Summer Cocktails: Part 2

by Melody Kettle

Cucumber Margarita, photo courtesy of Ryan DePersioAs the temperatures continue to rise, al fresco parties are becoming the trend.  But every good party needs great libations.  Therefore, as your local ambassador of good food and good drink, please enjoy Part 2 of the Summer Sipping Series!

Amanti Vino, 33 Church Street, Montclair, has offered a recipe for a “beat the heat” cocktail that “hails from the rain battered borders of the United Kingdom,” a drink called  Think Pink.

But before you get shaking, Amanti Vino provided a little background about the cocktail:

A brief history of the drink takes us back to the 19th Century and the Royal Navy. Born from the port cities of England, a Pink Gin contains Plymouth gin and a dash of 'pink'. Pink' referring to the Angostura bitters, a dark red extract of gentian and spices. Also known as Gin and Bitters, the Royal Navy actually created the drink in order to make Angostura bitters more enjoyable (they actually used Angostura bitters to combat sea sickness). The recipe is very simple:


1) Take a chilled Old-Fashioned glass and splash in a couple of doses of Angostura bitters. Make sure to coat the inside wall of the glass with the bitters and pour out the excess.


2) Then take a shaker---add ice and your favorite gin. Give it a good shake and pour into your pre-coated Old-Fashioned glass. The bitters will turn the gin a “salmony-shade” of pink. Add a lemon or lime rind for garnish. And that's it.

The traditional style calls for Plymouth Gin, but I like London Dry. I use Anchor Distillery”s Junipero (San Franciso) or Dry Fly, a small batch distillery in Washington State. I think you should use the gin that you like the most. Trust me, it is remarkably refreshing and quite the “talker.”

If you don’t have an Old-Fashioned glass around, Amanti Vino recommends using a regular short glass, and for very hot days, adding ice to it.

Our friend and libation aficionado, Peter Conway, at Mano a Vino had another festive and fabulous summer cocktail to share with us - Watermelon, Cava, Lime, Agave Nectar. Here is the recipe:

I like using the Sugar Baby Watermelons that you can find in all the farmers markets.  I used one and a half melons to make enough juice for about 15 drinks. To make the juice I just cut up the melon in 2 inch chunks and then throw it in the blender and blend at high speed until it turns to juice. I then strain the juice through a sieve to take out the pulp. I use a two to one ratio of to Watermelon juice to Cava. 1.5 liters of watermelon juice and a 7.50 bottle of Cava will make about 15 cocktails.  

Once the melon is juiced I transfer it to a pitcher and squeeze in the juice of one lime and a couple ounces of Agave nectar.  This adds complexity and sweetness. You can adjust this to taste.

I chill my glasses, champagne flutes, and when ready to serve drop a lime slice and sprig of fresh mint leaves.  Then fill half the glass with Cava and gently top off with the watermelon juice. You need to be careful here, if you pour too fast the drink will bubble over.


If you’re looking to head out for a cool beverage, Bar Cara, 1099 Broad St. Bloomfield, is shaking up a Cucumber margarita priced at $9! Fantabulous! According to owner and chef, Ryan DePersio, “This drink is our number one drink in the spring and summer. It was featured on The Today show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.”      Here’s the recipe: 

Cucumber margarita

2 oz cucumber juice(fresh),

tequila, 1/2 oz simple syrup,

1/2 oz lime juice,

1/2 oz sour mix.

Shake in a cocktail shaker and pour in a glass rimmed with cayenne salt.

Here’s another riff on the margarita from Highlawn Pavilion:

Superfruit Margarita

 2 oz Veev Açai Spirit

 3 oz Blanco Tequila

 Splash of Simple Syrup

 Fresh Lime Juice

 Lime Wheel as garnish