There's a reason most summer barbecue pairs best with lighter beers: It's hot outside and you want a thirst-quenching and cool beverage, something that you can drink for hours. Summer cocktails should also follow this rule. So at your next outdoor party, offer up refreshing concoctions that pack a little less punch, and also be sure to make use of the season's fresh fruits and herbs. Here are 21 recipes to get you started; make them to individual taste or tinker with the recipes and serve them in a punch bowl (or, for big bashes, a trash can).
Sparkling Cider With a Bourbon Kick
Chef Paul Virant is well known for using local ingredients in the contemporary American cuisine he serves up at Perennial Virant, near the Green City Market in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. He's modernizing midwestern cuisine, but his unusual plates often reflect and old-school love of canning and preserves as well as classic Illinois staples like beef loin and baby bass.
Just like the cuisine, Perennial Virant's cocktail menu changes seasonally and is comprised of drinks that make use of locally prepared ingredients designed to compliment Chef Virant's work. Bartender Garret Sweet designed his cocktail "Your Favorite Flannel" to be keep cozy during this seemingly endless winter.
Sweet says the drink grew out of conversations with the men behind Virtue Cider, a Michigan-based craft company. "The idea was to take the rich and warming flavors of bourbon, chai tea, and apple cider and brighten them by incorporating a sparkling wine from Burgundy." Effervescence is a good way to prepare a diner's palate for a multi-course dinner, which suited Sweet's purposes: "Its flavor profile really complements Chef Paul Virant's style."
Sweet suggests pairing "Flannel" with braised meat dishes. "The sweet and savory components of the rabbit combination and roasted sunchoke dishes on our current menu stand out as particularly special pairings with this cocktail," he explains.
Your Favorite Flannel
Fill a champagne flute half way with the Cremant. Shake ingredients separately and pour over slowly. Garnish the rim with a grill marked "plaid" apple segment.