25 Jan // the summer of mixed drinks

We're currently in the sweaty throes of a tropical Auckland summer, and the post-lunchbreak pink tinge is thankfully eased with air conditioning. It's shaping up to be a glorious week ahead, and lucky for us up here we've got a three day weekend to enjoy it over. With sunshine inevitably comes basking and drinking, and this summer I've embraced old drinks as well as tried new ones.

Beers are always a good option, and it appears that cider is too, given the saturation of variants currently available. Pear, berry, dry, sweet; it's usually the first couple in the sun that go down well before you have to move on to something else. I've had some crisp whites and some blushing nighttime reds, and I was in absolute heaven on new year's day, which was spent with a bunch of mates on the manicured lawn of Mission Estate in Hawke's Bay. We drank them out of their delicious rosé, which was the best way to see in 2013. 

It's shaping up to be a goody, and in the meantime here's a few tasty beverages I've been enjoying lately.

the pink g & t

I served this as an aperitif at my December dinner party, and it's become a firm favourite since. It's reminiscent of a negroni, one of my favourites, but is slightly sweeter, and with less kick-you-in-the-face strength. Aperol is something I've only recently discovered, and it's similar to Campari, but not as strong. A couple of these at the beginning of an evening will set you up very nicely indeed.

  • 1 shot Aperol
  • 1 shot Tanqueray gin
  • a cross section, circular slice of orange
  • Quina Fina tonic
  • Ice

Put ice and orange slice in your glass, add the booze and then top with a little tonic. 

the bloody mary

If you haven't seen me harping on about it on other social media forums yet (twitter and facebook for example), or seen me enthusiastically tell you about it in person, you might not know that I'm thrilled to have a new monthly column in Metro magazine called 'searching for perfect'. Each month I'll be looking at a drink or dish around town, and writing up my experience, along with a recipe. December's quest was for the perfect Bloody Mary, and I had some boomers around the city. I love this traditionally layered cocktail, especially with brunch. And whilst the key attributes are vodka, tomato juice, and plenty of tabasco, my full recipe is available in the latest issue. The magazine has all sorts of other excellent Summer reading in it, including reviews and columns by three of my favourite food writers. Get into it. 

the boysenberry smash

One of the best things about Hawke's Bay in the summertime is the abundance of amazing fruit. In Napier we stopped on the side of the road and on the 31st of December I made what I declared my 'best purchase of 2012' when I handed over $10 for a kilo of fresh, plump, juicy boysenberries. Into everyone's drinks they were smooshed as we saw out 2012 - great with bubbly and the shining star to my new year's cocktail. We, in a harkback to the glory days of the sixth form, bought vodka to see in the new year, and this fruity drink was a hit.

  • Double shot vodka
  • Fresh mint, roughly torn
  • Fresh boysenberries
  • Wedge of lime
  • Soda and ice

Put ice, mint, berries, and lime in a glass. Muddle slightly, or just stir together. Top with soda. 

Note: you can sub out the soda for ginger beer, which is basically the same as the raspberry ginger fizz, below.

the summer Pimms jug

One of my favourite friends was back from London briefly, and I was lucky enough to get in some quality time with her, whilst testing out my new maxi dress, at a barbecue she hosted on Sunday. Initially I planned on wholeheartedly embracing the sabbath day and resting my liver, but alas, Shannon had made Pimms jugs and that idea went out the window. It took me back to not only the time I first tried it at Wimbeldon, alongside strawberries and cream and plenty of tennis, but also of the time my friend Harriet donned a wedding dress, and I became Princess Kate, for our Royal Wedding party. One beweddingdressed  guest ended up eating our orange garnish seductively in the corner, but before things descended into the completely debaucherous, Harriet and I drank a bottle of Pimms. Naturally.

Into a jug: plenty of ice, plenty of Pimms, some freshly chopped strawberries, slices of orange, some stalks of fresh mint, and ginger ale. 

the raspberry ginger fizz

I've blogged about this one before, but it is just always such a hit. Fresh raspberries, if they ever reduce in price, are just so good in this fruity number, but frozen are a good out-of-season substitute. It's based on a Jamie Oliver recipe from an old Delicious magazine, and it's become a summer staple of mine, especially if wanting to impress visitors or friends. This year for our work Christmas shindig we had a pizza picnic in Albert Park. There was swing ball, and Toto's pizza by the metre (incredible), and these cocktails. Add a party straw and you have yourself a party. Perfect. 

Ice, fresh mint, a lime wedge, fresh raspberries, Vodka (absolut raspberry works well if you've got some) into a vessel: top with ginger beer.

Long may the balmy evenings and the summer of delicious drinks continue.