The Best Summer Cocktails for Sipping All Summer
Ditch the mojito and try this duo from a Napa Valley chef Cindy Pawlcyn
Summer is fast approaching, and with the warm weather comes a craving for refreshing, light cocktails born for porch parties and poolsides. This year, cut back on your summer day margaritas and daiquiris for these unique, summery cocktails instead.
Your new favorite cocktail recipes The Backstreet Batida and “Don’t Call Me Phil” Collins come from Napa Valley chef Cindy Pawlycyn. Cindy has been an icon in the San Francisco food scene for three decades with two restaurants in Napa Valley now: Mustards Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.
Her food relies on seasonal, farm-fresh flavors inspired by a childhood eating from a backyard garden. Her cocktails have the same freshness with fruity flavors derived from fresh juice. For these recipes, don’t substitute for canned juice if you can help it because the quality of the taste stems from that freshness. The extra time it takes to squeeze your own juices is saved by cutting out the muddling required of popular mojitos and mint juleps.
The Batida originates from Brazil with a name borrowed from Portuguese “batida” meaning “shaken” or “milkshake.” But this boozy babe is the freshest “milkshake” you’ll ever taste. It relies on the same liquor as a Caipirinha, another Brazilian cocktail.
Cachaça, the base liquor for the Backstreet Batida and the well-known Caipirinha, is a hard liquor made from the juice of sugar cane. It’s comparable to white rum, which is also produced from sugar cane, however, Cachaça is made from freshly pressed sugar cane juice rather than molasses (a byproduct of sugarcane) in the case of rum.
The result is a liquor that’s fruitier and lighter compared to the caramelized spice present in rum. That makes it perfect for this refreshing cocktail.
-1.5 ounces Ypioca Cachaça
-2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
-2 ounces fresh lime juice
-1 tsp. Sugarcane syrup
-1 dash orange bitters
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake well. Serve on the rocks (or blended) and garnish with a slice or wedge of lime.
When serving on the rocks, use a rocks or old-fashioned glass (like you’d serve a negroni in). If you’re blending (or using crushed ice), opt for a highball glass with a straw.
For a simpler garnish, opt for these dehydrated limes that provide the same visual without extra prep work.
The sugarcane syrup is essential to sweeten this drink. It’s similar to a simple syrup but relies on natural sugar rather than white sugar and a different preparation method to extract from the cane. Stock your bar with Steen’s Pure Sugar Cane Syrup for this recipe. If you’re short on time, simple syrup will have a similar effect (without the same depth of flavor).
Don’t replace the fresh pineapple and lime juice with bottled versions. If you have a juicer (or blender) at home, use that to make your own fresh pineapple juice. Otherwise, opt for a fresh-bottled version from the grocery store (not the cans you’ll often find at a bottle shop). For the lime juice, only use fresh for a better zip essential for this refreshing drink. For only $5, you can add an easy hand squeezer to your bar set-up.
If you don’t already have a bottle of Orange Bitters in your bar set-up, they are essential. Opt for the classic brand Angostura for a reliable, affordable bitter.
“Don’t Call Me Phil” Collins
As the name suggests, this is a twist on the classic cocktail typically made with gin, lemon juice, and club soda (or soda water) served in a long glass. The sour Tom Collins is a light, refreshing drink that’s as drinkable as lemonade. This twist uses Apple Vodka and Dimmi Liquor instead which gives it a more floral approach to citrus.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Dimmi is an Italian Liquore de Milano from Italy. It’s made from winter wheat. It’s similar to classic vermouth but with flavors of apricot and peach flower blossoms that produce a lighter aroma. Overall, this concoction adds citrus and spice to the drink.
For the Apple Vodka, look for a vodka that is made with apples rather than flavored with them if you can. This produces a higher-quality vodka with a more natural flavor of apples. Try to find Pennings Farm Cidery vodka or Upstate Vodka by Sauvage Distillery for an apple-made vodka. Otherwise, opt for high-end apple-flavored vodka.
If you often order grapefruity Palomas or Tom Collins, try this recipe instead.
-1.5 ounces Apple Vodka
-Half ounce Dimmi Liquor
-3 ounces fresh lemon juice
-dash grapefruit bitters
Combine all ingredients with ice cubes in a cocktail shake. Shake well.
Serve in a highball glass. Garnish with a citrus twist from lemon or grapefruit which is both gorgeous and increases the initial scent of the drink. Include a straw for the highball, tall glass.
The grapefruit bitters in this drink kick up the flavor of citrus. Don’t skip it. Grab the Fee Brothers’ grapefruit bitters.
Like the Backstreet Batida, don’t use bottled lemon juice. Take the extra time to fresh juice your lemon with a hand squeezer for better flavor. The fresh ingredients and citrus flavors make this an ideal drink for a hot day.
If you really wanted to, you can translate this recipe into a fizz or spritz version by adding some bubbly. This is ideal if you’re usually ordering an Aperol spritz or Gin Fizz. Rather than the orange of Aperol, this cocktail tastes more floral fruits like grapefruit juice and apricot.
I know it’s hard to set aside the Triple Sec and your favorite margarita recipe, but there are more liqueurs and recipes out there to try. For the best summer cocktails, try these two.
Complement your cocktails with small-plate appetizers from Cindy’s second cookbook dedicated to small dishes with big impact: Big Small Plates. The book includes 150 different recipes from her two restaurants and her own secret recipes. Their flavors have the same Californian flavors as her cocktails. Serve a selection alongside these easy cocktails for a summertime brunch.
To explore other big names in the Napa Valley cooking scene, keep reading. The above content may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Finer Things earns from qualifying purchases. When you click and shop, we receive a small commission to support our writers.