Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jun 28, 2012

Summer Cocktails

July will be here next week and we've already experienced a few hot, beach days.  With 4th of July celebrations and numerous BBQ's peppering your summer, you're going to need some cocktail ideas to whip out when you're manning the grill, by the pool or the beach or soaking in the sun over a boozy brunch.

Micheladas are great throughout the year, but I associate them with Summer Happy Hours with friends at Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica.  I also like to make a whole pitcher of these to have on hand during pool parties.  It's like a Mexican version of a Bloody Mary and the ingredients are inexpensive. Malbec and I really like ours spicy and load them up with plenty of Tapatío.

I'm not sure why I associate Mexican cocktails with summer, but I do.  The flavors and heat just scream sunshine and beach days for me.  On a particularly lazy Sunday, I decided to play around with making a fruity and spicy margarita.  I had bought a ton of strawberries at the Farmers' Market that day and had some leftover jalapeño-infused tequila, so I created this Spicy Strawberry Basil Margarita.  The addition of basil not only made these cocktails look cool, but gave them a unique, herbal taste.  I snuck a pitcher onto the beach and Malbec, Blue Moon and I polished the whole thing off in no time.

Continuing with our Mexican theme, I bring you a nice, citrusy alternative to the Margarita with the equally classic Paloma.  I like to use fresh grapefruit juice in mine, but you can also use grapefruit soda.  These are also great cocktails to make by the pitcher, so if you're having to host a BBQ, set a few of these out and let guests rim their own glasses with salt.  

Ok, enough with the Mexican "coctels."  Let's switch over to Italian.  On hot summer evenings after work, one of my favorite drinks to make is the classic Negroni.  I love the bitterness of the Campari, and it's extra boozy with the addition of gin and sweet vermouth.  If you can't handle all the liquor in this cocktail, try making an Americano instead.  It's a slight variation that substitutes soda water for the gin.  Both of these are simple, go-to cocktails that everyone should have in their bartending arsenal. Plus, you just feel sophisticated and very Euro drinking them.

The beer cocktail has been having a recent Renaissance.  Last summer, I had a lot of Stella Artois left over from the LA Film Festival and a few baskets of raspberries.  This Raspberry Beer Cocktail reminds me of a Lambic (a Belgian fruit beer), but it amps the booze factor with the addition of vodka.  Good times!

All of these cocktails have used rather minimal ingredients and don't take long to shake or mix up for a party, but if you're looking for something a little more complicated, then this Summer Rye Cocktail is up your alley.  Bust out the champers, add some St. Germain, multiple fruit juices, rye whiskey and you have yourself a fresh-tasting libation that goes down rather quickly.  So shake up your summer and enjoy!