Celebrate Summer: Readers Offer Favorite Cocktail Recipes for a Refreshing Break on a Hot Day
July 15, 2017 5:00 AM
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It’s summer in Central Pennsylvania, the perfect season to enjoy some refreshing libations. While a classic cocktail such as an old fashioned or a mint julep will never lead you astray, it’s always fun to mix up a few new concoctions with friends using fresh herbs and fruits to give them a seasonal flavor.

The idea of mixed drinks dates to ancient times when it was thought that certain combinations could cure what ails you. A cocktail is traditionally a mixture of spirits, sugar or simple syrup, water, and bitters. There are many stories behind where the word cocktail originated; one story suggests that a rooster’s tail was used as a Colonial drink garnish. Another is that it was derived from the French word coquetel, an eggcup that was used for serving drinks.

The first printed use of the word cocktail to refer to an alcoholic beverage appeared in 1806 in the paper The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, New York. Some of the best and best-known cocktails that we think about today — the martini, the daiquiri, the Manhattan — came out between the 1860s and Prohibition. In the Prohibition era (1920 to 1933), speakeasies and saloons would dilute the taste of moonshine with sugar and bitters, paving the way for our modern-day cocktail.

Knowing which cocktails are shaken, not stirred, is crucial to the overall taste, flavor, and consistency of the drink. As a rule, cocktails that include fruit juices, cream liqueurs, simple syrup, sour mix, egg, and dairy are shaken. This ensures that all the ingredients are fully incorporated and in the process, more ice is broken down, adding an amount of water that helps balance the flavors in the drink. Straining the drink after being shaken will initially create an effervescent look to the drink that will clear up within minutes.

Garnishes such as fruit wedges, slices or twists, as well as maraschino cherries, not only add a visual appeal to the cocktail, but instill a sweetness or tartness to the drink. Olives and onions in a martini, for example, add an undertone of savory flavor. Other edible garnishes include spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, sprigs of mint and other herbs, all of which enhance the flavors in a cocktail.

Finally, whether you stir or shake up a few cocktails this summer season, have fun experimenting, and always drink responsibly.

The staff at Town&Gown thanks the loyal readers who submitted recipes for the Summer Cocktail Contest. And now, to the recipes…


Strawberry Peach Kombucha Sangria

(Submitted by Lana Bernhard)


 1 bottle ginger kombucha

1 handful mint leaves

1 peach

1 cup strawberries

¼ cup peach schnapps

1 bottle white wine

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher or punch bowl.


The Hawaiian Lion

(Submitted by Lucy Rogers, Big Springs Spirits)



2 ounces Big Spring Seven Governors gin

1½ ounces basil-pineapple syrup*

½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

Top with club soda, toss in a shaker and refill into Collins glass.

Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

*Basil-pineapple syrup Bring 2 cups sugar and 2 cups pineapple juice to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring just until sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from heat. Add 1 cup (packed) basil leaves, and steep 10 minutes. Press through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid; discard solids. Cool completely (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a jar; cover and refrigerate up to 3 months.


Champ de Lavande (French for lavender field)

(Submitted by Liz Hoffner Revival Kitchen)


1 ounce Hendricks gin

3 ounces blueberry lavender syrup*

Juice of ½ a lemon (½ ounce)

Shake and top with soda water

Garnish with frozen blueberries or a lemon twist

Combine over ice

*Blueberry lavender syrup

4 cups blueberries

1 cup water

½ cup sugar in the raw

Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 lavender bundle (4-5 sprigs)

Combine sugar and blueberries in a heavy pot and crush with the back of spoon or potato masher; add the water, lemon juice and lavender. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium to high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture has reduced and thickened. Strain the mixture either through cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer over a large bowl, gently press or squeeze the solids to extract all of the flavorful syrup and toss out the solids; let the syrup cool completely before using.


