One of my favorite parts about summer is crafting seasonal cocktails. Generally, I gravitate toward elevated, complex drinks that are layered with a lot of flavor – but not a lot of sugar. These four cocktails are herbaceous, fruit- and vegetable-forward, not too sweet and not too sour, but just right.

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Fresh Heirloom Bloody Mary

Serves 1

Heirloom Bloody Mary Mix | Yields 4 cups

  • 5 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1½ Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1 lime
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

To Serve

  • ice
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 4 ‒5 ozs heirloom bloody mary mix (recipe right)
  • accents and garnishes (freshly ground black pepper, spicy pickles, citrus wedges, olives, celery, herbs, peperoncini)

Preparation – Heirloom Bloody Mary Mix

In a blender, blend tomatoes until smooth. Run through a fine sieve, reserving liquid and discarding pulp. Add water and stir. Add Old Bay Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, citrus juices, salt and pepper. Whisk together until combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To Serve

Fill a glass with ice, add vodka and top with heirloom bloody mary mix. Add pepper to taste, and garnish with your personal favorites.

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Pineapple-Sage Shrub With Gin

Serves 1

Pineapple-Sage Shrub | Yields 2 cups

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 cups diced pineapple
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

To Serve

  • 2 ozs pineapple-sage shrub (recipe below)
  • 1 oz gin
  • ice
  • 4 ozs club soda

Preparation – Pineapple-Sage Shrub

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and pineapple to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and add sage leaves; muddle. Let mixture rest and cool for 5 minutes. Add honey and salt, and stir to dissolve.

Strain mixture, reserving liquid and discarding pineapple and sage pulp. Add apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine. Cool completely before use.

To Serve

Combine pineapple-sage shrub and gin over ice. Top with club soda.

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Basil Tom Collins

Serves 1

Basil Simple Syrup | Yields 1 cup

  • 2 giant handfuls fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup simple syrup

To Serve

  • ice
  • 1 oz gin or vodka
  • 1 oz basil simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 4 ozs club soda
  • 1 wedge fresh lemon, for garnish

Preparation – Basil Simple Syrup

In a blender, blend basil leaves and simple syrup until smooth. Run through a fine sieve, reserving liquid and discarding pulp.

To Serve

Fill a glass with ice. Add gin or vodka, basil simple syrup and club soda. Top with fresh lemon wedge.

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Modern Mai Tai With Hibiscus and Thyme

Serves 4

  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp loose-leaf hibiscus tea
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ice
  • 6 ozs dark rum of choice, divided
  • 1½ cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • pineapple slice, for garnish
  • sweet cherries, for garnish

Preparation

Pour hot water into a mug, and steep hibiscus tea and thyme sprigs for 5 minutes. Strain and discard tea leaves and thyme. Allow tea to cool to room temperature, and add honey. Stir to dissolve and refrigerate until completely cool.

Fill four rocks glasses with ice. In each, pour 1 ounce hibiscus-thyme tea and 1½ ounces dark rum. Top each with pineapple juice. Stir gently and garnish with pineapple slice, cherry and thyme sprig.

Sherrie Castellano is a former health coach turned food writer, photographer and pop-up chef based in St. Louis. A collection of Sherrie’s recipes, stories and images can be found on her Saveur Blog Award-nominated website, With Food + Love. Sherrie is currently the marketing director for Midwest-based Big Heart Tea Co.

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