Wine & Spirits

Giving Your Cocktail a Summer Kick

Jazz up your citrusy cocktails before summer's done.

Photo by Katherine Harris

I sure do love sitting back and enjoying a beautiful sunny summer afternoon, and I’ll bet you do too. I’ll also bet you’ve discovered this experience can be enhanced if you have a nice, refreshing cocktail to sip on. Citrusy cocktails are great in the summer, and one of the little tricks I like to use to jazz them up is to add just a touch of balsamic or fruit vinegar. Besides adding some flavor complexity to the acidity in the cocktail, it also increases its thirst-quenching power.

Take the classic Tom Collins, which is basically gin and sparkling lemonade, and try adding a touch of white balsamic vinegar and maybe a dash of salt water, too. You don’t want the vinegar to overpower the citrus element, just complement and enhance it. Same for the salt water: use a light hand so that people wouldn’t guess it was in there unless you told them.

Another tip for heat-beating cocktails is to make sure all of your ingredients are pre-chilled. Cold glassware, spirits, mixes, and tonics will extend the time one has before the ice melts and over-dilutes the cocktail.

Johnny Michaels is the author of North Star Cocktails and a master mixologist at La Belle Vie.