The Ruby Throated Hummingbird

(Submitted by Claudia Sarnow The Hummingbird Room)


½ teaspoon grenadine

1½ ounces Big Springs Spirits white rum

¾ ounce Midori melon liqueur

4 ounces ginger beer (Gosling ’s or other Caribbean brands)

Pour grenadine into the bottom of cocktail/martini glass. Set aside. In a shaker filled with crushed ice, add the remaining ingredients and shake, shake, shake until well combined. Gently pour mixture into the glass over the back of a spoon so as not to disturb the grenadine. Garnish with a rondelle of lime.


Cranberry Mojito

(Submitted by Brooke Gertz)


10 slices of cucumber, plus more for garnish

8 raspberries, plus more for garnish

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

4 ounces white rum

1 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon agave

6 ounces club soda

In a large shaker, muddle cucumber, raspberries, mint, and rum until cucumber is broken up a bit. Add lime juice and agave. Fill glasses with ice, strain mixture, top off with club soda and garnish.


Watermelon Fresca

(Submitted by Curtis Shulman, Allen Street Grill)



4 ounces fresh pressed watermelon juice

1 ounce Elyx vodka

1¼ ounces white rum

1 ounce fresh lime juice


Mix all ingredients and serve.


Coconut Mango Mojito

(Submitted by Lucy Rogers, Big Springs Spirits)




20 fresh mint leaves

3 ounce Big Spring Coconut Rum

4 ounces of mango puree (recommend Goya brand)

0.75 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice


In a shaker with an ice cube or two, muddle about 20 fresh mint leaves with an ounce of Big Spring Coconut Rum. Once well incorporated, add two more ounces of coconut rum, 4 ounces of mango puree, and 0.75 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice, and a bit more ice.


Shake vigorously, and then strain into a 16-oz ice-filled hurricane or pint glass. Garnish with fresh mint and serve.


Garden Summer Mojito

(Submitted by Paul KendeffyCarnegie Inn)



2 oz white rum

1 oz Fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

5 large mint leaves

2 large basil leaves

3 sprigs thyme

Club soda


Muddle the mint, thyme, basil and sugar. Fill the glass with ice. Pour the rum on top and top off with club soda. Garnish with fresh mint leaf and lime slice!


Cranberry Ginger Kombucha Mimosa

(Submitted by Lana Bernhard) 



750 ml bottle of champagne, chilled

3 cups ginger kombucha

1 cup orange juice, chilled

½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice, chilled

Fresh cranberries & sliced oranges, for garnish


Mixed all ingredients and serve.


Latina Lemonada

(Submitted by Justin Kondash)



2 ounces tequila

1.5 ounces Countrea

Juice of a lemon and slice of lemon for garnish

Simple syrup

Club Soda

Sprig of mint


Shake it hard, strain on fresh ice, splash it with soda. Garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of mint.


Ningxia Rum Punch

(Submitted by Charlene Chambers)



1 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup Young Living Ningxia Red Juice

2 cup white rum

1 cup coconut rum

2 cup pineapple juice

2 cup orange juice

12 drops Young Living Citrus Vitality Essential Oils (I used 3 drops each orange, lemon, lime, and citrus fresh)


Make simple syrup with the water and sugar by heating them to a slight boil and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. Add all other ingredients to an extra large pitcher or punch bowl. Stir in the cooled simple syrup. Fill glasses to the top with ice. Pour punch into glasses and garnish with an orange or pineapple slice.


Blackberry Lime Margaritas 
(Submitted by Charlene Chambers) 


½ cup blackberry simple syrup*

4-5 drops Young Living Lime Vitality essential oil (2 tablespoons lime juice may be substituted)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

8 ounces Grand Marnier liqueur

8 ounces good-quality tequila

Garnish: lime wedges, blackberries, salt rim


*Blackberry Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup blackberries

Combine the sugar, water and blackberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, breaking the blackberries up with the back of a spoon. Strain the syrup through a mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside. Chill until you are ready to use.

In a cocktail shaker, add the blackberry simple syrup, lime essential oil, lime juice, Grand Marnier and tequila. Shake vigorously and then pour into salt rimmed glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedges and blackberries.


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