Finding the perfect summer cocktail
By Donna De Palma
When summer peaks in July and August, sultry, sun-drenched afternoons and long, hot nights call for a chilled cocktail. Nothing quenches thirst and refreshes the spirit like the perfect cold drink served in a frosted glass.
We’re in the midst of a cocktail revival with old-fashioned favorites like the Martini and Cosmopolitan making a comeback. Cocktails pay homage to the past while bringing a creative twist to what’s traditional. The success of any cocktail begins with the freshest ingredients and a careful attention to detail.
The ever-sophisticated Martini blushes lavender at the Inns of Aurora in Aurora, where their newest Lavender Martini—ice cold and very dry—is turning heads. Erin McElhinney, dining room manager at the rustic farm-to-table restaurant nestled in the 19th-century lakefront inn, says it’s the floral notes that give this Martini a distinctive appeal.
If you’re craving something fruitier, the Flirtini at Warfield’s Restaurant and Bakery in Clifton Springs is a colorful mix of pineapple and cranberry juices blended with raspberry vodka and triple sec then topped with Champagne and garnished with blackberries.
Perhaps the most unexpected cocktail this summer is Blue Water Grill’s Pear Martini. A favorite in Skaneateles, Blue Water Grill combines Smirnoff Pear Vodka, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, a splash of Cava sparkling white wine and a poached pear in this refreshing summer infusion.
If it’s the ocean blue that calls you, Blue Water’s Motorboat offers their version of a Mai Tai, made with Tuaca, an Italian liqueur that’s citrusy with hints of vanilla, Curaçao, for its blue color, and pineapple juice served over ice.
For a truly seasonal sour and tangy Cosmo, Glenora Wine Cellars’ Veraisons restaurant offering farm-to-table dining overlooking Seneca Lake is introducing a Rhubarb Cosmo with syrup made from local rhubarb. Add Cointreau, lime juice and Finger Lakes Distilling Vintner’s Vodka and serve in a chilled Martini glass.
Glenora’s assistant inn manager Emily Edsall and Veraisons sous chef Sarah Hassler developed the restaurant’s summer cocktails, many of which are made with fruit from local growers. Their Grapefruit Sangria, made with Riesling, Glenora Brut, Captain Morgan White Grapefruit Rum, basil simple syrup and a homemade preserve of grapefruit marmalade, plays bitter against sweet.
For pomegranate lovers and those who wane nostalgic for late night bistros on the streets of Paris in the ’40s, there’s Paris St. Germain at Joelle’s in Skaneateles. It’s made with St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, 1911 Gin from Beak & Stiff, and pomegranate juice and liqueur. The welcoming, bistro-style French auberge restaurant also offer its version of spiked ice tea with rum, dry vermouth, triple sec, vodka, gin and Coca-Cola for the more seasoned cocktail lover. The Mardi Gras at Joelle’s, made with ginger liqueur, Bourbon, lemon juice and ginger ale, is definitely more than just a little fizz.
When the temperature rises, fill your glass with a dry or fruity chilled cocktail to refresh, restore and revive.
Donna De Palma is a freelance features writer who specializes in food, farms, green topics, travel and lifestyle.
From Inns of Aurora
1¾ ounces Finger Lakes Distilling Seneca Drums Gin
¾ ounce lavender simple syrup*
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Lemon twist, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*To make lavender simple syrup, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Take off heat, add 2 tablespoons of dried lavender and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and cool completely before using.
This story is from our July/August 2015 issue.