Easy late summer cocktails
Invite our Boozy Blackberry Limeade, Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco and Watermelon Grapefruit Slushie to your Labor Day gathering.
The last holiday of the summer, Labor Day, will be here in two weeks. Although the calendar says there are 2½ weeks of summer following the Labor Day weekend, for a lot of people (myself included), fall starts—at least psychologically—on Sept. 7.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to send summer off with a fanfare, and here are three drink recipes you can make to toast the end of a season. Boozy Blackberry Limeade features a delightful berry and sage simple syrup and vodka, a great cocktail for the last summer barbecue on the patio; Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco is an elegant drink that would add sparkle to a weekend al fresco brunch; and Watermelon Grapefruit Slushie could provide fizzy fun to a back-to-school block party. So, head to the bar cart and let’s get this party started!
Boozy Blackberry Limeade
Boozy Blackberry Limeade is my new favorite summer cocktail. I’m bringing a batch to a Labor Day swim party. This simple yet versatile drink is on the sweeter side, but the citrus provides just enough sour to make the perfect balance. It’ll pair well with smoky and sauced barbecue (think ribs, burgers, or if you’re in St. Louis, the ever-present pork steak). Make it about 30 minutes before guests arrive and you’ll have a pitcher at the ready.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
2 cups water
1 cup blackberries
6 leaves fresh sage
1½ cups sugar
juice of 6 limes
8 cups water
Here’s where the versatility comes into play. Don’t have limes on hand? Use lemons! The original recipe from hostthetoast.com called for lemonade. You also can do a quick cheat and substitute a can of frozen limeade (or lemonade) concentrate. If you chose the concentrate, go easy with the simple syrup in the drink. It will still add the beautiful color, but remember to taste the amount for desired sweetness.
Water, blackberries, sage, and sugar is heated to a boil and simmered 10 minutes. Mash the berries, strain, and cool the syrup in the refrigerator. When the syrup is ready, combine the lime (or lemon) juice (or frozen concentrate) with water. You could add vodka to pitcher, or leave the mixture “virgin” and add liquor as requested; not everybody may want the booze.
The recipe makes 8 to 12 servings, so figure 1 ounce of vodka (conservative) per 8-ounce glass. If you’re gathering is smaller, you can freeze the syrup/fruit juice mixture for later. Just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight to use the next day.
Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco
You and your spouse packed off your student(s) last week for college and the house, once again, is all yours. This calls for a romantic patio brunch, and Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco will make the meal—however simple or elaborate—special. This drink couldn’t be simpler.
To make this recipe, you’ll need:
3 cups prosecco, chilled
1 cup limoncello, chilled
1 cup frozen raspberries
Mint (to garnish) if desired
Prosecco is a wine named after the village of Prosecco in the province of Trieste, Italy. Made from the Glera grape (formerly the Prosecco grape), it is almost always a sparkling or semi-sparkling white wine. It dates as far back as the 16th century. The sweetness of this wine is labeled as dry (17–32 grams per litre of residual sugar), extra-dry—the dominant style made—(12–17 grams of sugar per litre), and Brut (up to 12 grams per litre of sugar).
Limoncello, the marvelous liqueur from southern Italy, is made from lemon zest steeped in rectified alcohol and combined with simple syrup. Often sipped chilled on its own following a meal, limoncello is also found in cocktails and desserts (don’t forget about home cook’s Lisa Waterman Gray’s Limoncello Cheesecake; it would make a beautiful finish to your brunch.
To make Raspberry Limonello Prosecco, I chose Bonotto prosecco (Brut) from Extra Virgin An Olive Ovation. If you’re in the St. Louis area, this outstanding specialty food store hosts wine tastings every weekend. I saved a bit of the Bonotto prosecco to enjoy on its own, and it also worked beautifully in the cocktail.
After cleaning the raspberries and setting them on a paper towel to dry, I placed the cup of berries in the freezer for about four hours. This is such a smart way to keep this cocktail chilled without any dilution.
If you’re making this recipe for just a couple of people and thus will have leftover prosecco, fear not! Although you can’t reuse the cork, you can save it to drink later in the day or the following day by storing it in the refrigerator with a spoon stopper. Just dangle a silver or stainless (no plastic) spoon—bowl up, handle inside opening—and put keep the bottle cold. I saw this trick online, tried it, and it worked.
Watermelon Grapefruit Slushie
Here’s a refreshing non-alcoholic drink your kids or grandchildren can enjoy with you. Using just four ingredients, you can invite the little ones to help you make this sweet treat.
When my daughter was in elementary school, neighbors on our cul-de-sac often held a party for neighbors to celebrate the upcoming school year. Folding tables were set out at the top of our street and families carried over a dish or two for everybody to share. The kids played and rode their bikes around the circular island while parents chatted and sipped cold beers and cocktails.
Many neighborhoods hold similar gatherings; the city I live in is planning a back-to-school event for families complete with kids’ activities and live music. If you’re planning to attend a neighborhood party over the next couple of weeks, or simply having the grandchildren over for a sleepover before school starts, give this slushie from Schnucks test kitchens a try.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
4 cups of watermelon chunks
2 cups of 100% grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
2 cans sparkling strawberry water
The watermelon will take about four hours to freeze. When you’re ready to make the slushies, set the melon out for about five minutes. After that, all you do is blend the grapefruit juice with lime and mint leaves. Add the frozen watermelon and divide among four glasses. Top each with a half can of sparkling water and garnish (if desired) with a lime wedge and strawberry or a small slice of melon if you have any leftover.
If adults want to make this a boozy slushie, an ounce of lemon vodka would play well in the drink (wink); for some, it's been a long summer!
You and your spouse packed off your student(s) last week for colleg and the house, once again, is all yours. This calls for a romantic patio brunch, and Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco will make the meal—however simple or elaborate—special. This drink couldn’t be simpler. every day is a blessing to us.