- On May 24, 2016
It’s hot, you’re sweaty and all you want is something cool to drink. But you’re stuck at this family barbecue for a few more hours, and you don’t want to be “that” family member. We’ve all been there. So, what are some simple, delicious, low-proof cocktails to make this Memorial Day weekend? We’ve got the answers!
The Highball cocktail is a very varied creature. Most traditionally, it is composed of simply a spirit and soda water. However, a “Highball” can now be applied to a host of drinks such as the gin & tonic, mule or Cuba Libre. While a traditional Highball can be made with any type of spirit (Scotch being the most common), one of our favorites is simply vermouth and soda. Skip the dry stuff, as it will just wash out in the cocktail, but any sweet vermouth will do the trick. Mixed with a rough ratio of 1:2, vermouth:seltzer, it is both simple and absolutely quenching. You can use a simple Dolin Rouge for a lighter style, Carpano Antica if you want something a little more robust, or go all in with Punt e Mes to highlight the bitterness of traditional Italian-style sweet vermouths. You can mix it up with all kinds of aperitif wines in this style of cocktail to create unique and nuanced recipes. Whether it be subbing in a gentian-based aperitivo, or blending bianco (light-bodied sweet vermouth) in, there are tons of ways to play. These vermouth and aperitif beverages have been a European staple for many, many years, but have yet to make a big splash in the US. Speaking of which, a splash of lemon wouldn’t go amiss.
Taking the vermouth highball a step further, we come to the Americano. One of the Italy’s classic cocktail contributions. First crafted by the creator of Campari, Gaspare Campari, this beverage is over 150 years old! Originally dubbed the “Milano-Torino” due to its components’ places of origin (Campari from Milan, vermouth from Torino), the cocktail was renamed in the early 1900s with the supposed reason being a rabid American enjoyment of it. Take the highball we just discussed and skew the ingredients a bit, and we have the Americano. Equal parts sweet vermouth (really, only the bolder Italian style will do), Campari (or another bitter of your choosing) and soda, it doesn’t get much simpler than that! Now, if we were to update the recipe just a smidge, we would recommend going with 1 part bitter, 2 parts sweet, and 5 parts weak. If you’re feeling crafty, toss some cocktail bitters in there to mix it up!
The final and fanciest iteration of this trend we’ll discuss is the Aperol Spritz. How can you not love something called a spritz!? First gaining popularity in the 1950s, this one really doesn’t work without the specific component ingredients. Thus, we recommend sticking to the script. It’s as easy as 3, 2, 1 with Prosecco, Aperol and soda water falling in line as such. It’s refreshing, elegant, and surprisingly nuanced given how simple its ingredients are. Traditionally garnished with a slice of orange to add a pop of citrus, fresh strawberries are a great inclusion also!