Entertaining, Summer

The Craft of the Cocktail: Entertaining Guests in the Summertime

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Slim Aarons Kaufman Desert House

Cocktails, much like fashion, are ever evolving, pulling from the past and reinventing themselves for the present. As with fashion and decor, there are trends and there are the classics that never fall from grace. We can always rely on the elegance and sophistication of the Martini, Gin & Tonic, Bellini and the Margarita.

Today’s cocktails, while greatly influenced by their stylish predecessors, often incorporate an element of surprise, utilizing the familiar and sometimes forgotten, infusing them with new ingredients. Liqueurs such as Lillet and Agnostura are enjoying a new found popularity and  St. Germain, a relative newcomer (though elderflower liqueur has widely been used in Europe for years) seems to be the darling of them all.


Cocktails are now sophisticated, creative works of art designed by mixologists adept at selecting herbs, spices and flavors one might not typically consider. Cocktails have indeed become an art form, a craft. The Mixologist is the Chef of the drink – constantly infusing new flavors and aromas, spices, liquid smokes and even seasonal fruits and vegetables to create beverages that have many layers of flavors.

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Now that the summer season has officially started, our doors have swung open; many are often revolving for friends and family to stop by and pay a visit, be it for an hour, a day or a week. To summer and to friends we shall make many toasts this season, and as we do let’s do something special – let’s step away from the Sancerre, the rosé and the Champagne. Let’s greet and wow our guests with something sophisticated, celebratory and different.

my paradissi lounging by the pool

Below are some recipes I have curated that I am sure you will have fun with, including two from Newport’s iconic Castle Hill Inn and one from Newport’s Premier Mixologist, Jason Kindness. Some of the recipes are quite simple, others require a few more steps. We hope to inspire your creativity and tempt you to try your hand at some of these the next time you entertain.


Pretty Girl From Puebla
Courtesy of Jason Kindness, The Kind Spirits

2½  oz. Lunazul Tequila
¾ oz. Pamplemousse Rose
½ oz. St. Germain
1½ oz. fresh lime
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Tablespoon  Chopped Cilantro (including one leaf for garnish)

1. In a mixing glass with ice, stir together 2½ ounces Tequila, ¾ ounce Pamplemousse Rose, ½ oz. St. Germain, 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and 1½ ounces fresh lime (squeeze when adding).
2. Shake and strain into martini glass.
3. Garnish with a cilantro leaf.

Blood Orange Bellini
Courtesy of Castle Hill Inn

 4½ oz. Domaine Ste. Michelle
1 oz. Blood Orange Puree

 2 Blood Orange Slices

1. Pour 1 ounce puree into champagne flute.
2. Fill with Domaine Ste. Michelle
3. Garnish with blood orange slice.

Castle Hill Inn Blueberry Lemonade

Blueberry Lemonade
Courtesy of Castle Hill Inn

1½ oz. Stoli Blueberry
1 oz. Blueberry Puree
Lemonade To Fill
Lemon wedge
Blueberry Puree
Fresh Whole Blueberries 4 ½ Pint Containers
6 oz. St. Germain
3 oz. Lemon Juice

1. Fill a collins glass with ice.
2. Pour in blueberry puree and vodka.
3. Top with lemonade, stir lightly.

Bobby Flay’s Cucumber Cilantro Margaritas
(Makes 2 drinks)BF_cucumber-cilantro-margarita_s4x3.jpg.rend.sniipadlarge

5 oz. silver tequila
4 oz. triple sec
6 Cucumber Slices

¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup sugar
2 lime wedges
Coarse salt

1. Muddle cucumber and place with sugar cilantro, sugar, lime, tequila and triple sec in a shaker.
2. Fill shaker with ice and shake well.
3. Dip the rim of two glass in coarse salt and pour mixture into the two glasses.

Recipe Courtesy of Bon Appetit
(Serves 1)

¼ cup mescal or tequila
¼ cup club soda
¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

1 grapefruit wedge
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim of a highball glass with grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt.
2. Combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sugar in glass; stir until sugar is dissolved.
3. Stir in mescal, add ice, and top off with club soda.
4. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.

The Vesper
Courtesy of Food & Wine

Inspired by 007 himself, the original version of this beverage packed a powerful punch. As he told the bartender in Casino Royale, “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet,” But the folks at Food & Wine have simplified the proportions to create a drink that highlights the freshness of Lillet and packs a little less punch so you’re not passed out after just one!

