Cocktail season

The summer is packed with special days celebrating pretty much every drink you can think of. We asked Inka Larissa to take her pick and pair them with a cocktail, along with her advice about how to make the most of your fresh-air favourites this season

Warming weather and all the BBQ get-togethers at this time of year call for delicious cocktails to be shared in good company, and when it comes to picnic drinks, your choices are endless.

Preparation is key for sharing drinks outdoors. If you are serving drinks such as highballs or G&Ts, make sure you chop all the citrus and other fruit in advance.

You can also make any syrups or juices at home and store them in small bottles. Wrap-around wine cooler sleeves work well for other bottles as well. Also, leave your best glassware at home.

As with plates and dishes, choose lightweight reusable options. Some sure-fire easy-to-mix summer cocktail winners include:

Mojito – Mint, sugar, lime wedges, rum, soda water

Sherry Cobbler – Sherry, orange and lemon slices, blueberries, sugar, soda water or prosecco to top up (optional)

Spritz – Your chosen bitters, orange slices, prosecco, soda water

Americano – Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water

Rosé Sangria – Rosé wine, lemon juice, berries, elderflower syrup, mint, soda water

ABOVE: An Americano on ice

If you’re mixing up cocktails at home, I’d recommend having at least this basic bar equipment and supplies...

Tools of the trade

Bar spoon (makes stirring martinis easier); Boston Shaker (you can also use the glass part of the shaker as a mixing glass) ; Jigger (always measure your spirits) ; Muddler (for those fresh mojitos) ; Strainer (a must if you are shaking cocktails, pictured below)

Glassware

It is nice to have a few special cocktail glasses for that extra wow factor when serving drinks at home. Again, you should consider what style of drinks you are serving. Do you need highballs, tumblers, Martini glasses or coupes?

Ice is the key!

Whenever you make a drink or a cocktail it is important to use a lot of ice. For a Highball you should be filling your glass with ice cubes, or else you’ll end up diluting the drink too fast. For cocktails, you should first measure the ingredients into the glass part of your Boston shaker and then fill it with ice before you shake it. The same applies to Martinis, Manhattans, Negroni and more – measure the ingredients, fill the glass with ice, and stir. That way you will have a lovely cold cocktail with just enough water to dilute it.

What to drink and when to drink it...

4 JUNE COGNAC DAY

Cognac works beautifully with coffee. A Café Amore cocktail is the perfect pick-me-up, served after dinner. A few tips to remember: Make sure the coffee is very hot and the cream should be cold, straight from the fridge. The cream should be only slightly whipped; if it is too thick, it will sink to the bottom of the glass, and before you build the drink, heat your glass with hot water.

CAFÉ AMORE
  • 25ml cognac
  • 25ml amaretto
  • Black coffee
  • Whipped cream
  • Almond flakes for garnish

Measure both cognac and amaretto into an Irish Coffee glass and top up with black coffee. Spoon the cream on top and garnish with the flakes.

9 JUNE DARK & STORMY DAY

This is a classic summer cocktail. If you like a Moscow Mule, you’ll enjoy this one.

DARK & STORMY
  • 50ml dark rum
  • 20ml fresh lime juice
  • 10ml sugar syrup
  • 2 dashed of Angostura bitters
  • Ginger beer

Shake all but ginger beer with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball. Top up with the ginger beer and give it a gentle stir.

11 JUNE WORLD GIN DAY

Barrel-aged gins are surprisingly versatile when it comes to cocktails. They add a lot of depth to classic drinks like Martinez and Negroni. Or use them as a whisky replacement in drinks such as Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

BARREL-AGED NEGRONI
  • 25ml SMWS oak-aged gin (for example Cask No. GN5.4)
  • 25ml Sweet vermouth
  • 25ml Campari

Measure all ingredients into the glass part of your cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice and stir well. Strain into an ice-filled tumbler and garnish with orange peel.

14 JUNE BOURBON DAY

As the cherry season is finally upon us, it is time to get mixing with them. Make sure to double shake this recipe to create a better foam. Start by shaking well without ice, then add ice and shake well once more. Egg in cocktails is not everyone’s cup of tea, but sour cocktails can be made without the egg as well. The point of the egg white is to add texture to the drink by creating a nice silky foam.

CHERRY SOUR
  • 50ml bourbon
  • 5 cherries
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup
  • Egg white

Remove the stones from the cherries. Muddle them together with the bourbon in the bottom of the shaker. Add lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white (break the egg separately to avoid ruining the mix). Dry shake, add ice and shake again. Strain over ice and garnish with a cherry.

19 JUNE MARTINI DAY

A few things to remember when making a martini: There are three main types of martini ­- wet, dry and perfect. Vermouth is a fortified wine flavoured with botanicals, and it makes a martini either sweet or dry, depending how much vermouth is used in the recipe. Don’t be shy with the ice and double strain to avoid any floating ice.

Cerignola olives have a firm texture with a slightly salty and meaty yet mild taste, making them ideal for dry martinis. Castelvetrano (aka Nocellara) have a sweet, mild and buttery flavour. If you think you don’t like olives, try Castelvetrano – just make sure the pits are still in as these tend to be more flavoursome.

BURNT MARTINI
  • 60ml gin
  • 15ml dry vermouth
  • 15ml Peated flavour profile SMWS whisky
  • Lemon twist or an olive for garnish

Measure all ingredients into the glass part of your cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice and stir well. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

9 JULY WORLD RUM DAY

Mai Tai is a great easy summer cocktail. Make a larger batch and bring it to a picnic.

MAI TAI
  • 30ml dark rum
  • 30ml white rum
  • 15ml orange curacao
  • 30ml fresh lime juice
  • 20ml orgeat
  • Mint

Shake all ingredients well with ice and strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

11 JULY MOJITO DAY

One of the best summer cocktails there is!

CLASSIC MOJITO
  • 50ml rum
  • 6 wedges of lime
  • 2 barspoons of brown sugar
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Soda water

First, muddle the lime and sugar at the bottom of the glass. Add rum. Do not muddle the mint. Instead, gently ‘smack’ the mint between your hands before adding it into the glass. This will release the oils, giving you that fragrant aroma without damaging the leaves. Next add crushed ice and give it a gentle stir. Add some more ice if needed and a dash of soda water.

19 JULY DAIQUIRI DAY

Classic daiquiri works every time, but if you want to jazz it up, simply replace the sugar syrup with a flavoured one or muddle some berries before shaking the cocktail.

DAIQUIRI
  • 60ml rum
  • 20ml fresh lime juice
  • 15ml sugar syrup

Simply shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lime peel.

24 JULY TEQUILA DAY

Margarita is another cocktail that can be easily modified with various fruits and berries.

SPICY WATERMELON MARGARITA
  • 50ml tequila blanco
  • 25ml Cointreau
  • 15ml fresh lime juice
  • Watermelon cubes
  • Green chillies, chopped
  • Dash of sugar syrup (skip if watermelon is very sweet)

Muddle watermelon cubes with tequila in the glass part of a Boston shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice. Double strain over ice and garnish with extra chillies.

Tip: If you like a salty rim, this cocktail goes well with smoked chilli salt.

27 JULY SCOTCH DAY

Make the most of those Scottish raspberries with this refreshing serve.

SCOTTISH RASPBERRY
  • 50ml SMWS whisky (try something from the Young & Spritely or Juicy Oak & Vanilla profiles)
  • 30ml raspberry liqueur
  • 20ml lime juice
  • Ginger ale
  • Raspberries for garnish

Simply shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lime peel.