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Crafty cocktails for warm summer days

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Berry mojito

A berry mojito.

Around Christmas, I ordered a fancy cocktail set with the anticipation of perfecting my favorite cocktail (the mojito) and serving up beautiful concoctions. Unfortunately, like many things purchased on a whim, the set has sat in a cupboard since arriving on my doorstep. If you too have a fancy cocktail set collecting dust, now is a great time to break out the shakers, jiggers, strainers and all that barware that you’ve tucked away and serve up some icy, crafty cocktails of your own.

Mint julep

Mint julep.

Mint julep

The iconic drink of those porches and horse races is mostly ice, meaning that on a sweltering summer day (or a sudden jump in spring temperatures that make it feel sweltering), the bourbon-focused drink is a refreshing addition.

Ingredients

  • Eight to 10 mint leaves, depending on preference
  • ¼ ounces simple syrup
  • Two shots bourbon
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Directions

In a julep cup or rocks glass, muddle the mint gently with the simple syrup. Add the bourbon and then pack the glass with crushed ice. Stir until the glass is frosted on the outside, then top with more ice to form a dome and garnish with mint.

Berry-infused rum

Berry-infused rum.

Berry-infused rum

While this isn’t a cocktail per say, you can take your favorite rum drink further with a little patience and a Mason jar.

Infusing spirits on your own can yield interesting concoctions and best of all a certain sense of pride knowing you took an ordinary liquor and made it something else while basically doing nothing but letting it sit on your kitchen counter.

Infuse some rum or another clear liquor to add a dash of summer fruitiness to your favorite cocktail, like the classic mojito, my personal favorite.

Ingredients

  • Berries of your choice
  • One Mason jar
  • Rum of your choice
  • Cheesecloth

Directions

The amount of berries you will need depends on how big your Mason jar is. This isn’t something that needs to be done in a gallon-sized pickle jar (though you certainly could), but rather a small quart jar that you would use for canning or a leftover pasta jar.

Wash your berries thoroughly, then fill the jar with them. You don’t need to cut your berries unless they need to be in order to fit in the jar. If your doing two or more kinds of berries, layer them evenly. Fill the jar to the brim with rum and tightly seal it. Leave it on your counter for three to five days, depending on how fruity you want it to be.

Drain the liquid from the berries using a colander and a bowl, try and get all the rum off the berries by shaking them, do not squeeze them. Put your berries in a freezer bag and freeze them for other boozy drinks or garnishes.

Clean your Mason jar of any seeds or other debris that has come off the berries. Cover the mouth with a cheesecloth about 4 layers think then slowly pour the rum back into the Mason jar straining out any remaining seeds.

Store in your refrigerator.

Loaded layered lemonade

Loaded layered lemonade.

Loaded layered lemonade

As a fan of fruity frozen drinks in general, this glow-up of a spiked lemonade is worthy of both your Instagram and your next vaccinated/socially distanced backyard barbecue.

You can easily make it non-alcoholic for younger guests and designated drivers by omitting the vodka and adding a bit more lemonade.

Ingredients

  • Six shots of vodka, divided
  • 4 cups of ice, divided
  • 4 cups lemonade, divided
  • 2 cups frozen mango
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Directions

Blend mango with one cup of ice, one cup of lemonade and two shots of vodka until smooth. Then place in a separate container and clean the blender thoroughly.

Next blend the strawberries with one cup of lemonade, one cup of ice and two shots of vodka then place it in a separate container and clean the blender thoroughly.

Now place remaining lemonade, ice and vodka in the blender and blend until smooth. Place in a separate container.

Freeze all three mixes for 30 to 45 minutes until slushy.

Dollop the layers into glasses, evenly dividing each layer of mango, strawberry and lemonade. Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve.

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