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I appreciate rituals, especially when it comes to the change of seasons. They are, for me, placeholders in the cycle of life. Just as we pack up our winter clothes with mothballs in anticipation of those longer, warmer days that warrant wearing linen and sandals, so, too, does our taste for cocktails shift with the seasons. As the heat takes hold, no longer do we say, “I’ll have an Old Fashioned, please.” Rather, during summer, our taste buds yearn for something fruity and delightful. Something light, with hints of citrus and lots and lots of ice.

Pardon the pun, but since we’re in the heat of the moment with summer now in full swing, here are some cocktails worth your sippin’ time.

From Woodlot Restaurant, Toronto

Even though I shelve my favorite winter libation, an Old Fashioned, for the summer, I still adore bitters. When I saw this cocktail on the menu on a recent trip to Toronto, the Angostura bitters grabbed my attention.

Hendrick’s Gin + a dash of bitters-pure heaven.

  • 1 1/2 oz of Hendrick’s* Gin
  • Freshly squeezed white/red grapefruit juice
  • Splash of Angostura Bitters

I was in Grand Cru yesterday picking up a bottle of Hendrick’s and couldn’t resist sharing their description of this gin: pretty lemon curd, rose petals, pink peppercorns, candied ginger, sweet spices, vibrant juniper, cucumber, allspice, cinnamon.  (I know, I was drooling, too.) At $36 a bottle, Hendrick’s Gin deserves some pretty darn good adjectives.

Next, I stopped by Park Cafe on Murphy Road. For those of you who don’t already know, Park Cafe has one of the best bartenders around when it comes to shaken and iced cocktails, and their nightly happy hour is amazing. Park Cafe is going through some exciting changes–we’ll let you know more about those as they unfold.

Here is what the talented and lovely Kelli Straub mixed up for me while I was there.

Cucumber and lemon, what’s not to like?

Cucumber “Tini”

  • 1 1/2 oz. Pearl’s Cucumber Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Stirring’s Ginger Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz Carvello Lemoncello

Mix in shaker over ice, garnish with lemon twist

The lovely Rye Flower

Rye Flower

  • 1 1/2 oz Bullet Rye
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
  • 2 squeezes from a couple of lemon wedges
  • Splash of Simple Syrup

Shake with ice, garnish with something cool.


Finally, I have to throw in my favorite summer cocktail. I call it the Silver Dunes Delight, since it was invented during one of those hot days at the beach. My family has owned a place at Silver Dunes –located right smack dab in the heart of Destin– for over 30 years, and our tradition includes a lot of hanging out with a bunch of Ole Miss fans, the Carson family from Marks, Mississippi and a 5 o’clock ritual of mixing cocktails and watching the sun set. Most recently, I convinced Lil Carson to splurge and buy a bottle of that $36 Hendrick’s Gin for our beach-side happy hour. Yow-wee, was it good.

The Silver Dunes Special can be made with either vodka or gin (and you might as well use the good stuff), and anything else you have on hand. I was on a trip with a bunch of my girl friends this past weekend, and we whipped up a batch in about 10 minutes. Not to say this is a discriminating group, but the Silver Dunes Delight received rave reviews.

Silver Dunes Delight

  • 1-2oz of Gin or Vodka
  • 1 T. of frozen limeade
  • Soda water

Fresh limes make a gorgeous presentation.

Fill up a tall glass with ice. (In this photo, I’ve used one of my gorgeous, new glasses from AshBlue, which I absolutely adore!) Add a jigger or so of gin or vodka and a heaping tablespoon of frozen limeade. Mix vigorously (you can use a shaker) and pour in a lovely glass. Add soda water and ice. Garnish with lime.

Let us know what your favorite summer cocktails are, and we’ll be sure to include them next summer.

Happy sippin’.

P.S. for great wines, be sure to check out our deal today on StyleBlueprint Deal for $25 for $50 at Rumours Wine and aRT bAR: click here for details.

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