Here's To Summer Cocktails

There's an outpouring of choices for cool refreshmant

August 17, 2005|By Peter M. Gianotti | Peter M. Gianotti,NEWSDAY

It's hurricane season.

And time for a daiquiri, too.

Ice-cold drinks turn white-hot in the steamy season. And though a perfect Manhattan says autumn, and the grand Old-Fashioned welcomes winter, the Mojito-Margarita moment arrives when the weather turns sultry.

In the years before bartenders became mixologists, when cosmopolitan referred to a magazine and "sex on the beach" to an activity, the summer lineup typically called for a Collins, a Pina Colada and some type of rum punch.

"Everything is game now," said Anthony Giglio, author of Cocktails in New York (Rizzoli, 2004, $29.95). He added, "The range of ingredients is ever expanding.

"Every liqueur on the planet now is being unearthed and brought back to the bartender."

Latin influences, nuevo and traditional, have sparked variations on the Mojito, the rum-driven Cuban special; and the rise of the Caipirinha, the Brazilian drink made with cachaga, the sugarcane powerhouse.

A taste of Venice drifts by in a Bellini. The tropics go local in punches. Sangria turns domestic with different red wines. Such venerable names as Tanqueray, Bombay and Hendrick's fuel the gin game; rums run rampant; and there are enough vodkas to turn the Antarctic into an ice bar.

Search long enough, and you can find drinks with sufficient fruit and vegetables to set up their own stand or with ingredients as bizarre as wasabi and peanut butter. Producers and bars find innumerable ways to spur sales.

Bill Tikos, author of the forthcoming book Signature Cocktails (Mitchell Beazley), said: "I'm not much into tricky ingredients, normally associated with things like fruitcake. Same for sugary and creamy cocktails. ... I like my dessert after dinner." He favors a martini accented with Key lime juice.

Mixologist David Wondrich, whose writings include Killer Cocktails (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, $19.95), said: "In a summer cocktail, I like something not too sweet ... a long drink, with light body. Otherwise, it gets really sticky and not refreshing."

His idea of a first-class summer drink is called a Paloma: 2 ounces of tequila, some lime juice, a pinch of salt, grapefruit soda, ice cubes -- bingo. "Very good and very well put together."

Wondrich is responsible for the Italian-inspired cocktails at Annona, which opened last month in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. The selections there include a Spyder, driven by herbal liqueur, rye and a twist of orange peel; and Mazzacane, surely meant to slay the dog days of summer via grappa, lime juice, grapefruit soda, salt and a splash of maraschino liqueur.

"Sometimes a pinch of salt makes a drink work," said Wondrich. "It helps dry out the drink."

The origins of the most familiar cocktails always are open to debate.

Maybe the British in India did need that shot of tonic -- and the gin also helped cure maladies during sweltering days and nights. It probably made sense for soldiers to celebrate the end of the Spanish-American War by mixing Coca-Cola with rum and adding lime to ensure Cuba libre.

And a casual visitor to Yellowstone in full floral bloom could see why a bartender would spike a Margarita with curagao to make a Morning Glory.

A basic set of ingredients is needed for these and other cocktails: a range of top-shelf spirits, white, brown and bubbly wine; fresh fruit and fruit juices; mixers, garnishes and sweeteners; and seasoning such as salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

Lots of drinks have their own particular glassware, from the elegance of the champagne flute and the martini glass, to the tall highball, the balloon and the stocky old-fashioned.

"For summer cocktails, you need look no farther than what makes other drinks refreshing," said author

Giglio. "The higher the humidity, the more refreshing anything with citrus is. Fresh lemonade has that brilliant band of acidity running through it. Sweetened, but still puckery."

To Giglio, who spent two years researching his New York City cocktail book, what makes the new wave of drinks work is "a return to balance" in the sweet, the tart and the bitter. More important, he said, "There's so much dynamism right now."



Makes 2 drinks

6 to 8 ice cubes

3 scoops grapefruit sorbet

2 ounces prosecco

2 ounces vodka

4 mint leaves

Place 3 or 4 ice cubes in each of 2 martini glasses to chill. Combine sorbet, prosecco and vodka in a blender until soft and liquid.

Drain martini glasses. Pour liquid into chilled glasses and garnish with fresh mint.

- From Bottega del Vino restaurant in Manhattan

Per serving: 305 calories; 0 grams protein; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 33 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 55 milligrams sodium


Serves 1

1 ounce white rum

1 ounce dark rum

2/3 ounce triple sec or Cointreau

1 ounce fresh lime juice

2/3 ounce sugar syrup

1/3 ounce grenadine

3 ounces fresh orange juice

3 ounces pineapple juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a small wedge of pineapple set on the rim.

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