By Melissa Charlene
Scroll to the end if you want to dive right into the recipes. Read on for Mel’s Guide to Summer Sippers.
Have Your Drink and Your Best Bod, Too
Let’s face it – we want to look fit and have fun! If you’re tracking macros, Brittney recommends swapping a few grams of carbs (20 g, to be exact) for every alcoholic beverage you want to enjoy.
Protein is essential, not only for our muscles, but also for repairing and maintaining other tissues, and for proper hormonal function. Fat, too, is essential for hormonal regulation. Therefore, if we want to sip on a few summer cocktails, let’s swap our carbs to lessen the blow that alcohol (another calorie source) has on our bods.
Plan for those special occasions: enjoy salads with chicken during the day, and let loose a little at night with a few adult bevvies and appies. Drink lots of water in between drinks. Enter your food and drinks into My Fitness Pal before you enjoy them so you don’t get too off course.
If you’re ready to sip somethin’ special in the sunshine, you’re going to love these 3 cocktail recipes – fresh from Melissa’s rooftop patio!
Melissa’s Guide to Summer Sippers
I love about a million things about summer, but one thing that tops the list is hosting. Gathering people that I can’t get enough of on my patio, picking the perfect sunset playlist, keeping everyone’s drink topped up, and laughing under twinkly lights into the night is what I live for. While I love hosting friends and family year round, there is a unique vibe that goes with summertime soirees and impromptu gatherings that just can’t be beat. Warm weather cocktails, too, have a different quality to them, and I like to follow a few guidelines when entertaining.
- Summer Cocktails Should Be Easy!
When your crew is laughing by the pool you don’t want to be inside, prepping a bunch of ingredients. I like to keep summer drinks down to only a few ingredients and steps, and do big batch prep for items like purees and infusions ahead of time. I also have a few key items always on hand so I can whip up a tasty drink for drop-in guests. List below!
- Summer Cocktails Should Be Refreshing!
In the fall and winter, my go to drinks are booze forward slowwwww sippers (think bourbon and scotch, stirred with other dark spirits and bitters). In the summer, however, I want to lighten up with crisp and fruity drinks, but hate the added sugar that often comes with them. Soda water and homemade syrups help cut down on the sugar problem.
- Summer Cocktails Shouldn’t Kick You in the Ass!
I don’t know about you, but when it’s a hot weekend day I’m way more tempted to mix myself up a drink earlier in the day than I would on a Saturday in October. And if I’m reaching for a cocktail earlier, I need it to be lighter so I’m not snuggled into bed at 7pm.
I have a few summer cocktail ingredients that I love to have on hand for any last minute hosting on the patio. They are all fairly versatile and store well.
- Mini bottles of prosecco: Many brands make these, which are so handy for adding a little fizz to a cocktail without opening a whole big bottle and letting it go flat (or even worse- feeling the pressure to finish it! 😉 ) My favourite minis are by Cupcake.
- Ikea concentrate syrups: I add the Elderflower one to bourbon in the fall and spring and drink it on the rocks, or add it to fruity cocktails or soda water. It is about $5.00, and only takes a splash to add sweetness to any drink so the bottle goes a long way:
- Lime juice: Lime juice adds a little zing to so many drinks, but the price of limes can get a little outrageous. Have a big bottle of the juice on hand for mixing with tequila for a “skinny” margarita, splashing into sangria, and simply squirting into a glass of ice water.
- Soda water: When I’m not in the mood to mix up a bunch of ingredients, or am trying to not add sugary syrups to my drinks, soda water saves the day. In the summer especially, it is almost impossible to go wrong with a clear spirit (gin, rum, cachaça, vodka), some muddled berries and mint, and a top up of soda water.
While I love classic summer drinks like traditional margaritas and Dark and Stormys, I have had a ton of fun mixing up some alternatives. Check out three that are on heavy rotation on my deck this month!
The Daisy Fay
This cocktail is one of my favourites for a few reasons. One, is that a virgin version is equally as delicious as the boozy one, and two, it is as easy as pouring a few ingredients into a glass! I love this Daisy Fay for impromptu guests, as I almost always have all of these common ingredients on hand after buying them once.
The Boozy Version: (207 Calories, 0 g F, 17.5 g C, 0 g P)
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 1 ½ ounces St. Germain Liqueur
- Top off with prosecco (I like La Marca, or the mini bottles of Cupcake)
- Garnish with a lemon twist or an edible flower
The Virgin Version: (26 Calories, 0 g F, 7 g C, 0 g P)
- I simply replace the St. Germaine with Ikea’s Elderflower drink concentrate, and the prosecco with soda water. Your designated drivers and pregnant ladies will feel as celebratory as if they were sipping proper bubbles!
Turn of Fraise (159 Calories, 0.6 g P, 0.6 g F, 11.3 g C)
In the fall and winter I am almost exclusively a bourbon or wine drinker, but come the summer I usually start craving something a little lighter for those hot patio days. I like this drink because the cognac is a nod to those booze forward winter drinks, but the strawberry puree and champagne lighten it up enough to sip poolside.
- 1 ounce cognac or brandy
- 3 ounce strawberry puree (If I have fresh strawberries I puree them straight in my food processor, if they are frozen I add water as needed to thin the puree enough to pour)
- Top with prosecco
- Stir with ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves
The Russian Tourist (45 Calories, 0 g F, 9.2 g C, 0.2 g P)
My husband loves drinks with a little kick, and has been very excited that I’ve started playing around with muddling jalapeños and chilies into drinks. This time I took it a little further and infused a bottle of vodka with pineapple and jalapeños, a recipe I got from one of my favourite cocktail books, Tiki with a Twist by Lynn Calvo. She uses this infusion in a wide variety of cocktails, from fruity and beachy to a chocolate-based drink. Buy her amazing book here.
While I don’t normally drink vodka, this sweet and spicy dichotomy uses it as a perfect base. The jalapeños add just the right amount of heat to make your tongue tingle, but the pineapple keeps things in check. While it takes a little planning ahead to infuse the vodka, it’s totally worth it. This refreshing (and relatively healthy!) drink has become my new summer favourite.
- 1 ounce pineapple jalapeño vodka*
- Soda water
- Splash of lime juice
- Stir over ice and garnish with a jalapeño round and pineapple wedge
*To make the vodka: In a large jar or jug that you can close tightly, place ½ a pineapple sliced in large chunks. Cut 2-3 jalapeños, seeds and all, in half lengthwise and add to the pineapple. Pour 1 liter of mid-range vodka over top, and close it up tightly. Let stand out of direct sunlight for 1 week, stirring daily. Sample after 2 days and if it seems too spicy, remove ½ of the peppers.
Have fun making these your own, and drink responsibly! Happy entertaining!