CHILL SUMMER DRINKS
There's little more enjoyable than relaxing under the summer sun with a delicious beverage in hand. The cost of cocktails has skyrocketed over the last few years and it's not uncommon to pay $16 or so for just one drink at a bar or restaurant. But mixed drinks don't have to be expensive to taste terrific, and mixing them at home means you can indulge more often for a lot less money. Here are Cheapism.com's choices for 10 refreshing summer cocktails that cost a few dollars to make.
SPIKED LEMONADE ($1.67/SERVING)
A traditional summer favorite, sweet and tangy lemonade gets a kick from vodka in this adult- only refresher. To make two drinks, in a shaker filled with ice combine the juice of two lemons (roughly 2 ounces; $1) with 1 ounce agave syrup (60 cents), 2 ounces vodka ($1.50), and 2 ounces ice cold water. Shake to combine and strain into chilled glasses holding fresh ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint (25 cents).
WHITE SANGRIA ($3.42/SERVING)
Crisp and light, this is a perfect punch for daytime parties or really hot afternoons. To make eight servings, combine one bottle of aromatic still white wine, such as gewurtztraminer, riesling, or vinho verde ($10), with one sliced peach ($1), one sliced apple (75 cents), one sliced cucumber ($1), a box of raspberries ($4), and one bottle of cava or prosecco ($10). If you prefer a sweeter mix, start with a sweeter base wine or add 2 tablespoons agave syrup (60 cents) before the sparkling wine.
PEPPER AND ICE ($4.10/SERVING)
This is a simple and tasty cocktail that brings out the nuances of fine spirits. Using a premium vodka or gin, which costs about double the "house pour," add 2 ounces ($4) to a glass with a large chunk of ice, and using a pepper mill, roughly crack black pepper (10 cents) over the contents. The oils in the spirit and pepper will interact and produce an elegant and layered flavor profile.
WATERMELON LIME COOLER ($3.25/SERVING)
This drink combines tart lime with sweet refreshing watermelon to make a beverage that tastes like liquid summer in a glass. In a blender combine 1 cup fresh watermelon ($1.50) with 2 ounces lime juice (about three to four limes; $1), 4 ounces vanilla vodka (also pricier than the standard stuff; $4), and half a cup of ice cubes. Blend until combined and serve in two tall chilled glasses.
BASIL SPRITZ ($1.73/SERVING)
Adding fresh herbs to beverages keeps them full flavored while remaining light and easy to sip. For a single serving start by muddling 10 or so leaves of basil (25 cents) in a glass with 1 tablespoon sugar (10 cents); add ice and 1.5 ounces white rum ($1.13) and top with sparkling water (25 cents). Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
LILLET COOLER ($3.25/SERVING)
Part liquor, part wine, and all delicious, Lillet is basically a cocktail in a bottle, made from wine and brandy infused with a secret blend of herbs and fruits. Lillet comes in white, red, and rosé versions, all very tasty, with the rosé being particularly fresh. To enjoy, pour 3 ounces ($3) into a glass over ice and top with sparkling water (25 cents).
This classic drink is simple and tasty with a bright tart kick from fresh lime juice. In a shaker filled with ice combine 2 ounces white rum ($1.50), 1 ounce lime juice (50 cents), and one-half ounce agave syrup (30 cents). Shake vigorously to combine and strain into a chilled glass.
Refreshing grapefruit soda makes this drink feel just like adult soda -- and dangerously good. In a tall glass over ice add 2 ounces 100 percent agave blanco tequila ($2), 1 ounce lime juice (50 cents), and top with grapefruit soda (50 cents). Garnish with a lime wheel.
A simple classic, margaritas pair incomparably well with summer sun and lazy afternoons. To make this favorite drink, in a shaker filled with ice combine 2 ounces 100 percent agave tequila ($2) with 1 ounce lime juice (50 cents) and one-half ounce agave syrup (30 cents). Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled and salt-rimmed, ice-filled glass.
GRAPE COOLER ($2.95/SERVING)
Grapes and cucumber add a spa-like touch to this dainty cocktail. Start by muddling four grapes and four cucumber slices with 1 tablespoon sugar (35 cents) in a shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and add 2 ounces gin ($1.50) and 1 ounce lemon juice (50 cents). Shake to combine and then chill. Pour into a chilled glass, top with sparkling water (50 cents), and garnish with two sliced grapes and a cucumber wheel (10 cents).