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Six summer cocktails to help celebrate the holidays

To make the most of the summer holidays, BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme has rounded up six invigorating cocktails and mocktails to see you through the longer days, whether you're dodging the rain clouds at home or soaking up the sun somewhere else.

From old favourites like margaritas and martinis to more unusual concoctions, these alcoholic and non-alcoholic recipes are a surefire way of brightening up your summer days, whatever the weather.

1. Margarita

As National Tequila Day was marked on 24 July, it would be remiss not to include a tequila-based cocktail. Tequila is a type of mezcal, a distilled drink made from the Agave plant. In order to be called ‘tequila’, it has to originate from one of five states in Mexico and be made specifically from blue agave (with 51 per cent of its sugars coming from this plant). Without these characteristics, it is just a generic mezcal.

It can take from six to 10 years for an agave plant to reach maturity, so the production of tequila is considerably slower than that of vodka or gin, which can be rapidly and cheaply produced.

This punchy spirit has seen a marked rise in consumption in recent years, second only to ever-popular gin. Forget the associations you have with stomach-turning rounds of tequila shots: the spirit is now to be sipped slowly. A margarita takes the salty and sour components of tequila shots and turns them into something to be savoured.

How to make a mean margarita

  • Prepare a plate with a layer of salt. Moisten the rim of a glass with a wedge of lime, then upturn the glass and roll the rim in the salt.

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then add 50ml tequila, 25ml lime juice, and 20ml triple sec (an orange liqueur). Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker feels cold. Strain it into the salted glass and serve with a lime wedge.

  • You can either serve the cocktail over ice, or you can chill the glass by filling it with ice before you get started. If it’s really sweltering outside, you can make a frozen margarita by placing the above ingredients into a blender with plenty of ice.
Margarita cocktail

2. Kombucha mocktails

Non-drinkers want great drinks too, and mocktails needn’t be sickly sweet impersonations of alcoholic tipples.

Kombucha is a fizzy drink made with fermented tea, which comes in a whole host of flavours as well as plain.

Freeze an assortment of summer berries and place a small handful in the bottom of a glass, then pour over a fruity kombucha. The berries will keep this thirst-quenching drink cold.

For something zingier, try an alcohol-free take on a Moscow Mule: squeeze the juice of a lime into a copper cup, fill it to the top with ice, then top it up with 150ml ginger kombucha and a wedge of lime.

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3. Bramble

Dick Bradsell was a legendary London bartender famed for developing cocktails we now consider to be staples on a drinks list. In the 1980s, he invented the Bramble cocktail while working as the bar manager at Fred’s Club, Soho. With gin’s popularity showing no sign of abating, there was no way we’d miss it off our list.

A bramble is a particularly eye-catching cocktail, stained a deep pink.

To make your own, pour 50ml gin, 25ml lemon juice, and 12.5ml sugar syrup into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it vigorously and strain into a glass packed with crushed ice.

Pour 12.5ml of crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur) over the top to give it its beautiful pinky red hue, then garnish with lemons and blackberries (bonus points if you’ve foraged the blackberries yourself).

Bramble cocktail

4. Espresso martini

The espresso martini, now much-Instagrammed and ubiquitous on nights out, was another creation of Dick Bradsell – though it was originally called a Vodka Espresso.

The story goes that a young model came into his bar and asked for something that would wake her up. The now-famous cocktail was his solution.

Whether or not you opt for an alcoholic version, it’s certain to give you a buzz and keep you awake long into the light summer evenings.

How to make an espresso martini for two

  • To make enough espresso martini for two, pour 15ml sugar syrup, a handful of ice, 100ml vodka, 50ml coffee liqueur and 50ml freshly brewed espresso (some like to chill it first) into a cocktail shaker.

  • Shake, then pour into chilled martini glasses.

  • Garnish each with three coffee beans for a classic finish.
Espresso martini cocktail

5. Espress-no martini

For a non-alcoholic espresso martini, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add 50ml chilled espresso, 25ml vanilla syrup or sugar syrup, and 25ml water then shake thoroughly.

Strain into a chilled glass and top with three coffee beans.

If you don’t have sugar syrup, it’s really easy to make your own: simply bring 100g caster sugar and 50ml water to the boil in a saucepan, stir well, then leave to cool.

You can keep a batch in a sterile bottle in the fridge.

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6. Michelada

This cooling Mexican cocktail skips out spirits and instead uses beer as its base.

Coat the rim of a large glass with lime juice and then salt, as you would with margarita. Set aside a wedge of lime, then squeeze the remainder of the fruit’s juice into the glass over four or five ice cubes.

Follow this with 50ml tomato juice and a few dashes each of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, then top the glass up with a light Mexican beer and garnish with the lime wedge.

For an alcohol-free equivalent, simply use a non-alcoholic light beer.


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