With this coming up on porch sitting season I thought it would be a good time to talk about cocktails. Now, I call anything that has alcohol in it a “cocktail” be it beer, wine, or liquor. I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite drinks for this time for year for you to put on your springtime to-do list.
I have a funny little annual tradition where on one of the first warm days of the year I stop at a convenience store and pick up a tall boy of whatever beer is cheapest, I grab a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie, I go home and enjoy both in the warm sun of the early evening. It’s a magical sweet buzzing thing to do that makes it seem like this summer is going to be just like in the movies. That’s a feeling you can only buy with a snack like that.
Here are my top 3 must have cocktails for spring!
PISS BEER with Twang
From March until October I always have to have at least two or three cans of cheap lite ‘suds’ (as my dad used to call them) in the fridge. Not much can beat the cold sensation of 4% alcoholic carbonation on your palette. Don’t shy away from terrible beer. Get whatever is cheapest and be sure not to buy anything that sponsors a rival racing team (Gotdang Brad Kezlowski! I want him to switch teams so I can drink Miller Lite again!). The addition of beer salt takes this instant remedy to a whole other level. Twang is my favorite brand; it comes in little mini bottles and also handy packets that can go in your wallet. Beer salt is also really delicious on cut up cucumbers and all types of melon. Likewise, the chili powder fruit salt is really delicious in beer.
PRO TIP: be sure to drink a few slugs off the beer before you salt it, otherwise you’ll have a volcanic science experiment on your hands (and lap and floor).
WOODEN LEGS, a whiskey drink
I’m not 100% what the deal is with this drink name, but back in the day, that’s what this drink was called at the Uprise Bar. Mr. Freeze would serve rail whiskey with ice, seltzer, bitters, and lemon. I make all sorts of variations of this drink during the hot hot hot summer months as it is a refreshing way to lighten up dark liquor.
#1 = Frozen fruit: raspberries and peaches–I like to use these as rocks. Aldi has these for less than $3 for 10 oz on most of their frozen fruit. Or better yet, freeze some fresh ones if you have access to free fruit! I’ve even heard of using frozen edamame, in a pinch. Either way, you’ve got a snack to eat once you’ve drunk the cocktail!
#2 = Bitters: My brand of choice is Peychaud’s but lots of folks also like Angostura. It’s good to have both brands for a well stocked bar. I’ve never been able to get past the ill-fitted paper label of Angostura…a silly thing, but it irks me none the less. Plus I like the historical connections that Peychaud’s has to New Orleans (be sure to read their history here). I’m also a big fan of Bitter Truth Bitters, specifically the celery and Creole flavors. So far Scrappy’s Bitters aren’t my most favorite, but admittedly I haven’t tried any of their stronger flavors like Firewater and Orleans. My favorite of the sampler pack I got is definitely the cardamom pictured here–it lends a subtle punch of India that I really enjoy. Crude Bitters are made here in North Carolina which automatically gets me excited. Although not overly strong, I do enjoy the Rizzo blend in drinks with white liquor. I’ve got some Steen’s Cane Syrup on my bar for making drinks that need simple syrup. That may sounds crazy but I find that the molasses-like sweetness stands up to whiskey in a way the white sugar just can’t.
#3 = Seltzer: I usually buy the store brand of seltzer from whatever grocery store I’m at. If I’m having company I buy it by the bottle, otherwise I get cans. Truthfully, I drink this cocktail almost as much without the whiskey. If there is LaCroix on sale, I buy that. My favorite flavor to drink plain is coconut, but I lean more towards citrus flavors for cocktailing. I have a SodaStream but I never get the dang CO2 tanks refilled. I should put that on my to-do list!
#4 = Citrus: I’m usually too lazy to buy and cut up lemons/limes unless I’m entertaining. Most times I buy a bottle of Nellie & Joe’s key lime juice and use a splash of that instead of a slice or twist.
#5 = Sonic Ice: Y’all. It’s what I call “crunch ice”. For around two bucks you can get a whole bag of it at Sonic and bring it home to your freezer.
#6 = Whiskey: Any kind! It doesn’t matter! Use whatever is your favorite. I am partial to Bulliet Rye if I’ve got extra cash or Evan Williams if I’m feeling broke.
BOOZY PUNCH for SPECIAL OCCASIONS
Chatham artillery punch (seen below) is traditionally a New Years drink according to some accounts, but I think it is refreshing for spring and summer.
I just LOVE a punch. Punch makes any event so much more like a PARTY if there is punch involved. I like to make ice rings in my little quiche pans with orange juice and canned pineapple rings and frozen fruit, then float them in punch or sangria. I’ve been known to whip up a batch big enough to fill a cooler! I’ve never understood people using WATER for an ice ring–it waters down the punch, obvs! Once your ice ring is frozen, carefully dip your ice ring mold in warm water and your frozen treat will pop right out.
What are your favorite spring time treats to drink?