Summer is here. Well, it felt like it was, before it disappeared again after a week or two.
Despite its hasty retreat, the sun was around just long enough to get us trawling the interweb for summer cocktails.
Here are three we’ll be making in the coming months.
Black and blue lemonade: this one starts off with a bit of faff, involving the creation of black pepper-infused syrup.
Take 250ml of water and 225g of white sugar (or a cup of each) and 5tbsp of crushed black peppercorns. Pop them all in a small pan, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, strain and refrigerate.
Once cold, put 2tbsp of the syrup, four blackberries and three roughly-chopped basil leaves in a glass and muddle (squash about a bit with the end of a rolling pin).
Fill the glass with ice, then top with a mixture of two parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and one part soda water. Top with a lemon slice and a basil leaf.
You might notice that there’s no booze in this one. You might also notice that it sounds like a perfect vehicle for a shot of vodka. It is.
Hyderabad mojito: this hails from Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India, which is a place we’re nowhere near well-travelled enough to have heard of.
Dice an orange with the skin on. Pop it in a cocktail shaker, fling in some fresh coriander and muddle them well enough for the orange peel to release its oils.
Then add the juice of a second orange (roughly 120ml) 2tbsp of lemon juice and 1tbsp of sugar syrup. Add ice and shake well.
Strain into a tall glass, fill it about halfway with ice - crushed ice, if you have it - then top it off with Sprite and a coriander sprig.
Cucumber gimlet: this one might sound a bit stupid, but we can vouch for it. Unless you hate cucumber and gin, it’s lovely.
So, you take two decent-sized cucumbers (weighing about 700g in total). Take four slices off one of them for later, then peel and roughly chop the rest.
Stick that in a food processor and whizz it until it’s smooth. Empty that into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, and press it down a bit to get all the liquid out.
What you’re left with is cucumber juice with - hopefully - no bits. Bin the cucumbery mush left in the strainer, and then mix the following in a jug: 250ml (1 cup) cucumber juice, 125ml gin, 4tsp fresh lime juice and 1 tbsp sugar. Stir it until the sugar dissolves, add lots of ice and mix well.
You now have four servings of cucumber gimlet, to be strained into your short glass of preference (the recipe suggests a martini glass).
Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a lime wedge.
Black and blue lemonade and Hyderabad mojito from foodrepublic.com (lemonade recipe by Molly Quirk, Sips ‘n Bites, Brooklyn, New York). Cucumber gimlet from epicurious.com.