What makes a warm weather drink? A good starting point is to consider the setting in which you’re planning to drink it. We’re talking outdoors ideally, beneath a clear blue sky; the sun is hot, so the drink must be cold; the mind wanders to exotic locations, so the drink should go there too; and you don’t want to be in a hurry, so the drink should be long and sophisticated enough to support animated conversation, deep into the evening.
There are warm weather drinks and there are sophisticated warm weather drinks. Flick through any cocktail book and you’ll find plenty of recipes that involve chunks of summer fruits brimming over the rim of the glass, often supporting a miniature parasol. Refreshing this may be, exotic too, to an extent, but sophisticated it is not – and, therefore, not perfect. The three cocktails we offer here for your delectation meet all the criteria of the perfect summer drink, but each brings something different to the table.
We begin with the Mojito, that classic Cuban concoction of rum, mint, lime and soda, redolent of sultry nights in Havana. It has all the edge and depth of an evening with Ernest Hemingway, who drank plenty of Mojitos in Cuba in the 1930s. For Americans seeking respite from Prohibition, Havana provided the perfect playground and the Mojito supplied the spirit.
The key to making Mojitos lies in the mint: muddle it too much and you mess up the whole thing. Just a light bruising of the leaves is all it takes to release the aromatic, spiky mint flavours.
Next up is a new take on an old classic. The Jan Collins (pronounced Yan Collins) is a twist on the American Tom Collins, created by World Class Bartender of the Year Jeff Bell. His variation uses Ketel One vodka in place of gin, which sounds simple but the effect is anything but. Ketel One is a distinctive vodka, zinging with citrus orange and lemon and a streak of golden honey, and these flavours shoot an extra-fresh charge fizzing through the drink – ideal for a summer soirée.
The Ruby Cooler
Our final recommendation is unashamedly tropical. The Ruby Cooler sounds summery before you’ve even started and its flavour lives up to expectations: a punchy fruit cocktail to complement an afternoon barbecue. Passion fruit and pineapple juice blend with apricot brandy and orange liqueur for a hypnotically unctuous base brought sharply to its senses by a shot of Tanqueray gin.
Voilà: three perfect drinks to cover all summer scenarios.
We’d like to thank our friends at The Bar for their expert views above, and thoroughly recommend heading to uk.thebar.com for detailed, easy-to-follow recipes for all of these drinks – and more.