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8 Sophisticated, Cool Cocktails

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Summer Sangria. Artwork by Patricia Van Essche

Just in time for the final fling of summer – Labor Day Weekend – a collection of 8 intriguing and sophisticated cocktails. Dare I say inspiration first came from the  Fortnum & Mason Champagne popsicles?

And who better to offer up the goods than my friend and bon vivant Jessica Gordon Ryan, whose “handle” is GimletStyle on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. You may also know her from her website, The Entertaining House, which is dedicated to luxury, simplicity, art, fashion, food and decor.

Did I also mention that we share an affection for champagne?!

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As Bettie mentioned, it started innocently enough with an image of some frozen Champagne sticks from Fortnum & Mason. We fell in love with this clever idea which she then shared on Instagram. While we knew, sadly, that these sweet treats can’t be shipped to us from across the pond, one of her followers kindly shared the recipe found on the Fortnum & Mason website. And with this, a piece on sophisticated summer cocktails to enjoy was born.

While the calendar may tell us that summer is over, the temperatures certainly do not. As the Labor Day Weekend approaches and we prepare to open up our homes to friends and family for one last summer hurrah, I’d like to offer up some fun and refreshing suggestions from some top tastemakers and dear friends that are sure to impress.

FORTNUM & MASON’S CHAMPAGNE POPSICLES

According to the website you only need three ingredients to make Champagne Popsicles at home – a bottle of Blanc de Blancs Champagne, 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar. You will also need popsicle molds or cups to freeze the Champagne mixture in. 

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar so that it completely dissolves.
Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to whisk the liquid, until it turns into a simple syrup. This happens quickly so don’t leave it longer than 5 minutes on simmer. Set the mixture aside to cool down.

Add the Champagne to the syrup and whisk it all together.
Pour the liquid into cups and place in the freezer overnight.
It’s that easy!

Image courtesy Danielle Rollins.

PROSECCO POPS

As I thought of recipes for this article, Danielle Rollins’ gorgeous and delicious Prosecco popsicles came to mind. So I reached out to her to ask her if she would share her recipe with you and naturally, as gracious as she is, she was more than happy to do so.
Danielle Rollins is the author of Soiree, Entertaining with Style. She is known for mixing a dash of glamour with an approachable flair, and sets the standard for Gracious Living and Stylish Entertaining™. Channeling the style of Grace Kelly, the wit of Lucille Ball, and the decorating and entertaining approach of Dorothy Draper (mixed with a little fantasy from the ever-imaginative, flamboyant Elsie de Wolfe), she inspires and encourages others to celebrate any and every opportunity to create a memory. She shares with us two perfect, elegant antidotes to the hot summer sun.

 STRAWBERRY-BASIL ICE POPS WITH PROSECCO

Ingredients:
¾ to 1 cup packed brown sugar
(depending on sweetness of berries)
4 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stems removed
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 ice pop molds and sticks

Directions:
Combine 2 cups water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a
boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook until sugar dissolves into a simple syrup. Remove
from heat and let cool.

In a blender, combine 2 cups strawberries with basil leaves and 1 tablespoon lemon juice;
pulse until blended. Set aside. Repeat with remaining strawberries, basil, and lemon juice.
Divide simple syrup evenly among batches.
Pour into ice pop molds and freeze at least 6 hours (ice pops will keep in freezer up to 2
weeks).

Place ice pop upside down in a wineglass and pour Prosecco over. Serve immediately.

PEACH-MINT ICE POPS WITH PROSECCO

Ingredients:
6 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4 tablespoons finely chopped mint
½ to ¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon ground Vietnamese cinnamon (optional)
Place peaches, lime juice, 2 tablespoons mint, sugar, and cinnamon (if using) in a blender
and blend to combine. Taste and add more lime juice or sugar. Stir in remaining mint.
Pour into ice pop molds and freeze at least 6 hours (ice pops will keep in freezer up to 2
weeks).

Place ice pop upside down in a wineglass and pour Prosecco over. Serve immediately.

