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In the summertime, the grilling is easy. And the drinks can be too, thanks to these recipes that are inspired by the latest and greatest concoctions from some of the country’s leading cocktail bars. This year, a lot of the drinks that made the lists are driven by mixologists’ love of putting cheeky twists on the spritz, playing with the big, bold flavours of the tropics and seizing the moment by using as much of the bounty of summer as humanly possible. Best of all, every single one of them goes really well with all things barbecue, patio hangs and eating in the great outdoors—exactly what we need to help us max out our summer fun quotient.

The Sand Dollar

What do you get when you mix a classic Mai Tai with a Caribbean Rum Punch? This awesome blend of tangy fruit and creamy coconut with a black sesame twist!

 

Pack a brandy snifter with crushed ice until there’s a small mound of ice rising over the rim. Add 1 ½ oz (45 mL) rum, 2 oz (60 mL) tart cherry juice, 1 ½ oz (45 mL) orange juice and 2 oz (60 mL) coconut milk to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well for 60 secs. Strain into the glass, adding more crushed ice to make sure the ice is still mounding over the rim, if needed. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and garnish with an edible flower. Makes one drink.

 

Tip: You can make crushed ice easily. Simply place ice cubes in a cloth produce bag and close. Pound bag a few times with a mallet or rolling pin.

 

Zero-proof it: Substitute 1 ½ oz cold black tea for rum.

Spritzy Paloma

This summer, we’re putting on the Spritz by adding a little sorbet to a classic Mexican flavour combination—tequila and grapefruit soda.   

 

Combine 1 ½ oz (45 mL) tequila, 3 tbsp (50 mL) citrus sorbet and 2 oz (60 mL) fresh grapefruit juice in a blender and mix for five to 10 secs, to a slushy consistency. Pour into a champagne flute and add 3 oz (90 mL) soda water. Garnish with pink grapefruit wedge. Makes one drink. 

 

Zero-proof it: Replace tequila with 1 oz chilled chamomile tea.

Piña Vida

Fashioned after the drinks made famous at some of the world’s best beach bars, the perfect pairing for this cool and refreshing sipper is a lounge chair and a sunny day. 

 

Add 1 ½ oz (45 mL) vodka, 4 oz (120 mL) pineapple juice, ¾ oz (22 mL) lime juice, ½ oz (15 mL) agave syrup, 12 mint leaves and two cups of ice cubes to a blender. Blend on medium for 30 secs or until the drink reaches a completely smooth consistency. Garnish with a grilled pineapple spear and two pineapple fronds. Makes one drink. 

 

Zero-proof it: Swap vodka for 2 oz of chilled lemon ginger tea, and reduce lime juice to ½ oz.

Tiki Tini

An exciting comeback for this summer is the return of the martini menu, which offers “tinis” in all flavours and colours, including this passion fruit one inspired by classic tiki drinks.

 

 

Add 1 ½ oz (45 mL) gin, 2 oz (60 mL) passion fruit juice, 1 oz (30 mL) passion fruit purée, ¾ oz (22 mL) lime juice and ¾ oz (22 mL) vanilla syrup to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well for 45 secs. Strain into a large, chilled martini glass and garnish with a fresh passion fruit cup (the bottom half of a fresh passion fruit) carefully balanced between a flat cocktail skewer and the side of the glass. Makes one drink. 

 

 To make passion fruit purée, remove all the pulp from one half of the fresh fruit and blend it on high for 20 secs. Strain out seeds. Use the other half of the fruit as a garnish.

 

Tip: To make your own vanilla syrup: Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water and gently heat in a small saucepan. When sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat, let cool and add 2 tbsp of vanilla extract.

 

Zero-proof it: Replace gin with cooled ginger tea.

Kentucky-style Spritz

This spritz calls for bourbon, peaches and sparkling lemonade—a drink born to be sipped on a wrap-around porch on a stifling hot day.  

 

Purée 1 - 2 fresh white peaches immersion blender until fruit is liquified. Mix 1 ½ oz (45 mL) puree with 1 ½ oz (45 mL) bourbon. Spoon into spritz glass. Add 2 - 3 ice cubes. Top with 4 oz (120 mL) sparkling lemonade and garnish with a grilled peach on a cocktail skewer. Makes one drink. 

 

Zero-proof it: Replace bourbon with chilled vanilla orange pekoe tea. 

Red Rye Spritz

This fizzy rye spritz is exactly what you want to drink with all the barbecued meats and veggies you grilled up to celebrate the best eating season of the year.

 

Build this spritz by pouring 1 ½ oz (45 mL) rye and 2 oz (60 mL) tart cherry juice into a large rocks glass. Add ice, stir and top with 3 oz (90 mL) sparkling blood orange soda. Garnish with 4 fresh cherries on a cocktail skewer. Makes one drink. 

 

Zero-proof it: Replace rye whiskey with chilled lemon tea. 

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