1 oz. Lillet
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Vodka
Dash of Orange Bitters
1 Lemon

1. In a mixing glass with ice, stir together an ounce of Lillet, an ounce of gin , and an ounce of vodka, with a dash of orange bitters.
2. When we say “stir,” that means good and long — 30-60 stirs — not just a quick swirl with your spoon. You really want to chill this guy down.
3. Strain into a martini glass.
4. Garnish with a lemon peel, giving it a good twist before you add it to the glass in order to spray those citrus oils on top.

St. Germain Cucumber Cooler
Courtesy of Food & Wine
Light drinks don’t necessarily have to be sweet or fruity, as this cucumber-mint cocktail
proves. Vodka and lime form the backbone, while the St-Germain adds a delightful floral element.

1 oz. St. Germain
1½ oz. Vodka
1 oz. Lime Juice
Club Soda
3 Cucumber Slices
Mint Leaves

1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle three cucumber slices.
2. Add five to eight fresh mint leaves, an ounce of lime juice, an ounce of St. Germain and an ounce and a half of vodka.
3. Add ice, shake like crazy, and strain into a tall glass over fresh ice.
4. Add a splash (about an ounce) of club soda on top.
5. Garnish with more cucumber and mint.

Garden Party
Courtesy of Food & Wine

Refreshing on a summer’s day, Gin and Aperol partner perfectly, their layered herbal elements balance each other out; lemon is a natural partner. A little basil keeps this drink fresh for warmer weather—and Prosecco takes it into irresistible territory. I like to think
of this as the little black dress of the cocktail. Ever so simple, ever so elegant. 

This drink requires a technique called double-straining. Whenever you use a cocktail shaker, you strain the contents into a glass, additionally this, and other drinks, require additional straining , bits or seeds in the cocktail or here, basil. We suggest
using a  fine-mesh strainer. aperol-cocktail

1½ oz. Gin
1½ oz. Aperol
½ oz. Prosecco
¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ oz. Simple Syrup
Fresh Basil Leaves

1. Add 1½ ounces of gin , 1½ ounces of Aperol, ¾ of an ounce of fresh lemon juice and ¼ ounce of simple syrup (that’s equal parts sugar dissolved in water) to a cocktail shaker with ice.
2. Add five fresh basil leaves. Shake that all up; the basil will break up and flavor the rest of the cocktail.
3. Double-strain it into a glass and top with about ½ ounce of Prosecco.
4. Garnish with a basil sprig.

Peach Mule
A twist on the Classic Moscow Mule courtesy of A House in the Hills

1 oz. vodkapeach_ginger_mule_a_house_in_the_hills_1
½ oz. peach schnapps
½ oz. Grand Marnier
½ ripe peach
½ juicy lime
(1) 12 oz. can of ginger beer

1. In a large cocktail shaker muddle, 4 to 5 lime wedges, ½ of a diced ripe peach and peach schnapps.
2. Muddle until peaches are completely

3. Add a handful of crushed ice and 1 ounce vodka to shaker.
4. Swirl ingredients for approximately 5 seconds.
5. Pour out contents of shaker into glass.
6. Add ice to fill.

7. Fill remainder of glass with ginger beer leaving a little bit of room. (this amount will vary with glass size).
8. Top with ½ ounces of Grand Marnier.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 8.44.30 AM

Agave Nero
Courtesy of Food & Wine
(Makes 1 drink)

For those who like but want an alternative to the classic Margarita.

3 Blackberries

1 lime wedge
1 cup ice
1½ oz. reposado tequila
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Chambord
1 oz. chilled club soda

1. Skewer one blackberry and the lime wheel on a pick.
2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the remaining 2 blackberries.
3. Add the ice, tequila, lime juice, Simple Syrup and Chambord. Shake well and pour into a rocks glass.
4. Stir in the club soda.
5. Garnish with the skewered blackberry and lime wheel.

And remember, “shaken, not stirred.”


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7 thoughts on “The Craft of the Cocktail: Entertaining Guests in the Summertime

  1. Dearest Bettie, I am so very excited about seeing you in Newport. Love, Elsie

    1. This weekend is the perfect time to start! Happy 4th of July, Bettie

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