A few weeks ago I found myself with a bushel of basil—I was in over my head with bunches of the herb and needed to use them up asap. After making the prerequisite pestos, I ventured into pizza and even a basil and lime sorbet, which got me thinking. Those two flavors are perfect summer partners—refreshing and full of flavor—so they can only get better with the addition of a little booze, right?
'Drinking in Season' on Serious Eats
A fresh and sparkling vodka cocktail for warm-weather sipping.
Ripe, almost squishy peaches work great for this cocktail, since the peaches will be muddled anyway and you're looking to get as much peach juice as possible.
A refreshing summer cocktail made with fresh peaches, rosemary, and bourbon.
Lately it seems like I keep hearing about shrubs. I'm not talking about the bushes that line your front yard—this is way better. The shrub that I'm referencing is a vinegary syrup used as a way preserve fruit made with three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and vinegar.
Created by Rob Gourlay at the Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, this cocktail takes a minimum amount of effort to produce maximum flavor—something we can all appreciate when the heat gets oppressive. I used black raspberries, red raspberries, and blueberries, but you can use any combination you like.
Fresh summer berries are muddled with little simple syrup to enhance their sweetness, then paired with rye whiskey to give the drink a little pep.
When the markets are overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables and full of vibrant colors this time of year, I'm always drawn to the deep, dark hue of blackberries. They feel like the mysterious, moody fruit in a gang of do-gooders.
Blackberries and lime form the backbone of this simple gin-based summer sipper.
Pucker up, it's sour cherry season! These elusive cherries can usually be found for a weeks in late June and early July at farm stands and farmers' markets—if you see them, grab a box. These tart, almost transparent cherries make great desserts, preserves, and of course, cocktails.
My grilling skills may be a little rusty, but I can certainly bring a pitcher full of tasty summer drinks to the party.
A refreshing cooler of raspberry scented iced tea spiked with rum.
There is something about the understated flavor of cucumber that's instantly calming. It has just enough oomph to awaken your senses. That cool, refreshing flavor pairs incredibly well with lime and Hendrick's gin.
One sip of this drink and there's no question what season it is—it's time to take advantage of as many strawberries as you can. This cocktail, with its sweet, refreshing flavor is the perfect way to enjoy one of summer's most iconic fruits.
I have a rule when it comes to strawberries—I wait to buy them until they make their way to the farmers' market. Nothing compares to that first day when you see them, or more accurately, smell them. But the other day when I was in my local grocery, I smelled that scent of real, ripe, flavorful berries, then examined the berries to make sure I wasn't going crazy. I broke my rule. I just couldn't resist them. I immediately ate one as soon as I left, hoping that my nose didn't deceive me—the berry was flavorful. Of course I started plotting out what to do with my preseason score.
Strawberry, rhubarb, and a hint of tarragon, paired with tequila, a little lemon juice and simple syrup, create a juicy cocktail that nicely balances sweet and tart.
Since tea was going to be the star of this cocktail, I want to go with something that had a bit of complexity. I chose smoky Lapsang Souchong as my base ingredient. One whiff of this tea and there's no question what it will taste like: smoky, earthy, and intense. But that aggressive flavor can be shifted a bit when combined with other ingredients in a cocktail.
Since rhubarb is on the tart side, it's often paired with sweet, summery fruits like strawberry or raspberry, but one of my favorite rhubarb combos is rhubarb and ginger—especially in a light, refreshing cocktail.
A few weeks ago a sign appeared at our local farmers' market. It read, "Ramps are coming next week!" The joy was palpable. As people walked by and read it, you could hear the excitement in their voices. All that for a little leafy wild onion. Of course, ramps aren't just any regular garlicky vegetable. They're the first new thing we've had at the market in months; a sign that spring is really here.
A little bit of pickled ramp brine brings an earthy, slightly sweet onion flavor to this classic cocktail. Make sure to use a fresh bottle of vermouth, and store your vermouth in the fridge for no more than a month.