After a long, cold winter, spring has finally sprung. People are emerging from their homes after months of being cooped up, and many of them are looking for fun ways to enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having recently. It's the perfect time to invite some friends over for an afternoon barbecue or picnic. Of course, every good host or hostess likes to have an appropriate cocktail on hand to offer guests, so why not try some fresh, new springtime cocktails?
During this time of year, the flavor profile people crave is fresh, light, and fruity. Overly sweet, dessert - like cocktails and cordials are done to death throughout the holidays and Valentine's Day; now, as the flowers are blooming and the birds have started singing again, people want their taste buds woken up and refreshed. There are many simple, fantastic cocktails that do just that, and they're easy to make at home.
The first cocktail, which I call the Springtime Sipper, is made with orange and lemon vodkas, blood orange liqueur, peach Schnapps, orange juice, and club soda. It has a pretty, peach color and light, fruity flavor, so it refreshes the senses.
Many vodka companies make orange and lemon flavors, but I am partial to those put out by Svedka; they are inexpensive yet have a great flavor. For the blood orange liqueur, I enjoy the one put out by Dekuyper.
To make the Springtime Sipper, pour 1/4 oz each of the orange and lemon vodkas and the blood orange liqueur over ice in a martini shaker. If you do not have a jigger or other measuring device at your disposal, always remember that 1/4 oz can be measured as a "one count" (meaning you only pour for long enough to count to the number one). Add one ounce (measured as a "four count" - count to four while pouring) of peach schnapps, and a splash of orange juice, then shake vigorously for a few seconds (until the shaker feels cold). Pour all of the above - including the ice! - into a tumbler or highball glass and top it with club soda. Add a straw and a sprig of mint or rosemary for color, and your guests will think you're the greatest bartender since Isaac on "The Love Boat."
Rosemary is not just a fantastic springtime garnish; it's also a wonderfully green, fresh flavor for springtime cocktails. I like to make a rosemary lemon simple syrup by boiling the peels of two lemons, three sprigs of rosemary, two cups of sugar, and two cups of water in a medium saucepan. This syrup can be used in a variety of cocktails, but my newest favorite is the Springtime Mule, which is made by shaking 3/4 ounce (a three - count) of the rosemary lemon simple syrup with 3/4 ounce of vodka, then topping it with ginger beer and serving it over ice. Mule Cocktails are traditionally served in copper mugs, but any vessel would work just as well; this cocktail tastes just as good in a plain old water glass!
Elderflower liqueurs like the one made by St. Germain are VERY popular right now, and add a refreshingly complex, floral flavor to cocktails. Mix it with vodka or gin, add a little lemon juice, shake over ice and voila! A springtime martini is born.
These new springtime cocktails will take seconds to make and leave your guests wondering when you found the time to go to bar tending school. They may even inspire you to get creative and invent your own seasonal cocktails! Just remember to focus on fresh, green, and/or fruity flavors that evoke the refreshing feeling of burgeoning springtime, and enjoy!