These long, beautiful days of sunshine will usher in a particularly delightful way of imbibing – day drinking. With the sunshine stretching well past 7 p.m., these marathon days of revelry can certainly take down even the most seasoned pro. With baseball games, grill outs and pool openings, there are endless ways to spend the day tipping back a few with friends and family. If you’re not into imbibing wine and beer all day and would prefer to drink cocktails but not end up asleep by 3pm this post is for you. There are so many wonderful low octane, or shim, cocktails that you can put in your arsenal of cocktails to get your through these long beautiful days. By drinking cocktails with lower proof spirits such as amaros, aperitifs, and digestifs you can still have the full flavor impact of a higher proof cocktail and still make it to dinner. Here are some great twists on some of my favorite low proof cocktails:
AMERICANO: 1 oz Campari, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, soda water
Campari can be a bit polarizing, as it is very bitter. I like to mix it up with Aperol or Cappaletti. Cocchi Americano is also a great option. There are also a number of great low calorie flavored soda waters such as La Croix, and I will often use these in place of just plain old soda water. Why? Because I like to believe that I’m fancy. I also like this brand because it isn’t sweet and the flavors are subtle. I often use the orange, lime or passion fruit when I’m feeling tropical.
APEROL SPRITZ: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, 1 part soda water
I like to mix this cocktail up by making an easy thyme simple syrup, which I think adds a nice layer of flavor. Add 1 part simple syrup to the cocktail recipe above. Instead of soda water, use blood orange san pellegrino to really just make you swoon. I also like to switch out the prosecco for sparkling rose, because it’s spring and I think pink bubbles should be mandatory.
Thyme Simple Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
8 sprigs of thyme
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add sugar and water. Once sugar has dissolved, add thyme. Bring mixture up a to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow syrup to cool and then strain out thyme. Store in an airtight container in the fridge
NEGRONI: 1 part gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 part Campari
This is one of my favorite cocktails, but it can be a overwhelming for the palette. There are two solutions to this. You can make this a blended drink which makes it so delicious. Yes, you read that right, blended negronis, a negroni slushy if you will. I like to add a little orange juice just to sweeten it up a bit when I’m making the blended version. Another way to make this cocktail slightly more approachable is to make a white negroni. For this recipe I use Watershed Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin, Cocchi Americano and Dolin Blanc. Not as forward in the bitterness like a traditional Negroni, and the Dolin Blanc really adds a nice balance and brings out the floral and botanical aspects of the Cocchi.
TIPSY CANOE: 2 part Dolin Blanc, 1 part St.Germaine-cucumber and watermelon
This isn’t a classic cocktail, but I’ve shared so many versions of this cocktail through out the years that it feels classic to me. Dolin Blanc is like my ranch dressing, I want to use it on everything. St.Germaine has been referred to as bartender ketchup. So really this recipe can’t lose. I make this by the pitcher and garnish with cucumber slices and chopped watermelon. This cocktail was inspired by some frozen watermelon balls I made for a canoeing trip. I drenched the watermelon in St. Germaine, Dolin Blanc and a cucumber simple syrup and then froze them over night. Packed them up the next day for the trip and well you can see where the name of the cocktail came from. We had designated canoe rowers, not to fret. This will always be one of my favorite cocktail recipes to drink and share.
Cucumber Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 slices of cucumber
In a sauce pan over medium-low heat add sugar and water. Once sugar has dissolved, add cucumbers and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not let mixture come to a boil, so you don’t over cook the cucumber. Allow mixture to cool and then strain out cucumber and pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge.
So friends, now that you are armed with some low proof options I trust you will make it through day drinking unscathed. Cheers to long days and even longer spring evenings.
Your neighborhood bar geek,