Yes, you can drink whiskey in the summer
When summer days become endlessly hot and muggy, those of us who enjoy the occasional summer beverage often reach for lighters spirits such as gin, vodka and the ubiquitous rosé. But warmer weather doesn’t mean your whiskey needs to get neglected at the back of your bar cart.
“The misconception of wood-aged spirits only being imbibed during the cold autumn and winter months is just that — a misconception,” said Tommy Ho, assistant general manager at Houston’s Anvil Bar and Refuge and no stranger to mixing spirits in sweltering summer temps.
“There are a plethora of cocktails that use aged spirits like whiskey, brandy and rum that can be utterly refreshing during times of heat,” he said. “You’re selling yourself short if you don’t give these spirits their limelight during the warmer months of the year.”
So how best to incorporate these winter staples into your summer cocktails?
Mikey Kilbourne of Atlanta’s One Eared Stag recommends thinking “lighter and brighter when mixing drinks in warm months... It’s all about what you mix [your spirit] with.” He noted that fruits, shrubs, and vinegars, which “highlight aged spirits’ lighter sides,” are the perfect complements to heavier bar staples.
Husk Charleston’s bar manager Justin Simko recommends “using good produce during the height of its growing season [to] help make cocktails better suited to the summer and [to] break the mold for ‘winter’ spirits.”
Neal Bodenheimer, mixologist and owner of Cure and Cane and Table in New Orleans, concurs. “Coconut, pineapple and even stone fruit lend themselves to summer drinks. A lot of new Scotches on the market have lighter profiles which lean towards fruitier and lighter drinks — perfect for summer.”
Use the following recipes from these and other Southern bartenders and drink experts to keep traditional winter liquors front and center on your bar cart during the warmer months.
Scotch & Coconut
Nick Detrich of Cure and Cane and Table in New Orleans
1 ounce Don Q Gran anejo rum
1 ounce Monkey Shoulder blended malt Scotch whisky
1/2 ounce coconut water
1/4 ounce dry Curaçao liqueur
1 barspoon demerara syrup
2 dashes Mole bitters
1 large ice ball or cube made from frozen coconut water
In a cocktail mixing glass, combine the rum, whisky, coconut water, Curaçao, demerara and bitters. Fill with ice cubes and stir until cold. Strain into a rocks glass and add the coconut water ice ball. Serve immediately.
Justin Simko of Husk in Charleston
2 ounces Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond bourbon
1/4 ounce Giffard Crème de Pamplemousse rose liqueur
1/2 ounce grapefruit drinking vinegar
3 drops salt water
Ice cubes, for shaking, plus 1 large ice cube, for serving
Large grapefruit twist, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, rose liqueur, drinking vinegar and salt water. Fill with ice and shake until cold. Strain the drink through a small fine-mesh strainer into a rocks glass. Add the large ice cube and grapefruit twist. Serve immediately.
Jeff Zillman of Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston
1 1/4 ounces Old Grand Dad Bottled-in-Bond bourbon
1 ounce pineapple juice
3/4 ounce Cocchi Torino
1/2 ounce pomegranate grenadine
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Crushed ice, for serving
2 pineapple leaves, for garnish
2 pineapple wedges, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, pineapple juice, Cocchi Torino, grenadine, passion fruit syrup and lime juice. Fill with ice and shake until cold. Strain the drink into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the pineapple leaves and wedges. Serve immediately.
Laura Scholz is a freelance writer with a passion for spirits and wellness who believes life, like a good cocktail, is best lived in balance. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Eater Atlanta, Liquor.com, SevenFifty Daily, Simply Buckhead and Tales of the Cocktail. Laura is also a certified Pilates and TRX instructor who loves running, yoga, live music, traveling, hiking with her dog, and playing the piano and ukulele. She lives on Atlanta’s Westside with her husband Tim and freely admits she does more singing, dancing and drinking than cooking in her Southern kitchen.