The Whiskey Smash, resurrected and tweaked many years ago at the Rainbow Room by Dale DeGroff, is one of the best summertime bourbon drinks. Cold and refreshing, the mix of tart citrus and sweet mint/fruit makes for a delicious balance with the whiskey. (And it’s also, in my opinion, a better drink than the far more popular Mint Julep. It’s certainly a more complex one.)
Here is a variation with strawberries from Benny Hurwitz, bartender at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in D.C. This is an easily modifiable cocktail, so you can change up the ingredients based on what you have, as long as you stick to the same basic concept and proportions. And, as always, use a good bourbon.
Adapted from a recipe by Benny Hurwitz of the Jack Rose Saloon in Washington, D.C, after Dale DeGroff.
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
1/2 Lemon (cut into 3 wedges)
2-3 Strawberries (depending on size)
5 Mint Leaves
Muddle the strawberries, lemon and mint with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add the whiskey and shake with ice. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and strawberry.
For a stronger drink, you can increase the amount of bourbon to 2 oz.
Along with Torrontés wines from Argentina (which I wrote about last week), one of my favorite types of wine to drink during summer are rosés. They’re refreshing, fruity, lovely to look at — what more could you ask for?
Unfortunately, a lot of rosés aren’t very good. Although this is true of most (all?) types of wine, rosé seems to suffer especially. So many of them are too sweet and one-dimensional. You’re just as likely to pour the bottle down the sink as finish it.
Fortunately, I’ve found several so far this season that I’ve enjoyed. One of them is the 2014 Rosado Rosé from Marqués de Cáceres, a noted Spanish producer of Rioja wines.
The Marqués de Cáceres Rosado Rosé 2014 is a coral-red color, standing in contrast to the pale pinks of most French rosés. It has a moderately intense aroma, with the smell of ripe red berries paired with a more subtle floral bouquet.
This wine is crisp and medium-bodied — a little fuller than I expected — slightly tart and very fruity. It’s a nicely restrained rosé, dry and well balanced. You could enjoy this as an aperitif or pair it with Mediterranean food, pasta, or grilled chicken. An excellent value for the price.
From the mid-1840s until after the Civil War, the smash was America’s favorite mixed drink. Called by Jerry Thomas “a julep on a small plan,” the smash is a simple-but-delicious cocktail that emphasizes fresh ingredients, minimal preparation, and bold flavors. It’s the perfect style of drink for the summertime.
A smash is usually composed of a base spirit (whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, etc.), fresh fruit or herbs, and lots of crushed ice. It is meant to be cold and refreshing, a little liquid treat. Traditionally this was a small drink, intended to be quaffed quickly. But like most of us, it’s gotten bigger over the years.
I set out to make a drink with great summer flavors — tequila and watermelon go wonderfully together — and to ensure that anyone could easily make one at home. Nothing fancy here. But it’s still delicious.
5 oz. Fresh Watermelon (approximately 8 one-inch chunks)
8 oz. Crushed Ice
In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the watermelon with the lime and agave until well combined. Add tequila and crushed ice. Shake vigorously, then pour unstrained into a goblet or Margarita glass.
The Pimm’s Cup, so beloved in England and New Orleans, is one of summer’s finest beverages. Refreshing, colorful, delicious, and lightly alcoholic, the Pimm’s Cup is easy to make and even easier to drink.
The Pimm’s Cup — the most popular drink served at Wimbledon and the Chelsea Flower Show — is built around Pimm’s No. 1. A sweet-spicy-herbal combination of gin and various (secret) flavors, Pimm’s No. 1 was created in the mid-19th century by English barman James Pimm.
The cocktail is a simple highball, made up of Pimm’s No. 1, a mixer, and a fruit garnish. The mixer is typically English lemonade (a carbonated variety, akin to American 7-Up or Sprite), but can also be ginger ale or ginger beer, or even Champagne, which makes it a Pimm’s Royale. The garnish is almost always a cucumber (this has replaced the original borage), and this is sometimes accompanied by a mint sprig, lemon slices, and a variety of other fruits.
1 1/2 oz. Limoncello 1 oz. Gin 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice 8-10 Mint Leaves Club Soda
Gently muddle the mint leaves with lemon juice in the bottom
of a mixing glass. Add the limoncello and gin and shake with ice. Strain into
an ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Pallini Limoncello Liqueur Final Grade: B+ Price: $26 (750ml)
Summer may be over, but who says that means you have to stop drinking summery drinks? Certainly not me. It could be the coldest day of winter and I'll still drink a well mixed Daiquiri or Gin and Tonic.
I realize this is a contrarian position, but cold drinks during the cold season put me in mind of warm summer days, lounging by the pool or enjoying the beach. (Granted, I don't actually do those things. But still.)
The classic summertime Italian liqueur is the Limoncello, a simple but delicious combination of grain alcohol (basically vodka), sugar and lemons. Sounds delicious, right? It is, assuming it's blended right. If not, it can taste like Lemonheads soaked in turpentine.
One of the brands that does it right is Pallini. This imported Limoncello is made from lemons grown on Italy's Amalfi coast. That right there makes me think of warm breezes, beautiful sunsets, and the smell of fresh citrus in the air.
It has a lovely bouquet of lemons — just smelling it puts you in mind of summertime, even if the weatherman says otherwise. The scent of lemons is one of my favorite aromas and the Pallini is wonderful.
Limoncello should be drunk very cold — either neat out of the freezer or on the rocks. The first sip is delicious. There's the taste of lemon candy, the sweetness combined with just the right amount of tart, and also a creamy sensation. It has a smooth, velvety mouthfeel that is quite pleasant. Unlike some limoncellos (limoncelli?), this one doesn't have that cloying sweetness that becomes unbearable after one sip.
There's no alcohol bite to Pallini Limoncello, but you can feel the warmth spread through your chest as you drink it. (This mild character is reflected in the relatively low alcohol volume; just 26%.) The flavor is strong, authentic lemon — the distillers have really done an excellent job of capturing the essence of the fruit in this liqueur.
I didn't try mixing it in any cocktails, although there are some recipes on the Pallini website. I'm sure there are some delicious combinations in which it could be used.
For now, though, I'm just enjoying it on its own. Given the sugar content, Pallini Limoncello isn't something you'd want to drink every day. But for those times when you're craving a little taste of summer, this is an excellent choice.