Spring is finally here! Apparently everyone is ready for it but the weather, which seems determined to keep us just cold enough to keep shivering. Hoping for the “if you build it they will come” result, I’m putting my top ten list of libations I can’t wait to drink while enjoying those first warm spring days.
The first truly spring like day, my mind will be entirely on getting outside to sit at my bistro table in the garden. I will rely entirely on a no fuss porch pounder like a beautiful bottle of rosé wine. Happily, rosé has been on the rise in the states, gaining popularity on menu’s and shelf space in many a retailer. Rosé is made by allowing the just pressed juices from red grapes to sit momentarily with the skins to impart a slight rosy hue to the wine. They are an excellent food wine as well, pairing nicely with barbecue, Asian dishes, and bold flavors like garlic. My personal choices to start off the season would be Commanderie de Peyrassol, Sachs Lichine, Calcu, and my favorite “porch pounder” Whispering Angel.
2: Orange Wine
Orange wine was a happy discovery recently. I had a bottle of white I bought in Italy this past November that when I opened it, I discovered was a brilliant shade of amber. I had never tasted an Orange wine, not actually made from oranges, and was completely blown away. Orange wines are made in the style of a red wine. The juice from the white grapes marinates with the skins of the grapes, imparting a light orange to dark amber color to the wine. It also allows for a complexity of flavor and tannins that can allow the Orange wine to stand up to an assortment of meats including roasted, normally a pairing reserved for red wines. I haven’t yet found a favorite, but I highly recommend going into your local wine shop, asking for an orange wine, and taking home whatever you may find.
3: Mint Julep
The Mint Julep is a southern classic, usually associated with the Kentucky Derby. However this easy thirst quencher is excellent even when you are not watching the ponies race around the track. Since bourbon is the major flavor here, make sure you are using a high quality favorite.
8 mint leaves
1/4 oz simple syrup
In a silver Julep cup or a highball glass, muddle the mint and the simple syrup. Pack the cup with crushed ice, pour in the bourbon, and stir . Top off the glass with enough crushed ice to create a dome and add a dash of bitters if you feel so inclined. Garnish with a sprig of mint and get ready to go to the races!
4: Carrot Mimosa
Many cocktail menus have been entertaining the more vegetal side of ingredients and I am thrilled by the onslaught of not so sweet, herbaceous, and feel good that these combinations have been bringing to the glass. About time veggies made it to something more fun then a juice cleanse. What could possibly be more suited for your Easte brunch then having some Carrot Mimosas?! The Easter bunny would be so proud! Now I can have my veggies and drink them too!
1 part carrot Juice
1 part Prosecco
Mix both ingredients into a champagne flute or coupe and garnish with a baby carrot!
Nothing welcomes warm weather quite like a Mojito. Seriously this Cuban cocktail is crafted with just five ingredients and served up with a warm breeze. It is a bit more labor intensive then I had initially planned for this post, but there really is nothing quite as satisfying as sipping a cool mojito on a warm day.
6 mint leaves
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4oz lime juice
1 1/2 oz white rum
1 1/2 oz club soda
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the mint. Add ice, simple syrup, lime juice, and white rum. Shake well and pour the entire contents into a highball glass. Don’t strain it, you are going to want the mint. Top off with the club soda and lean into the warm weather.
This classic cocktail was crafted pre Prohibition and sadly forgotten during the Noble Experiment. Luckily, its making a comeback and justly so! The beautiful florals and brigh lemons make for a refreshing wake up call to your taste buds. The fact that the delicate indigo color with a bright red cherry at the bottom of the glass resembles a flower doesn’t hurt the spring revival either.
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqeuer
1/4 oz Creme de violette
3/4 oz lemon juice
In a shaker with ice, combine the gin, maraschino liqeuer, Creme de Violette, and lemon juice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a maraschino cherry in the bottom of the glass. Cheers to spring and those who are bringing this delicious cocktail back!
