Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Rum Daisy Cocktail

Rum Daisy Cocktail in cocktail glass, with daisies in background

A modern twist on a 19th century American original  

Many popular cocktails combine booze and citrus (lemon or lime), with a bit of sugar added to balance the citrusy tartness. Indeed, that’s the basic recipe for a whole class of drinks called “sours” (such as the Whiskey Sour).

But what happens if you add some effervescence in the form of sparkling water? The mid-19th century bartenders who made this modification to the sour decided they had invented an entirely new class of drink. They called it the daisy.

Back then, brandy was the spirit of choice for daisies. But you can make this drink with any spirit—whiskey, gin, even tequila (and we like them all). During the hot summer months, though, we tend to prefer a rum-based daisy. Rum makes a perfect warm-weather spirit, and a Rum Daisy Cocktail is delicious before a light dinner.

Which is why we’ve been drinking this cocktail a lot lately. You might say we’re half crazy for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill in bowl

Beat the heat with this tangy starter

It’s cucumber season in our part of the world. We can’t seem to harvest them fast enough in our backyard garden. And every farmers’ market is overflowing with them.

So how about turning some of those cukes into a cool, refreshing first course? One that’s brimming with flavor, but not too heavy.

Chilled Cucumber Soup is the perfect summer starter. It’s also a versatile performer—you can change up ingredients to give it a different character every time you make it (more about this in the Notes). Best of all, it takes just minutes to prepare in the food processor.

You can make it ahead of time too. In fact, the flavor improves if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. So whip up this soup—and then head to the hammock for a summertime siesta. Because, hey, soup isn’t the only thing that improves with rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Brandy Smash Cocktail

Brandy Smash Cocktail with orange and mint garnish

The Mint Julep’s little brother

Long ago, in a century far away, the Brandy Smash was America’s most popular mixed drink. During the 1850s and 60s, drinkers flocked to this mint-infused charmer. But then (as so often happens with cocktails), it fell from favor.

Well, it’s about time for a revival, don’t you think?

A Brandy Smash is basically a shorter, less elaborate version of a Mint Julep. It’s easier to make than a julep, and (usually) contains less booze. And because it’s a smaller drink, it’s perfect for times when you want a refreshing tipple, but don’t have all afternoon to enjoy a long, slow sipper.

You don’t even need to use brandy in this drink if you don’t want to. Just substitute whiskey or gin—or almost any spirit that catches your fancy.

And the flavor? Smashing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

White Bean, Tuna, and Swiss Chard Salad

White Bean, Tuna, and Swiss Chard Salad with cherry tomato garnish

Beat the heat with this savory no-cook summer dish

There comes a time every summer when the heat gets us down. And cooking sounds like no fun at all.

So what to do? Well, just raid the garden for greens and the pantry for a few staples. Then put together this quick no-cook dish. It’s satisfying but not heavy, with loads of healthy flavor.

This salad makes a great one-dish meal or a hearty side. It’s perfect for picnics too. And it takes only minutes to prepare, so you’ll be out of the kitchen in no time—and ready for some summer fun. Pool party, anyone?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Sherry Cobbler Cocktail

Sherry Cobbler Cocktail with fruit garnish

The drink that popularized ice and straws

Ever have a cobbler? The drink, that is, not the dessert?

Back in the 19th century, the cobbler was one of the most popular mixed drinks around, with sherry usually serving as the base spirit. It was among the first drinks to include ice as an integral component—and one of the first to be served with a straw. More on that later.

The Sherry Cobbler has been out of favor for a long time, but we think it’s due for a revival. It makes a particularly tasty and refreshing summer drink. Plus, sherry has a fairly low alcoholic quotient. That means you can have a couple of these on a lazy afternoon and still keep your wits about you.

So why not mix up one of these charmers and sip a little cocktail history? Your great, great, great grandparents would approve.