From punch to Pimm's, 21 of Southern Kitchen’s best porch-sipping, warm-weather cocktails
It's that time of the year again, when the weather turns warm and sitting outside with a drink seems novel. Here, we've gathered some of our best recipes for warm-weather drinks to sip on the porch.
But first, an ice cube recipe. If a recipe for ice cubes sounds ludicrous, you've never met these, made from vegetable and citrus juice. You'll need a juicer to execute them, so feel free to skip right over to the drink recipes if you don't have one.
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Cucumber and rosemary ice cubes
Cucumber and rosemary work beautifully together, especially when paired in a cocktail. These cubes incorporate both and will taste great in a gin and tonic or French 75. They'll also jazz up plain lemonade. This recipe calls for a silicone ice cube mold, but you can get away with standard ice cube trays.
Serves: 6 cubes
2 English cucumbers, cut into large pieces
Juice of 1 lime
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from stem
Using an electric juicer, juice the cucumbers into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lime juice.
Place two small pieces of rosemary in each cube of a silicone ice cube mold. Evenly fill each mold with the cucumber mixture and freeze until solid, at least 8 hours. Remove the cubes from the mold and add to your desired beverage, including the next recipe.
Two takes on spring spritzes
In general, spritzes are easy to make and follow a simple rule: two parts bitter liqueur, three parts sparkling wine and one part soda water. Here are two of our favorite alternatives to the classic Aperol spritz.
Campari lends its well-balanced, classic flavor to this light and bitter-sweet spritz.
2 ounces Campari
3 ounces Prosecco
1 ounce sparkling water
Orange slice, for garnish
Fill a wine glass with ice and add Campari. Top with prosecco and sparkling water. Garnish with orange slice.
Amaro Nonino Spritz
Amaro Nonino is more than just a beautiful bottle. The sweet and subtly bitter liqueur is a good entry amaro for a less bitter spritz.
2 ounces Amaro Nonino
3 ounces Prosecco
1 ounce sparkling water
Orange slice, for garnish
Fill a wine glass with ice and add Amaro Nonino. Top with prosecco and sparkling water. Garnish with orange slice.
The rest of the best spring cocktails
The Puritan: This variation on a martini dates back to the end of the 19th century when dry gin was making an impact on American cocktail culture. The Puritan usually calls for orange bitters, this recipe calls for herbaceous and slightly savory lemon thyme bitters. Get the recipe
Peachy Keen punch: This refreshing peach-filled punch would be perfect for your next backyard barbecue, as it serves a crowd: 12 to 18 people. Full of herbs and a decent amount of bourbon, this is a perfect drink for whiling away a warm Sunday evening with friends. Get the recipe
Bourbon Peach Cooler: This bourbon peach cooler tastes like summers spent on the porch. Featuring fresh peach nectar, peach schnapps and unsweetened tea, this cocktail is on the lighter side and full of warm weather-friendly fruit flavors. Get the recipe
Ain’t Wasting No More Time: Get ready to channel your inner bartender. This is a complicated recipe, but well worth the effort. You'll need to make a simple syrup with the green cardamom and peaches, both of which play perfectly with Buffalo Trace’s famously peppery bourbon. The result is a uniquely spiced cocktail that your friends will request again and again. Get the recipe
Bourbon Prosecco Spritzer: Who said you can’t make a whiskey mimosa? Likely no one in the South. This herbaceous citrusy cocktail is a great alternative to a traditional brunch cocktail. It's delicious and perfect for warm weather. Get the recipe
Georgia Gin Cocktail: This three-ingredient cocktail could not be easier to throw together. No making bitters or simple syrups here. Simply shake together gin, schnapps and orange juice with some ice, strain, sip and enjoy the weather. Get the recipe
Sparkling Jalapeño Margaritas: This recipe is from Kelsey Barnard Clark's latest book, "Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook." It's slightly savory, sparkling, a tiny bit spicy and contains zero refined sugar. The recipe calls for mezcal, but you can substitute a nice reposado tequila instead. Get the recipe
Frozen Strawberry Margaritas: This fruit-filled cocktail is about as seasonal as it gets. If you're looking to cut the sugar, you can swap out some of the frozen limeade with fresh-squeezed citrus and a handful of ice cubes. Get the recipe
Big Easy Pimm’s Cup: This herbaceous ginger-flavored cocktail is practically made for warm weather. Originating in England in the 1840s, this gin-based drink gained fame a second time by way of the Napoleon House Hotel in New Orleans, where it remains a beloved classic. Get the recipe
Pear-fect Chamomile Cooler: Pear liqueur, vodka and chamomile simple syrup combine for a soothing cocktail meant for sitting in the spring sunshine. It’s delicate enough to enjoy alongside teacakes, yet assertive enough to impress true cocktail lovers. Get the recipe
Oaks Lily Cocktail: The unsung cocktail hero of Churchill Downs, this is a slightly sweeter riff on a cosmopolitan, though tart cranberry juice keeps this drink from teetering too far into saccharine territory. Get the recipe
Hurricane Cocktail: This drink gets its name from the glass in which it's usually served, said to resemble a hurricane lamp. Rum-forward and full of juicy citrus flavors, you'll want to make this one when the mercury begins to climb. Get the recipe
Southern Sangria: This citrus-forward sangria recipe gets an extra orange punch from Gran Torres liqueur. Wine is the star here, but you don't need your best for this recipe. At the same time, you don't want to use your worst plonk either. Get the recipe
Whiski-Tiki Cocktail: We love the tropical feel of this whiskey cocktail, with its pineapple juice, orgeat and citrus. You'll almost want to open your own tiki bar in the backyard. Get the recipe
Southern Fernet Sipper: The bitterness of the Fernet and brightness of the citrus cut the sweetness in this sophisticated take on a Fernet and Coke. We love the addition of the honey-infused cherry coke syrup and the way it plays with the spiced and minty layers of the amaro. Get the recipe
Tree Frog Cocktail: This frozen banana daiquiri with a twist came from Katie Button Restaurants in Asheville, courtesy of the now-closed Nightbell, which had legendary cocktails. May this drink become a legend in your home. Get the recipe
Comfortably Numb: This beguiling tropical cocktail requires infusing rum with coconut flakes for a day or two, but you'll be happy you took the time. Dark rum, fresh citrus and nutmeg round out the island flavor profile nicely. Get the recipe
Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe, simple syrup and bitters combine with lemon for an easy-to-make, refreshing drink that's practically meant for hanging out in the backyard on a warm spring evening. Get the recipe
Mezcal Green Tea Strong Palmer: This cocktail has a long name, but it won't stay long in your glass. Green tea, lemon and mezcal combine for a drink that's smoky, citrusy and lightly herbaceous for a refreshing spring sipper. Get the recipe
Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.
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