After this winter, I am so ready for warm weather and sunshine. One could say I am definitely over the winter blahs and blues! Spring has finally arrived, which means summer is just over the horizon. When I envision summer, I like to think about lounging by the pool on a lazy afternoon and sipping something cool, crisp and delicious. So in this post I would like to pay homage to my favorite “Summer Sips.”
One thing I love about summer, besides the warm weather, is all the fresh fruits and herbs that make for fabulous mixers in my beverages. Whether it is water, liquor or wine, I enjoy making my drinks as fresh and natural as possible. I am not much on sweet tea or overly sweet alcoholic beverages; I guess my palate just lends to more clean flavors. And using fresh ingredients, like fruits and herbs, helps cut back on calories and sugar. So what, you may ask, is my go-to “Summer Sips?”
I am first and foremost a wine afficionado, but when I have to stray from my favorite glasses of vino, I love a good vodka. And the time of year usually determines how I drink it. Winter months may lend more to martinis and olives stuffed with blue cheese, but summer months call out for cool, crisp beverages with lots of fresh ingredients.
It is funny to notice that, as I have grown older and my taste has changed, I have also changed my preference of vodka. Ten years ago, it would have been Absolute all the way, but nowadays I am in love with Grey Goose, no flavors please. The beauty of having a vodka that isn’t flavored is you can create your own unique twists on drinks. Here are just a few of my favorite things to mix with vodka:
Club soda: This non-calorie, bubbly mixer is great to give your dink the needed fizz. And it lends to any flavor you may be adding to your beverage.
Fresh fruits: Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime slices are perfect things to fuse into a vodka beverage, and if you get organic, even better. Pineapple or berries are other delicious, healthy items; simply mix and match to your heart’s desire. If you get the frozen version, you can even use them as ice cubes. What is great about all these fruits is the natural sugars that help mellow the sharpness you can get from vodka. Last, but not least, is watermelon. This fruit is so refreshing in a drink. So I like to take half a watermelon, cube it up, then throw it in a blender. Simply strain the pulp into a jar and you have fresh juice to add to your beverage.
Cucumber: A favorite flavored vodka, if I am going to have one, is by Crop Vodka (http://www.cropvodka.com/home.php). Their cucumber infused vodka is not only organic, but absolutely delicious with club soda, ice and maybe a slice or two of fresh cucumber. By far one of the most refreshing beverages that makes a great pool-side drink for a hot summer afternoon.
Herbs: Basil, mint and even cilantro are the perfect herbs to infuse in a vodka beverage. You can gently bruise the leaves and let the natural essence absorb in your drink. It just adds another layer of flavor. Don’t feel you have to stick to these three, you can use any herb you like; it’s all about trial and error.
If you don’t care for vodka, you can add another light-bodied spirit that suits you better. Light rum and clear tequila are other spirits that can be easily infused with any of the ingredients previously mentioned. If you don’t drink alcohol, these fresh and healthy mixers are great with a glass of water or iced tea. Or mix them with a sparkling water for something fizzy-it is definitely better for you than a sugary soda.
And now, because I am a wine-lover at heart, I always have some sort of favorite summer vino on hand, and this summer will be no exception. A couple of months ago I attended a wine dinner where I so happily became aquainted with a lovely White Burgundy. This wine was very light in body, but had that distinctive White Burgundy tartness which only comes from the soil of this particular region in France. The best part about this wine was it only cost around $16 a bottle-a definite “bang for your buck” kind of vino.
Produced by Marie-Pierre Manciat, the label of this wine is Mâcon “Les Morizottes” from the Appellation Mâcon Protégée. This wine received kudos from wine connoisseur Robert Parker, who gave it a 91 rating (http://www.bestwinesonline.com/blog/?p=731). So even if you have do a little searching online or through a local wine merchant to purchase some bottles, the price alone for such an outstanding White Burgundy is worth the effort.
So there you have it, just a few of my favorite “Summer Sips” for 2014. Light, refreshing and somewhat healthy drinks to keep you cool when the temperature starts to rise.
Until next time, cheers!