Flavors to Go

Summer’s perfect traveling cocktail companions

By Tony Cross

Now that it’s a thousand
degrees outside, we opt for either staying inside with the air-conditioning blasting, or taking a trip to the pool, lake or one of our state’s beautiful beaches. Whenever I have a chance to get away from work and head to the beach (think six years ago), I’ve always been with friends that have plenty of coolers packed with ice, beer and snacks. By snacks, I mean more beer. If liquor was ever involved, it was kept at the beach house. Since then, I’ve become the designated “you’ll make us something, right?” guy. Here are some ideas to get you a quick and easy sunny side cocktail without all the fuss. Caution: Still bring beer. You won’t want to pound these cocktails all day in the sun. Have a few, and then switch. We’re lucky to have a great brewery at Southern Pines Brewing Company, as well as the variety of tasty craft beers at Southern Pines Growler Company. So, grab something to go from them.

Reverie Cocktails Ginger Beer

Ginger beer has been all the rage the past few years, and I’m proud that my recipe has found its place in many a bar, restaurant and household. A few months ago, we started offering my ginger beer in growlers at Nature’s Own, and the demand has been pretty amazing; we go through a keg every week. Not bad for a health food store. My ginger beer is non-alcoholic, so it’s perfect for anyone that doesn’t feel like, or can’t, participate in summer drinking festivities. Organic ginger, citrus and cane sugar make this carbonated soda the best tasting one I’ve tried. Grab a few growlers, and make your own Dark n’ Stormys or Jamo and Gingers. You can also stop by the ABC store, and grab a bottle of TOPO Vodka to make a great Moscow Mule. Just make sure you bring some limes.

Moscow Mule

1 1/2 ounces vodka (support local, and grab TOPO)

5 ounces ginger beer (see above)

Squeeze of lime

Combine all ingredients into a Solo cup packed with ice. They just taste better in plastic cups.

Pineapple-Infused Negroni Spritzers

The Negroni is a spirit-forward cocktail. Definitely in my top five favorite drinks of all time, I love having one or two before dinner. With a little spin, you can turn this classic into more of an island-style spritzer. Negronis are typically made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. When I’m making one at home, I’ll usually add an extra half ounce of gin, but for this one, we’ll stick to the traditional ratios. You’ll need to plan ahead — make sure to prep this cocktail a week before you head out. Because this is more of a boozy drink, I would recommend it for a pool or lake setting. When you’re at the beach, it’s a whole different kind of sun; please drink responsibly. If you are going to drink these on the beach, cut the serving portion (sans the sparkling water) in half.

Makes 16 drinks:

1/2 bottle gin (Sutler’s Spirit Co. or Conniption Gin. Both local, both delicious)

1/2 bottle Campari

1/2 bottle sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica is a good one)

2 organic pineapples, diced

Sparkling water (Mountain Valley is the best out there. Available at Nature’s Own.)

Combine all ingredients (minus the sparkling water) into a large container, and seal. Refrigerate, leave in container for 7-10 days, agitating daily. Once your infusion is ready, strain, and discard pineapple chunks. Or eat them — up to you. If you’ve got a nut milk bag, strain again through it to get rid of the smallest bits of pineapple debris. You can then funnel the Negroni into glass bottles or plastic containers, whichever is easiest for you. When you’re ready to cocktail, pour slightly over two ounces into a cup with ice, and top with sparkling water. Personally, I’d add a few drops of Raleigh’s own Crude Bitters’ “Tiki Threeki” Toasted Coconut and Burnt Pineapple Bitters on top of it with a wedge of pineapple.

Modelo Especial Cocktail

If you’re like me, and lazy, this is for you. One of my last trips to Wrightsville Beach, my best friend and I came up with this simple beer cocktail. Open a Modelo Especial, take a swig, and then add 1/2 to 3/4 ounce blanco tequila. May I suggest El Jimador, Don Julio or Herradura. Squeeze a lime in it and you’re ready to roll. Two things though: Keep the beer Mexican, and the tequila 100 percent agave and blanco. That’s it. The lazy cocktail. Only have a few of these; they’ve got closing speed. Trust me.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

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