Lounging on your balcony, patio, or deck sipping a yummy cocktail while the sun warms our face tells us we have finally arrived at the pinnacle of all summer experiences – cocktail season. We have to admit, we really do love a good cocktail, and we know the best drinks are made with care using local spirits and ingredients that really amp up the unique factor.
This year we have the time to really do cocktail season right, and from your own backyard. If you have always longed to make an elaborate cocktail that’s served lightly frothed and with a fun garnish, your time is now. Order everything you need online from local businesses to make these classic cocktails at home, all summer long.
Stock Your Bar for Cocktail Season
The last thing you want to have is a beautiful day and nothing on hand to make a cocktail (the horror!). Be sure your bar is ready for the season by ordering from the local distillers who are crafting flavourful spirits close to home. Many of these folks offer delivery, curbside pick-up or shipping options (so there are no excuses).
- Top Shelf Distillers (Perth): gin, vodka, whisky, moonshine, and flavoured moonshines
- Dairy Distillery (Almonte): Vodkow (vodka made from dairy permeate) and cream liquor
- Whitewater Spirits: Paper Boat Gin (Cobden): just gin!
- O’Kenny’s Craft Spirits (Pembroke): moonshine, gin, vodka, and rye whisky
Cocktail season wouldn’t be complete without some fun cocktail accessories. You’ll also want to pick up the fun stuff, like a silver cocktail making kit from O’Kenny’s that comes complete with a shaker, shot glass and tongs, or bitters from Top Shelf Distillers. If you’re not keen on making a cocktail from scratch, you can order a complete cocktail kit with everything you need to make a yummy drink from Top Shelf Distillers or O’Kenny’s. Top Shelf also has a fun cocktail guide subscription box you may want to give a try this summer.
Sex & the City Cosmoopolitan
We may not be in the city, but we can still make a fun and classy Cosmopolitan, Ontario’s Highlands style. Although this was the drink of choice by the girls on Sex & the City, the only thing girly about a Cosmopolitan is the colour. Make this drink with a twist of dairy using Dairy Distillery’s smooth and sexy Vodkow as the liquor base.
Ingredients: 2.5 oz. Dairy Distillery’s Vodkow, 1 oz. cranberry juice, 1 oz. Cointreau (or triple sec), ½ oz. fresh lime juice, crushed ice, orange peel for garnish
Instructions: Combine Vodkow, cranberry juice, lime juice, and Cointreau in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake until combined. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
Classic Tom Collins
Did you know Whitewater Brewing Company makes gin as well as beer? The Whitewater Distilling company’s Paper Boat’s artisanal gin is the perfect ingredient for a refreshing Tom Collins. Try mulling some cucumber in with the gin to really amp up the flavour in this refreshing summer drink.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Paper Boat gin, 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, .5 oz. simple syrup, club soda or Perrier, lemon slice
Instructions: Combine gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a highball glass. Fill with ice, top with soda or Perrier and garnish with the lemon slice.
Cherry Moonshine Lemonade
Top Shelf Distillers has created a lemonade recipe for a refreshing summer cocktail using their cherry-flavoured moonshine as the base ingredient. Quick and easy, this cocktail will be just the thing for a mid-week pick-me up on a warm day.
Ingredients: 2 oz. Top Shelf Reunion Ontario Cherry Moonshine, lemonade, sparkling water, cherry for garnish
Instructions: In a mason jar with ice, combine all ingredients and to with cherry garnish.
Many of us wait all winter long for the coming of the most wonderfully smelling time of the year – when mint pops up in gardens and backyards all across Ontario. Harvest this fragrant herb or purchase from the grocery store or farmers’ market and open up your options for making delicious, summery drinks. If the mint julep is one of those cocktails you have heard of but never actually tried, this is your chance! This recipe uses whisky instead of bourbon to keep a local twist on a classic cocktail.
Instructions: Muddle mint leaves in the simple syrup in a rocks glass, add bourbon and fill glass with crushed ice, then stir. Top with more ice and garnish with mint.
The Almighty Caesar
When it comes to making a beautiful Caesar, O’Kenny’s Craft Spirits has your back. They sell everything you need to make an epic Caesar right from their website, including tabasco sauce, rim salt, and garnish (have you had a Caesar with Extreme Beans in it – if not you are missing out). Order O’Kenny’s vodka and everything else you need for the full Caesar experience.
Ingredients: 2 oz. O’Kenny’s vodka, ¾ cup Clamato juice, dash or Worcestershire sauce and tabasco sauce, 1 lime, celery salt (for rim) and desired garnish
Instructions: Rub the edge of a glass with lime wedges and dip in celery salt and set aside. Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add remaining ingredients and shake well. Fill glass with ice and strain shaker into glass. Garnish with desired garnish.
Raspberry-Lemon Virgin Mojito
You don’t need to add alcohol to appreciate a fun (and pretty) summer drink This non-alcoholic “mocktail” will brighten your day and remind you of summer days gone past when a tall glass of lemonade was a highlight of the day.
Ingredients: 15 mint leaves, 1 oz simple syrup, 2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, 8 oz sparkling raspberry lemonade (or regular lemonade will work too). For garnish you will need raspberries, mint, and a lime wedge
Instructions: Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a tall highball glass, muddle the mint and add simple syrup and lime juice. Add a handful of ice cubes, top with raspberry lemonade. Garnish with fresh raspberries, a sprig of mint and a lime wedge.
*Feature image for this story provided by Top Shelf Distillers