sec. It’s similar to orange curacao or triple sec and is delicious with the flavor of watermelon. If you do want to add alcohol, you can’t go wrong with a splash of rum.
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces gin*
- 4-5 slices cucumber
- Club soda to top sprig of mint
- In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle cucumber slices, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add gin, along with ice, and shake. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass, then top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.
- *If you would like to make an alcohol-free version of this recipe, look for Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative. It makes an excellent substitution for gin or vodka.
Rosemary GreyhoundOur third suggestion for what to put into your hand while decompressing from a long week features a kick of citrus with the aromatic rush of fresh rosemary. We found HGTV’s incredibly easy Rosemary Greyhound recipe and had to try it:
- 2 ounces vodka
- ½ ounce rosemary simple syrup*
- 4 ounces grapefruit juice
- Rosemary sprigs for garnish
- In a glass of ice, add simple syrup, vodka and grapefruit juice. Mix gently and garnish with rosemary. (Breathe deeply and smile.)
- *To make this rosemary-infused simple syrup, heat two cups of water and two cups of sugar over medium heat for about five minutes. While still warm, pour the syrup over six sprigs of rosemary in a bottle or other sealable container. Allow to cool completely before using. The syrup will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
Now that you’re armed and ready with three perfect, low-stress summer beverages, everyone else would probably be very willing and happy to bring the snacks... Just put a casual cotton woven Sticky Toffee table runner on your outdoor table, add a couple of mason jars of fresh flowers, and send a few texts to invite your friends over for a visit. Cheers!