Spring has arrived!
The evenings are balmier, it’s not pitch-black when you leave work, and ladies everywhere are digging skimpy summer dresses out from the depths of their wardrobes.
What better way to welcome in the warmer months than by throwing an al fresco cocktail party?
Whether we’re talking a chic soiree in the courtyard, an intimate evening on the balcony or a fresh poolside party, there’s something about entertaining in the open air that really lifts the mood. (Tip: now is a great time to befriend your neighbour with the pool next door).
To celebrate this lovely time of year, I thought I’d share three of my favourite summer cocktails with you. They’re easy to prepare, fun to make (no doubt you”ll get more “creative” as the afternoon progresses) and ridiculously tasty. Designed to share, these fresh and fruity drinks will get the party well on its way.
1. Sangria Blanco
A summery spin on the Spanish classic
¼ cup castor sugar
2 bottles of crisp or sparkling white wine
1 cup Cointreau
¾ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2-3 cups lemon/lime soft drink
2 lemons, 2 oranges and 2 apples, all thinly sliced
1 punnet of strawberries, thinly sliced
- To make sugar syrup, bring sugar and 1 ¼ cups of water to the boil in a saucepan then reduce to medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Combine sugar syrup, white wine, Cointreau and citrus fruits in a large pot or container, cover and chill
- Before serving, add mint leaves, strawberries and apples
- Serve over ice. Enjoy!
Tip: This drink can be made and served immediately but can be chilled for 30 mins – 8 hours for an even better flavour
2. Pretty in Pink
A refreshing watermelon, mint and lemonade cocktail for a hot day
1-1.5 kg watermelon flesh, cut into chunks
½ cucumber, cut into chunks
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Lemonade (to top up)
1 lemon, sliced, for garnish
¼ cup packed mint leaves, plus mint to garnish
2½ cups white rum or vodka
¼ cup agave syrup or sugar syrup
Ice cubes for serving
- Place the chopped watermelon, cucumber, mint and lemon juice in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth
- Strain the mixture into a jug or carafe so as to remove the pulp and leaves
- Mix in the spirits and sugar syrup and stir until everything is well combined
- To finish, top with lemonade, garnish with lemon slices, mint and ice. Enoy!
Tip: Serve in ball jars (as shown) for a unique vintage touch. Substitute Vodka for soda water for a virgin cocktail.
3. Tom’s Pimms Ultra Cup
Yummy bits are plentiful in this hyped-up version of the English classic
Makes 6-8 glasses
300 ml Pimms
250 ml Hendricks Gin (any Gin will do)
Dry Ginger Ale
1 punnet strawberries (hulled and halved)
1 Lebanese cucumber (cut into long, thin batons)
1/2 orange (halved and sliced, reserve slices for garnish)
½ cup Maraschino cherries
20 leaves fresh mint leaves
Rose petals to garnish
½ – 1 cup sugar syrup* (adjust to taste)
- Add strawberries, half of the cucumber batons, orange, 3 cherries (stalks removed) and simple syrup to a large jug
- Muddle, gently being sure to squash strawberries and cherries. Clap and add mint leaves, add Pimms and gin
- Top with ice and stir with a long spoon, mixing well
- Top up half-and-half with dry ginger ale and lemonade (soda can be used for a lighter drink)
- Fill glasses with ice and garnish liberally with remaining fruits. Fill to the brim and enjoy!
Tip: this drink is best made and served immediately but can be refrigerated without ice in advance.
Tools of the trade
Shared cockails are best enjoyed in a carafe, pitcher or punch bowl. You can’t really go wrong! If you opt for a carafe or pitcher, it’s best to prepare your cocktail mixture in a large bowl or pot so you can make a mess and chill it in the fridge before presenting it in the carafe to your guests.
For a quirky vintage touch to your cocktail presentation, serve your drinks in these fab jar glasses from Ball. The Ball Drink Dispenser (pictured below) is also a super cool option for self-serve shared cocktails that will no doubt impress your guests. You can also just fill it with chilled water, mint and lemon to keep everyone hydrated on a hot day.
Give your guests a place to perch with a selection of comfy outdoor furniture to suit your space. I’m totally digging this colourful Replica Acapulco Outdoor Bistro Set (pictured below) from The Hammock Co.
Happy hosting everyone!