The best mixed drinks to slurp in the sunshine. As featured in Telegraph Luxury
This year’s slick summer heat has everyone gasping for a discerning drink, but the last thing we want while basking on an Ibizan beach or perspiring in Hyde Park is the kerfuffle of complicated cocktails. Perhaps we should resist the predictable generational call for instant gratification but, frankly, no one has the energy to waste on strenuous shaking and the like, and as it happens, simplicity is the new watchword in many of the world’s leading bars.
It’s reassuring to learn history backs up a lazy approach to sunshine sipping. Take the punch, a quintessential summer sip that was introduced to the British way back in the 1630s when East India Trading sailors returned to treat landlubbers to their liquid discoveries. Now an essential ally in summer gatherings, punches comprise full bottles of spirits and mixers, fruit, ice and bunged into a big bucket, providing a useful start to the liquid labour saving. Granted there’s more artisan subtlety to punch recipes, but constructing one is literally no sweat, and if you have a go then honour the seafaring ties with a navy strength Plymouth Gin (https://www.masterofmalt.com/gin/plymouth-navy-strength-gin/) in a simple gin punch (recipe below). Equally useful is rum or brandy, and if it’s too torrid to be mixing your own then visit the Punch Room at London’s Edition Hotel.
Easier still is a Summer Cup. This 19th century seasonal classic was originally a homemade infusion of herbs, roots, fruits and spices and has been revived by modern distillers. Sipsmith are amongst the best available for this hot weather hooch, their Summer Cup a bottled blend that builds on a gin base with lemon verbena, Earl Grey tea, bergamot, Seville oranges and cucumber. Fill a wine glass with ice, pour 35ml Sipsmith Summer Cup, top with lemonade and garnish with a wheel of lemon for one of the easiest and tastiest drinks of the season.
The British are not the only summer drinks enthusiast and in Italy a staple solar powered sip is the Spritz. Another drink with historic pedigree to match its simplicity, this has been recently revived by modern mixologists and is best enjoyed with a British twist using Kamm & Sons. See the Brit Spritz recipe below.
Then there’s the highball, a mainstay of the Mad Men of 1960s this straight-forward serve adds pep to a spirit mixer. The Japanese stir whisky with still or sparking water and garnish with an orange zest, they call it a mizuwari and it’s a ridiculously easy but refreshing method of serving whisky. A floral, less alcoholic alternative is to use St Germain, which at 20% abv includes French Alp flowers and blends beautifully with champagne. Take a highball, work on two parts champagne to one and a half parts St Germain and two parts sparkling water. Fill a highball with ice, stir the St Germain down, then pour champagne and top with the water, garnish with a lemon twist.
I’ve also been enjoying the Merlet liqueurs recently, a fine collection of spirituous drinks with a commitment to using real fruit. The Merlet Trois Citrus Triple Sec fizzes with citrus sweetness and mixing 50ml of it with 25ml of lemon juice and 15ml simple syrup, over ice in a highball glass and topped with sparkling water is rewardingly effortless.
Alfresco drinking demands the least faffage and here I’d recommend pre-bottled cocktails. Not only is this on trend, it also transfers all your endeavour into the cooler night before. Pick up some artisan bottles, fill with your favourite pre-made cocktail and label and you’ll be amazed at how much invention guests will assume. Mercifully even this process has been simplified by Mr Lyan who has a light Diamond Rickey already batched for purpose. And no outdoor adventure is complete without some sort of tartan thermos and if you stir up a martini batch, then chill overnight, you’ve got a pre-prandial to perfect any picnic. I’ve been focusing on quality Polish Belvedere vodka martinis recently with a 60ml ratio to 10ml Lillet Blanc simply because it’s what Bond will be enjoying in the forthcoming Spectre, and he knows his cocktail onions.
Method: Pour all ingredients over cubed ice into a wine glass and stir well. Squeeze a wedge of grapefruit into the drink and garnish with a cucumber slice
Garrick Summer Gin Punch
This recipe comes from Hints for the table: or, The economy of Good Living by J. Timbs published in 1866. According to Garrick curator Marcus Risdell it was the favourite of the author and ‘hoaxer’ Theodore Hook, although, when Marcus enquired if the Garrick’s current bar manager had ever been asked for one, the answer was “not in living memory”.
“Summer gin punch is thus made at the Garrick Club. Pour half a pint of gin on the outer peel of a lemon, then a little lemon-juice, a glass of maraschino, about a pint and a quarter of water, and two bottles of iced soda-water; and the result will be three pints of the punch in question.”
As with all good punches you might want to adapt to your own taste, sugar syrup might also be handy to have available if you get the lemon v maraschino ratios wrong and it turns out a little tart.
Created in 1795 at the Schuylkill fishing club you’ll find various interpretations in historic books. This recipe was taken from an updated Savoy Cocktail Book though and uses sparkling water in place of mineral.
Method: Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl with a few large pieces of ice and stir.