With the weather warming up now, I've found myself craving simple "patio" drinks. Something fizzy - and not too fussy - that can be stirred with ice right in the glass. Here are five of my favorite warm-weather classics, each made from just three basic ingredients (a soda, a spirit, and some citrus). What are some of yours?
• 1. Gin and Tonic
Gin, Tonic Water, Lime (full recipe - plus a little history - here)
A perfectly seamless blend of crisp, junipery gin and thirst-quenchingly zesty tonic water, it's no wonder the Gin and Tonic is one of the most perennially popular patio drinks. For a deluxe version, consider using a premium brand of tonic, such as Q or Fever Tree.
• 2. Dark and Stormy
Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, Lime (full recipe here)
The national drink of Bermuda can be enjoyed just about anywhere. But if you want a truly authentic taste, try using Gosling's Black Seal rum and Barritts ginger beer. Both brands are local to Bermuda and purists swear by them. (In fact, many will say that a drink made any other way is not a Dark and Stormy.) But authentic or not, any good-quality dark rum and any spicy, zippy ginger beer will make for a very tasty drink.
• 3. Campari and Soda (not pictured)
Sparkling Water, Campari, Lemon
For a deliciously refreshing cooler, just add a few ounces of sparkling water and a slice of lemon (or lime or orange if you prefer) to a shot of Campari. Light, bright, and refreshingly bitter and bracing, the grapefruity flavor of this bright red aperitif takes center stage in this sophisticated highball.
• 4. Moscow Mule
Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime (recipe here)
Equal parts vodka and lime juice with a healthy pour of spicy ginger beer (or, in some recipe variations, ginger ale) added in, this thirst-quenching classic got its start back sometime in the 1940s. Often served in a distinctive copper mug, it tastes just as good in a tall glass.
• 5. Cuba Libre
Rum, Cola, Lime
Add a little lime and the plain old American "Rum and Coke" becomes a much more romantic-sounding "Cuba Libre." A fascinating history of the drink - with recipe variations - ran in the Washington Post this week.
What kind of drinks are you craving this spring?
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC's Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
(Images: Nora Maynard)