Ok, you got a little over-ambitious at the farmers' market, or your garden is really going gangbusters, and you ended up with a bit more of summer's bounty than you bargained for. Depending on where you're located, you're already knee-deep in sweet and sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries...and you could be heading toward peach season.
You'll be baking your fill of desserts, but a refreshing drink can help you power through. Check out the slideshow for 22 ideas for how to get seasonal fruit into your cocktails, or continue straight to the recipes below.
Preserve the tart, fresh flavor of fruit by not messing with it too much. In a cocktail shaker or mixing glass, just tap the fruit with a muddler (or the end of a wooden spoon). You can leave it a rough smash or blend until pretty dissolved, add spirits or liqueurs, and strain or don't strain, according to your preference.
If you want to do a more thorough job distributing fruit throughout your drink, or you're making a big batch, you can toss pitted or seedless fruit in the blender to make a purée, and then use it strained or unstrained in your cocktails. This works especially well for soft fruit like melon.
Make Simple Syrup
Making simple syrup to sweeten your drink evenly without any gritty sugar-bits is as easy as dissolving sugar in hot water, but it's also an opportunity to add deep fruity flavor to your cocktails without muddling each drink individually.
Stir Up a Shrub
A shrub is an easy-to-make tart and sweet syrup that can be added to cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks. The tart flavor often comes from vinegar such as apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar (though you can also be hardcore and make your own fruity vinegar as a starting point.) Here's our guide to making your own shrubs, and the pros and cons of a few different methods.
Craft Your Own Liqueurs
Homemade liqueurs are about as easy to make as shrubs, and they make excellent gifts in case you really bought (or harvested) too much fruit. So instead of buying fake-flavored stuff at the liquor store, you really should consider capturing the flavor of real fruit with spirits. What's even better is that these homemade cocktail ingredients can be tailored to your personal preference.