THE CLASSIC PIMM’S CUP

To many the Pimm’s Cup is the quintessential summer beverage, enjoyed courtside, poolside and in the garden. Carla McDonald, founder of The Salonniere, the first and only information source dedicated entirely and exclusively to the art of party hosting.’ Shares the recipe with us. “My favorite end-of-summer cocktail is the Classic Pimm’s Cup since I’m a gin drinker (Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liqueur) and it’s an easy and delicious way to celebrate the fruits of the season. There are myriad ways to make and garnish a Pimm’s Cup, but I’m a purist. I like it the simple, classic way with muddled fruit, ginger ale, and a cucumber and mint garnish.”

Carla has hosted and attended hundreds of high-profile parties ranging from dinners for celebrities and elaborate galas to events at the White House and internationals balls. She has been featured in and on media outlets including Town & Country, Women’s Wear Daily, Veranda, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, where she is a contributor, CNN, NBC’s “Today” and “Entertainment Tonight.” Come on in and join the fun.  As Carla likes to say when a party idea strikes, “I feel a party coming on.”

Ingredients:
2 ounces of Pimm’s No. 1
Ginger ale (or ginger beer if you prefer a bit more spice)
Slices of orange, lemon and lime for muddling
A cucumber wheel and mint sprig for garnish

Directions:
Gently muddle the orange, lemon and lime slices in a chilled highball glass. Add the Pimm’s No. 1 and ginger ale or ginger beer and stir to combine the ingredients. Add ice to fill the glass and garnish with the cucumber and mint.

St. Germain cocktail. Photo credit John Cain Sargent for Monograms for the Home by Kimberly Schlegel Whitman

ST. GERMAIN COCKTAIL 

 I reached out to lifestyle expert Kimberly Schlegel Whitman to see if she had a favorite drink this summer, to which she replied the St. Germain Cocktail. “Yum!  It is so easy that it is hardly a recipe!”
For those who are unfamiliar with this fairly new liqueur,  it can best be described as bright and fragrant. The liqueur is made from elderflowers that are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four- to-six-week period in spring  in the spring and summer.  In Europe, the flower is used in many foods and drinks, but in the U.S. it’s gaining popularity in the form of this liqueur.

With a talent for making the ordinary extraordinary Kimberly Schlegel Whitman has taken her original and clever take on parties and created an entrepreneurial empire. While planning her own Idlewild Debutante Ball in Dallas, Texas, Kimberly found an undiscovered opportunity—a lack of quality goods for party rentals. In 1998, a quick thinking Kimberly launched her own event company, RSVP Soiree Luxury Event Rentals, and, after building up a wonderful business, sold it in 2006. She also took the century old RSVP Social Calendar online in 1999 and continues to maintain this comprehensive list of Dallas’ finest charitable events at www.RSVPcalendar.com. Kimberly’s success in this field led to the publication of six books on entertaining, countless television appearances, a daily radio segment on Dallas’ number one morning show and a spot as co-host of KTXD’s live daily television talk show, Texas Living.  In 2011, she became the Editor-at-Large of Southern Living Magazine, the seventh-largest monthly paid consumer magazine in the nation. Her most recent book, Monograms for the Home, is due out this month.

Ingredients:
2 oz of champagne
1.5 oz of st. Germain
 Directions:
Stir together over ice and top it with Club Soda
Garnish with a twist of lemon

THE SOUTHSIDE

 I first met Ridgely Brode at lunch at Bergdorf Goodman’s a few years ago where I learned that our paths crossed not only in Connecticut, but also in Newport. I just knew that this style maven and blogger would have a cocktail recipe to share. This simple gin-based recipe is a perfect summer refresher.
Recipe:
Serves 6 in Old Fashioned (Lowball) glasses
Ingredients:
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (juice of about 2 lemons)
1/2 Cup Fresh Lime Juice (juice of about 4 limes)
Melt sugar in water in a small saucepan on stove to making sugar syrup, cool to room temperature.
Juice lemons and limes. Combine syrup and juices, refrigerate.
12 oz of either light or dark Rum, vodka or gin (we chose light rum)
12 Sprigs fresh mint
Slices of fresh lime for garnish and mixing
Ice
Club Soda
6 Old Fashioned glasses
Directions:
1. Makes 3 servings: combine 1 cup Sweet and Sour mix, 6 oz liquor, 3 sprigs mint , 3 slices of lime and ice in Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker. Shake well.
2. Fill 3 glasses with ice. Pour cocktail mixture 3/4 the way up in the glass, top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint and lime slice. Repeat for remaining 2 glasses.
3. Make second 3 servings: Fill the Mason Jar with remaining cup of sweet sour mix, 6 oz liquor, more ice and mint, limes to taste. Fill glasses as above.
Cheers!
Ridgely Brode is the co-founder of Paul Wilmot Communications in New York City. When not at work she’s either reading or working on her own fantastic blog, Ridgely’s Radar.

