June 21 was the first day of summer, and when the red gets up to triple digits, sometimes nothing is better than a strong, refreshing cocktail to take your mind off the sweat that’s rolling down your back. From icy cold beers to fancy (but easy) herb-infused cocktails, here are our Top 10 Drinks to Cool You Off This Summer.
10. “Lawnmower” beers
So-called lawnmower beers are light, yellow beers that taste best when chilled on ice and consumed after a sweaty afternoon of yard work. But after all that manual labor, why would you treat yourself to the cheapest case in the cooler? Refined refreshment can be had at a reasonable price if you know where to look. The beer blog Around the Keg likes the award-winning
9. Hard cider
More punch than a glass of chardonnay, but just as fruity and refreshing, hard cider comes in dozens of brands and flavors. If you don’t like beer but you’re too cool to be seen with a cocktail glass, a beer coozie can help conceal the label and make you look just as tough as your friends who sip swill. Ace Perry Cider is light and sweet, while Woodchuck 802 Dark and Dry is tart and full-bodied. Strongbow is super-dry but still refreshing.
* Bonus tip: ciders are great for those with Celiac’s disease, since most are made with fermented fruit instead of grains.
8. Ginger beer
Some cultures believe that the consumption of hot or peppery foods can cool you off in the dead of summer. No one wants to sip a toddy on a sweltering afternoon, but you could use a weekend to make your own spicy ginger beer. It’s easier than home-brewing regular beer because you don’t need to invest in any fancy machinery — the fermentation takes place in the bottle. Jay Francis recently posted his own recipe on Eating Our Words, which requires only four ingredients (ginger, water, sugar and yeast) and only a day of fermentation before it’s ready to drink.
– Take one ounce of peeled, fresh ginger, coarsely chopped, and simmer it in 1 liter of water with 1/2 cup of sugar for 15 minutes. You’ve just made ginger tea.Taste it and add more sugar to taste if needed. If you want your ginger to be more ginger-y add more chopped ginger to the liquid and simmer some more.
– Allow the liquid to cool. Strain off the ginger from the liquid and add 1/8 teaspoon of rapid rise or instant yeast to the liquid.
-Pour the liquid into your clean bottle and lock it. The ginger beer will be ready to drink the next day. Be careful opening the bottle.
* Bonus recipe: ginger tea, as described in the first step of Francis’ instructions, is great for upset stomachs and oncoming colds.
Sometimes called a cervesa preperada (in Mexico) or a bloody beer (in the U.S.), a michelada is a mixture of lime juice, hot sauce, yellow beer and various other ingredients. A michelada is not a prepackaged mix added to a beer, a beer bottled with artificial lime flavoring, or a can of clamato or V8 juice mixed with beer. The name is a bastardization of the Spanish slang for “my beer,” and much like a Bloody Mary, what goes into your own personal michelada mix is a unique blend of flavors tweaked to your own personal tastes. Here is my recipe, which you can modify as needed.
– fresh squeezed juice from one lime (fresh-squeezed lime is important because some bitter oils from the rind also end up in the mix)
– couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
– couple dashes soy sauce
– couple dashes hot sauce (Louisiana seems to have more vinegar than other hot sauces)
– couple twists of fresh ground black pepper
Shake everything together, then salt the rim of a frosty mug. Add a few dribbles of the mix, then carefully pour a well-chilled yellow beer into the mug. The salt and the frost can make the beer foam a lot. Add more mix if necessary. Then sit back in the shade and enjoy.
* Bonus recipe: Make several ounces of your own michelada mix to keep in the fridge for doctoring otherwise bland beers.
6. Piña colada
So far we’ve touched mostly on beer. And you might think a beverage like a piña colada is a little too froo-froo for you, but don’t discount those tiki drinks so quickly. Beyond the umbrella lies many a well-balanced cocktail that when mixed with a smooth, strong rum can have you passed out by the pool in no time.
Much like the michelada, a piña colada is not the place to cut corners. The trick to a good tiki drink is high-quality rum and fresh-squeezed juice. Do not use a mix. Do not use juice from a can. Instead, make your own with our recipe below.
To get fresh pineapple juice, you’ll have to slice and core a pineapple, cutting away the spiny outside. Throw the chunks of pineapple into a blender and puree until it’s smooth. Strain it if you don’t like too much pulp, but this step isn’t necessary.
– 1 ½ oz light rum. Cruzan Rum is a favorite light rum
– 1 ½ oz cream of coconut. Coco Lopez is a good brand that now comes in a convenient squeeze bottle.
– 4 oz your freshly juiced pineapple
– splash of milk or cream if desired
Blend all ingredients with ice until smooth. Add umbrella, and enjoy.
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