7: La Paloma
Though the margarita may be better known, in part to the frozen cocktail craze and ready made cocktail pouches, the Paloma is truly Mexico’s favored cocktail. To really enjoy an authentic Paloma, you need to have grapefruit soda. In a pinch grapefruit juice and club soda will work, but nothing compares to the sweet, tart, bitter and bubbly combo of the grapefuit soda. This recipe calls for a pinch of salt, as well. While some people will want to rim the glass with salt, my vote is to just toss it into the mix. Trust us. World of difference.
1/2 oz lime juice
pinch of salt
Combine the tequila, lime juice, and salt in a highball glass with ice. Give a stir and pour in the grapefruit soda. Primavera is here and we haven’t a care!
8: Aperol Spritz
I recently took a trip to Italy and got to visit the city of Venice. One of the things we booked was a walking food tour with Venice Bites Food Tours. First of all, the tour was fantastic and an absolute must if you ever visit Venice, but you can read more about that in my Italy post. The final stop on our tour, we learned about Aperol Spritz cocktails and Venice’s own special brand of Aperol called Aperol Selectivo. It’s somewhere in between Campari and Aperol, beautifully straddling the line of bitter and sweet and actually changing with the drinkers palate. Since it is near impossible to find outside of Venice, you will have to decide between Campari, a touch more bitter, or Aperol, slightly sweeter. Either way the cocktail was bitter, bright, and bubbly with just enough sweet to off set the bitter. I could not have asked for a better after dinner beverage. One of the key aspects to getting this cocktail correct is ensuring that it is made using prosecco. Some will try and cheap out by serving it with club soda, but be sure to ask for it with prosecco. Total difference.
4 1/2 oz prosecco
2 1/2 oz Aperol
Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the Aperol and fill with prosecco. Garnish with an orange wedge! Saluti!
9: Limoncello Sangria
Limoncello is known for that palate cleansing pop and is often enjoyed as an after dinner digestif. I enjoy using it in this light sangria as a way to refresh and awaken your palate. Also sangria is one of those make and forget it kind of things that just gets better the longer it mellows. A pitcher of sangria is an excellent way to maximize your time in the sun and with company! So whip up a pitcher and head outside!
1/2 cup limoncello
1 cup lemonade or pink lemonade
1 750 ml bottle of sparkling wine ( I used Prosecco since the bubbles are big and lively)
Fresh berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, black berry or all four!)
Muddle the berries and mint for a quick minute in a pitcher. Add the limoncello, lemonade, and sparkling wine. Give a stir and pour into glasses with ice. Garnish with a fresh berry and a lemon wheel. Enjoy with your friends till the pitcher runs out!
10: Lillet Rosé Spritz
Full disclaimer, I adore Lillet! I usually keep a bottle of Lillet Blanc in my bar at all times. It makes for amazing cocktails and is wonderful just poured over crushed ice. This year I discovered Lillet is making a Lillet Rosé. Be still my beating heart! Not one but two of my favorite spring time beverages in one?! Of course I immediately went out and bought a bottle (or two). This stuff is absolutely delicious on its own, and would be completely set off by an excellent but easy cocktail like a spritz, which can be assembled in a pitcher, stirred, and enjoyed at your lesiure.
Full pitcher of Lillet Rosé Sprits
1 750 ml bottle of Lillet Rosé
1.5 c Pomegranate Juice or Strawberry Lemonade
1 750 bottle of Prosecco, Chilled
Pour all into a pitcher, stir, and enjoy in a champagne coupe! Feel free to garnish with fruit or edible flowers for some whimsy.
I’m sure you are a bit parched after that delicious list! I know I am. Soon as a warm day comes, it will be quite the decision on what to make first. Either way I’m sure there’s something on here to fit the bill and the tastes of anyone out there. Be sure to share your first Spring concoctions! Cheers ya’ll!
Celebrating all that we raise, sip, guzzle, clink, drinks and most affectionately cheers with!