The yardwork is done and the kids are in bed. Temperatures haven't started to cool off quite yet and you're left with nothing to do but sit and enjoy the remaining bit of sunshine after a perfect day. The only thing missing is a refreshing beverage in your hand.
After a long, warm day, is there anything better than hanging out on your patio or balcony and enjoying a bright, refreshing cocktail? Even with the holiday season behind us, brightly colored beverages give that summertime barbecue the extra some'n some'n it needs to really stand out.
Jay Odland, manager for Happy Harry's Bottle Shops in Fargo, agrees.
"People enjoy colorful drinks in the summer, since you can really have a lot of fun with the bright, vibrant colors of the summer season," Odland says. "Color adds a lot to the flavor and desirability of the drink."
Utilizing fresh garden ingredients — like herbs and fruits — makes a world of difference in the flavor profile of whatever spirit you choose.
Justin Blanford, general manager for 99 Bottles in Moorhead, says summertime is the best for experimenting with fresh ingredients.
"Everything is brighter, more flavorful, the color is better — the drinks don't look so boring," he says. "And it's summer. Use fresh ingredients — they're everywhere right now and they're dirt cheap! It's not like in the dead of winter when it costs $1.50 a lime."
Not only do these drinks bring out fresh flavors and bright colors, they're also really easy to make.
"I think there's something about summer that motivates people," Blanford says. "Maybe it's because we have a little more daytime so we feel like we have more time on our hands to (make cocktails), as opposed to winter when we are getting through that very short day. Summertime, we are looking to enjoy ourselves and create things. It brings people's artistic side out, their passionate side, their creative side."
To beat the heat and boost your cocktail game, try one of these recipes recommended by Odland and Blanford.
Alternative bloody mary
This drink, which Blanford says is a great cure for the morning after a wild night out, uses beets to produce a bright red-fuchsia color.
"The idea here is it's kind of an alternative for a bloody mary," Blanford says. "Bloody marys are good for a hangover the next day when you wake up and it's hot and you've been drinking the day before. Beets are really good for you, too. They're full of antioxidants and they really help with hangovers. I like a margarita because it's tequila, it's fresh, it's summery and you use a lot of fresh citrus, which I think just wakes you up for the rest of the day."
2 oz. white tequila
1 oz. beet puree
1/2 oz. agave syrup
7/8 oz. lime juice
Add ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously to combine. Pour over ice in glass and garnish with beetroot circles.
Use Italian Campari to balance out the sweetness of the pressed-sugarcane Cachaca to create a fun, summery take on the classic Brazilian drink.
"Measuring things correctly is very important when making cocktails. You can have imbalances that can happen very quickly," Blanford says. "This drink is really good with Mexican food — tacos, carne asada — anything with fresh cilantro and lime. Real zesty food, spicy food. The freshness of it will work well with that."
Caipirinha with a Twist
2 oz. Cachaca
1/2 lime (cut into quarters)
1 oz. Campari
Dash of agave syrup
Muddle limes and agave syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and ice, shake and pour (don't strain) into glass.
Combining many complex ingredients results in a summery drink to relieve any thirst.
"This drink would pair well with something light, like a salad or a sandwich or anything unpretentious," Blanford says. "You already put that much effort into the drink. It should be the star of the show."
Bye Bye Birdie
3/4 oz. Svedka Rose vodka
3/4 oz. Benedictine
3/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice
Combine all ingredients together in a shaker and pour over ice. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Simple but delicious
Rehydrating as you're dehydrating is the name of the game with this drink. Combining coconut water and alcohol brings about a simple beverage that pairs great with a burger — but you might want to drink it on its own.
"Coconut water is a healthy alternative to using soda as a mixer," Blanford says. "Those tend to be very sugary and sweet."
Coconut Water Highball
1 oz. high-proof rum
6 oz. coconut water
Build over ice in a highball glass. Stir and garnish with a pineapple and orange slice.
In the nick of....
This award-winning beverage brings summer to a whole new level with thyme-infused simple syrup and pineapple juice.
Just in Thyme
1 1/2 oz. light rum
1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice (fresh or bottled)
1/2 oz. thyme simple syrup
1/2 oz. Benedictine
2/3 oz. lime juice
5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Shake well with ice. Pour into glass and garnish with lime twist and star anise.
"This is one of the few cocktails I go out of my way to make at home," Blanford says.
3 oz. rye
1/2 oz. simple syrup
5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. In a second glass, rinse with absinthe and pour in stirred ingredients.
Red, white and booze
Keep your Independence Day celebration rolling all summer with this beautiful layered beverage.
"After a long winter, the nicely layered bright colors of that signature cocktail really pops for entertaining purposes to help us all soak up this weather as much as we can," Odland says.
Red, White and Blue Colada
3 oz. rum
3 oz. Blue Curacao
6 oz. pineapple Juice
4 1/2 oz. cream of coconut
1 cup strawberries
2 cups ice
Add rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and ice to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour 2/3 of mixture in a pitcher and set aside. Add strawberries to remaining mixture in blender and blend until smooth. Pour strawberry mixture into drinking glass and add 1/3 of pineapple mixture on top. Add remaining pineapple mixture and Blue Curacao into blender and blend until smooth. Pour the blue mixture on top of pineapple mixture in the glass and enjoy!