In the Spirit

Gin Summer

Three easy summer cocktails to beat the heat

By Tony Cross

My favorite time of the year is upon us: unbearable heat and ridiculous amounts of humidity. It’s summertime, by God, and it’s drip-sweat hot. There are tons of different cocktails to help cool you off, but I’m going to focus on gin.

It’s funny how some people make a squirming face at the very mention of gin. If you’re one of those, stick with me — one of these drinks might make you a convert. Often the ghost of gin past, or whatever you call your previous bad experience, usually came from drinking juniper-forward, cheap gin. There are different styles of gin out there, and I’ll pick three of them, one for each cocktail. You can always swap out whatever gin you want for the drinks below. But watch out, you might find that you kind of like it after all.

Get Innocuous!

This is a spin on the gimlet cocktail, adding arugula to the original recipe of the gin and lime cordial. Actually, the recipe has a few tweaks, but it was definitely inspired by the classic drink. I read an article many years ago where a chef was making arugula gimlets on the rocks, and it sounded delicious. It quickly made its way onto our cocktail menu.

The spiciness from the arugula pairs well with the soft, earthy flavor of Plymouth gin. Plymouth is my go-to gin for martinis, as well.

2 ounces Plymouth gin

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce light agave syrup

Healthy pinch of arugula

Place arugula and agave syrup in a cocktail shaker. Muddle. Add gin, lime juice and ice. Shake hard for 15 seconds and double strain into a rocks glass over ice. Add a piece of fresh arugula for garnish.

Gin and Tonic

On a hot, summer day, there’s nothing quite like a good gin and tonic. When I was a teenager working as a dishwasher at a country club, one of the servers would slide me G&T’s through the window on busy weekend nights. The gin was cheap, and so was the tonic. It didn’t matter — what did I know?

These days, we have lots of different choices of gin, so many it can seem a little overwhelming. I recommend a London Dry Gin, which is juniper-forward, but if that’s not your style, you can substitute a softer, drier gin like Plymouth.

When it comes to tonic water, you can never go wrong with Fever Tree, but for this recipe, we’ll be using Reverie’s tonic syrup, TONYC. Instead of adding a lime wedge to the drink, we think the oil from an orange peel brings out the best in our syrup.

2 ounces Beefeater’s gin

3/4 ounce TONYC syrup

4 ounces sparkling water

1 orange peel

Pour gin and syrup into a rocks glass. Give it a quick stir with your barspoon. Add ice and top with sparkling water. Again, give it a quick stir. Express the oils from an orange peel over the cocktail and drop into drink. If you’re using tonic water, pour gin into glass, add ice, sparkling water, and stir. Use a lime wedge if using tonic water.

Southside

The Southside is a guaranteed seller on your cocktail menu this time of the year, and for very good reasons. It’s light, refreshing, and goes down quickly. If you’re hosting a cocktail party, it’s a real crowd pleaser.

One of my favorite things about gin is how versatile it is. It pairs well with so many different ingredients and, in this case, it’s lemon and mint. I once put this on a cocktail menu for our outside seating guests and everyone was raving. And drinking. Sutler’s Spirit Co. gin out of Winston-Salem is so damn good. Even if you’re not a fan of gin, give this a go. Owner Scot Sanborn reached out to me when I first started Reverie. I was blown away by how delicious it is and the packaging is gorgeous, too. There’s lots going on — lavender, coriander and lemon up front, with juniper and bitter orange in the background. Just lovely.

2 ounces Sutler’s Spirit Co. gin

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup (2:1)

4 sprigs of mint

Sparkling water

In a cocktail shaker, add mint, gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ice and shake hard until shaker is ice cold. Add a healthy splash of sparkling water into the vessel after shaking, and double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. No garnish.  PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

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