What’s better on a hot summer night than a cold drink? Most of our favorite “adult” summertime drinks are, unfortunately, full of sugar and chemicals and nasty artificial ingredients. But don’t worry! I’m not going to tell you that you have to live the rest of your life without cocktails. I’m just going to tell you how to make summer cocktails that aren’t all that bad for you.
How to lighten up your summer cocktails:
• For recipes that call for soda, try substituting with carbonated water. Instead of a vodka and tonic or gin and tonic, for example, mix your alcohol with seltzer, a touch of homemade simple syrup and a lemon wedge.
• Speaking of simple syrup . . . make your own. Regular simple syrup is just sugar water. It’s hummingbird nectar, basically! Make your own simple syrup by mixing half a tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of warm water. That measure will give you enough for one sweet cocktail.
• Drink a serving of fruit or veg with each drink by muddling some fresh produce in the bottom of your glass. Strawberries and basil are a wonderful sweet combo. A tomato and some parsley is good for a Bloody Mary. Mango and mint makes another great cocktail combo.
• Stick to one shot per drink. That will keep the calories down and it will also prevent you from overdoing it too quickly.
Some other ideas to try:
• Mint Julep. Put a tablespoon of your homemade simple syrup into a glass and muddle it with a dozen or so fresh mint leaves. Add a shot of bourbon and top the drink up with seltzer water.
• Tequila Sunrise. Fill a glass with ice and a shot of tequila. Add in a couple shots of fresh squeezed orange juice and pour a splash of real cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail) on top.
• Lime Rickey. To your tablespoon of homemade simple syrup, add the juice of one lime and a little more than half a shot of bitters. Top with a cup of seltzer water and enjoy!
• Spiked Lemonade. Muddle a quarter cup of frozen berries with the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of simple syrup in an 8 ounce glass. Stir in a shot of vodka and top up the whole thing with seltzer.
• Grapefruit Margarita. Put some ice cubes in your favorite margarita glass. Add a shot of tequila, the juice of a lime and the juice of half a grapefruit. Top it up with a shot of orange liqueur.