 THE PALOMA

 According to our friends at ElleDecor, the Paloma is one of 7 classic cocktails that every sophisticated woman should know. It’s ingredients are simple – so simple – and this may well be one of the summer’s most refreshing beverages.
Ingredients:
Serves 1
Kosher salt
1 grapefruit wedge
¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup mescal or tequila
¼ cup club soda
Directions:
Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim of a highball glass with grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt. Combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sugar in glass; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in mescal, add ice, and top off with club soda. Garnish with grapefruit wedge. (Recipe via Bon Appetit)

COUPE DE CHAMPAGNE

I was fortunate to have been able to have spent my childhood summers in the South of France. My grandmother had a magnificent home in Cannes, in the hills overlooking the Cote d’Azur. I remember the lavish parties she threw with the most magnificent table settings. She had a signature beverage which she referred to as the Coupe de Champagne. It was so simple and so elegant. I served it at my wedding years later, and still continue to serve it on special occasions. I always equate this with summer. Though Champagne-based, we now have many wonderful proseccos and cavas that can also be substituted. I’ve slightly adapted my grandmother’s recipe as her recipe had no measurements!  A votre santé!

Ingredients:
Serves 10
1 medium size apple (I use a sweet variety)- cut into ½” wedges
1 medium size red plum- cut into ½ “ wedges
3 large strawberries- quartered
1 small orange- sliced in ¼” rounds then slice into quarters
1 ½ cups Cointreau ( or Grand Mariner)
½ cup ice cubes
1 bottle of good quality Champagne

Directions:
Macerate the fruit in a large glass pitcher overnight in the refrigerator, make sure the fruit is completely submerged into the liquid. When you are ready to serve, pour 3 cups of Champagne on into the pitcher of the macerated fruit mixture and serve in champagne glasses.

Some fruit will go into the champagne glasses and some will remain in the pitcher. Refill the pitcher with champagne as long as fruit remains. Champagne will very quickly pick up the flavors of the fruit mixture.

Fruit mixture + 1 Bottle of Champagne (this includes refilling) = 10 glasses

Champagne. Image property of Maaike Bernstrom, Maaike Bernstrom Photography

MORE CHAMPAGNE, PEAS

 Recipe Courtesy of Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI.
Castle Hill Inn may very well be Newport’s most iconic cocktail destinations. The magnificent restaurant and hotel are part of the esteemed Chateau & Relais families. It is the Great Lawn with breathtaking views of the Narraganset Bay that draw locals and tourists alike.  One can’t possibly have really visited Newport without a stop at Castle Hill.  I’ll call this Champagne with an interesting twist.
Ingredients:
10 oz Vodka
4 oz Dry Vermouth
1 oz Fresh Mint
5 oz Frozen Peas
3 oz Simple Syrup
Zest from ½ a lemon
Directions:
Mix all ingredients into a sealable container and let sit, chilled, for 2 days or until the flavor is to your liking. In a shaker with ice, add 2 oz of the Pea & Mint vodka and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and add your preferred champagne. Makes about 8 drinks

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Cocktail Round-up. Please let us know if you decide to try your hand at these!

Note: The top image provided by artist Patricia Van Escche an accomplished artist and illustrator who has worked for numerous private commissions as well as with exclusive clients including J. McLaughlin, Sheridan Road magazine and Lava Barre. Her artwork has been featured in Town & Country. Patricia lives in Westchester County, New York.

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