Summer Cocktails: Part 1

My Pimms CupI’ve been a red wine loyalist for about six years.  Except for one very indulgent Baconized Bourbon cocktail, I’ve been strictly vin rogue. The recent heat wave, however, has changed my inclinations; I’ve been looking for something refreshing, cold, and ‘ahem – alcoholic.  

During my pursuit of the perfect summer libation, I’ve developed a fondness of a British cocktail known as a Pimms Cup. This classic English drink, which does not appear on American Bar menus nearly as frequently as it should, is made with Pimms Cup No.1, a distilled alcohol made from a gin base, and deep red and has flavors reminiscent of spice, berries and tannic tea.  On a side note, I find it rather medicinal and soothing to an upset stomach.

I was told, by a Brit, that no Brit actually includes the word “cup” when referring to this cocktail, but, regardless, if you want an easy cocktail that’s full of flavor and not super-sweet, this is the one – no matter what you call it. There are a few variations on the recipe, but all pretty basic. Here’s one:

The Pimm's Cup

About 1 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup (2 ounces) Pimm's No. 1

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) ginger ale

1 cucumber slice

1/2 orange slice

Add Pimms No.1 Cup and ice to glass,  then top with ginger ale, garnish with cucumber and orange slices, and serve.

I reached out to a few of my foodie friends with a flair for mixology, hoping they would share their favorite summer cocktail recipes with me, or even better, make one for me! Peter Conway, Montclair resident and owner of wine blog, Mano A Vino, offered this cool summer potion:


2 ounces white port (such as Fonseca Porto Siroco)

Dash of lime juice


2 ounces tonic water

1 slice of bitter melon or cucumber, plus 2 slices of seedless green grapes, skewered on a toothpick

Combine the port and lime juice in a wineglass with ice. Add the tonic. Garnish with the bitter melon or cucumber and grapes.

Jan Warren, bartender at Dutch Kills Bar, offers a drink called the Grape Collins.  According to Warren The Grape Collins is “a great drink for people who are drinking wine with dinner and worried about mixing the grape and the grain, since pisco is a grape based spirit.”

Here’s the recipe:

Grape Collins

Put 5-7 grapes (red or green, depending on your preference) into a
cocktail shaker.
Add 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. Muddle
grapes to release flavor.
Add 2 ounces of Pisco, shake, and dump all ingredients into a collins glass.
top with ice and soda water.

Stay tuned to Patch and Hot From The Kettle for Summer Cocktails: Part II, featuring cocktail recipes from Amanti Vino, and more from Peter Conway.

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