June 15, 2018

4 of my favorite cocktails this summer

We seem to have skipped right over spring in Nebraska. That means we’re well into our stretch of days above 90 degrees (plus full humidity) and headed toward our hottest weather still. I’m very Goldilocks about my weather—I don’t want it too hot or too cold—so I’m not exactly a fan of these sweat-inducing temps.

One of the ways I’m keeping myself cool and sane this long summer is with happy hours at home. Now that I have a fixed-up patio and full fridge to myself, I’ve developed a taste for having cocktails at home after work. Not only can I save some money—and keep myself out of trouble—but best of all: I can lounge around in leggings, an old T-shirt and messy bun while pretending I’m still super fancy.

I’ve already come up with a few favorite beverages to help me cool down after a hot day. In addition to favoring ginger-infused ciders and citrus-based beers, I’ve played around with cocktails. Here are my favorite to date.

Pimm’s Iced Tea

  Two tea bags (your choice on flavor)
  1 cup (8 ounces) of Pimm’s No. 1
  1/2 lemon
  1/2 orange
  Mint leaves
  Seasonal fruit to garnish (optional)

Directions: Bring a pot of water to boil. Brew tea bags in 2 or 3 cups of water. While cooling, pour Pimm’s and juices from half an orange and half a lemon plus mint leaves over ice in a small pitcher or carafe. (Tip: Use more ice than less to compensate for the hot or warm tea.) Add tea to container. Stir or shake until we’ll mixed. Fill a glass with ice and add your choice of fruit slices and mint. (I used a couple of extra strawberries with lemon and orange slices.) Pour tea into glass and enjoy!

This recipe makes two or three glasses (depending on your serving glass). You can also find recipes for sweetened Pimm’s iced tea, but I’m a Midwestern gal at heart. I can’t stomach sweet tea. #sorrynotsorry


  1 bottle of Rosé (your choice)
  8 ounces of strawberries (plus extra for garnish, optional)
  1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute
  1/2 cup water
  2 limes

Directions: Pour wine into freezer-safe, sealable bags. (Tip: Divide the wine into four or five quart-size bags to create individual servings. Unless you're planning to drink the whole thing in one sitting, then use a gallon-size bag.) Freeze for at least six hours. Note: The wine will not freeze solid, because it contains alcohol. In a small- to medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute. Wash, slice, and remove the tops from the strawberries and place in pan. Once it's sizzling, turn to medium-low heat and allow to cook for about 30 minutes. Place the strawberry sauce in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to serve pour the frozen wine into a blender. Add a proportionate amount of strawberry syrup and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Blend until you have a smoothie-like consistency. Pour into glass and garnish with a spare strawberry. Voila!

Again, I suggest portioning out your wine, strawberry syrup, and limes so you can make individual servings when you are ready to drink. While this one requires the most patience for the first glass, it is totally worth the wait.

Spiked Iced Coffee

  2 or 3 cups of coffee (chilled)
  1 shot Fireball (cinnamon whiskey)
  1 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream (coffee liquor)
  Cinnamon to garnish (optional)

Directions: Make two or three extra cups of coffee in the morning and store in your fridge. (Tip: I used a quart Mason jar, which made for a great chilled mug later.) Once home for the day (or after chilling several hours), pull out your leftover coffee and add a shot of the cinnamon whiskey and a shot of cream-based coffee liquor. (Another tip: I store my Fireball in the freezer, which makes it a great addition for the beverages I tend to make.) Stir until we’ll mixed. Fill glasses with ice and pour over. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a good Mason glass cocktail, just put the ice in the original container. And voila! You have a yummy, creamy cinnamon coffee that will give you a little jolt of caffeine and bring down your temperate a degree or two.

Vodka and Elderflower Tonic

  1 tall shot of vodka (any flavor)
  ~1/2 cup of elderflower tonic water (I found mine at World Market)
  1/2 lime

Directions: Fill high-ball glass halfway with ice. Pour a tall shot of vodka over ice. (Tip: Try your favorite flavored vodka to add a little extra fun. Also, store your vodka in the freezer so your drink is extra chill.) Squeeze half a lime into glass. Fill the rest of the way with tonic water. Garnish with a lime wedge or twist.

I have also invested in a few key props to help me live my best happy hour at home. I recently purchased a set of six high-ball glasses with a metal rack. These are great for serving when you have guests and they also look super classy for storage purposes. I also scored a glass carafe and four plastic wine glasses from the dollar aisle at Target. Both have been game-changers. They’re great for must-haves and in between uses, I’ve turned them into summery centerpieces on my kitchen table.

There you have it—my four favorite cocktails this summer . . . so far. What are you drinking and loving this season?

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