With more sunshine, my end-of-day goal is to spend a few moments putzing in my garden. This means dinner consists of simple recipes, served with easy but delicious drinks, like smashes. These smashes make up a whole new world of cocktails with endless options for muddling, mixing, and of course sipping. This one is just perfect for today's 10-Minute Happy Hour.
In the world of cocktails, the smash is historically a drink that called for mint, a lump of sugar, ice, and the spirit of your choice. The Savoy Cocktail Book, originally printed in the 1930s, says "The smash is in effect a julep on a small plan."
Like the julep, smashes have come to include all sorts of fruit, and this one showcases sweet, ripe red strawberries. You can choose your spirit — rum, brandy, whiskey, and gin (my favorite!) all work. Add lemon, lime juice, or bitters to muddle with your sugar, or skip the sugar and top with a spritz. Basil and lemon balm, as well as the traditional mint, have made their way into smashes, too.
As I mentioned, this drink, like sangria, has gone slightly schizophrenic — but in a good way. The simplicity works with so many fruit and spirit combos.
Do you love smashes? What's your favorite?
Strawberry Gin Smash Cocktail
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 lime wedge
3 fresh strawberries, 2 hulled and sliced and 1 reserved for garnish
3 ounces gin
Fresh mint sprig, to garnish
In a tall glass, combine the sugar and a squeeze of juice from the lime wedge. Muddle with the back of a spoon to dissolve the sugar.
Add the sliced strawberries and lightly muddle.
Fill the glass with ice and add the gin. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with the last strawberry and a sprig of mint.
A Pitcher of Strawberry Gin Smash
2 tablespoons sugar
2 limes, juiced, about 4 tablespoons
1 pound fresh strawberries
2 cups gin
3 cups club soda
Fresh mint sprigs, to garnish
Muddle the sugar and limes in a pitcher that holds at least 8 cups (64 ounces). Set aside 6 to 8 small strawberries and make a small slice in their tips. Hull and slice the remaining strawberries and muddle the slices lightly with the sugar and lime juice.
Stir in the gin and club soda and pack the pitcher full of ice. Add mint sprigs to garnish. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with a strawberry, slotted onto the edge of the glass.
Make-Ahead Note: You can make this ahead; mix everything except the club soda and ice, then refrigerate overnight. A night in the fridge will also help the strawberries add more flavor and color to the drink.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)