LIGHTEN UP

The Cocktails You’ll Drink This Spring

With the sun out, and people daring to wear shirts with no heavy jackets, it is the perfect time for a Paloma, Highball, or Spritz.

Spring’s longer days, warmer temperatures and bright sunshine mean one thing to me: It’s officially cocktail weather.

And to pair with the change in seasons (and wardrobe) you need a new refreshing favorite drink.

While certainly no one would blame you for fixing warming and whiskey-centric Manhattans and Sazeracs, this time of year I crave elixirs that feature big ice cubes, tropical fruit, and fizzy water or bubbly wine.

Fortunately, there’s a range of classic concoctions that include most of these ingredients and are perfect for these unseasonably hot afternoons.

THE PALOMA—THE UNSUNG HERO

While the Margarita is the most famous tequila cocktail, the paloma, which also features the agave spirit, has toiled far too long in mixological obscurity. The quaffable combination of tequila (or mezcal if you prefer a slightly smokier tipple), grapefruit soda, a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt is exactly what you need for a day spent out in the sun. The great thing about the paloma is that you can easily regulate its strength by adding more or less tequila and soda.

Paloma

Ingredients:

1.5 oz TequilaJuice of half a limeGrapefruit sodaPinch salt

Glass:Tom Collins

Directions:

Fill a Tom Collins glass with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice and salt and top with the grapefruit soda.

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BEAST TWIST:

For an extra-citrusy version, use equal parts fresh grapefruit juice and seltzer instead of the sweeter grapefruit soda.

HIGHBALL—THE CLASSIC

If you insist on drinking whiskey in the summer, there are plenty of satisfying ways to do it. One of my favorites is the easiest: the highball. The ridiculously simple mix of whiskey and seltzer or ginger ale is also ridiculously drinkable. To paraphrase Tom Waits the drink is currently big in Japan and was huge in the States during the 1950s and ’60s.

While I might not use my rarest and most treasured Scotch or bourbon for a highball, adding ice or soda can turn a sipping whiskey into a summer refresher.

Highball

Ingredients:

2 oz WhiskeyClub soda or ginger ale

Glass:Highball

Directions:

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the whiskey and top with soda.

BEAST TWIST:

To make sure you get plenty of whiskey flavor use a spirit that is high proof (above 80-proof) and with plenty of character like rye or a big peaty single malt. Large ice cubes that will melt more slowly in the sun are a must.

Also, try spicy ginger beer instead of sugary ginger ale and use small bottles of soda to ensure you get plenty of effervescence.

SPRITZ—AN INTERNATIONAL STANDARD

The spritz has been cooling down Europeans for decades. Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, authors of the recently published Spritz: Italy’s most iconic aperitivo cocktail, with recipes, have even found evidence that Romans and Greeks were drinking some version of it.

But really during the last century the low-alcohol concoction has become an international sensation. “Today, the spritz archetype is more or less a combination of three parts prosecco, two parts bitter liqueur, and one part soda,” write Baiocchi and Pariseau. “And thanks to Aperol, it’s now Italy’s most popular cocktail.”

That basic formula can be used to fix many different delicious combinations and permutations. Start with the Venetian Spritz, which follows this recipe and once you’ve mastered that you can start experimenting.

Venetian Spritz

Contributed by Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau

Ingredients:

2 oz Aperol3 to 4 oz Prosecco2 oz Soda waterGarnish: Olive and a slice of citrus

Glass:Rocks or wine glass

Directions:

Fill a rocks or wine glass with ice and then add the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with an olive and a slice of citrus.

BEAST TWIST:

If you find Aperol too sweet, Baiocchi and Pariseau suggest using a mix of equal parts Aperol and the more bitter Campari.