Summer Sippin'

Berry Pom-A-RitaThe memorial day holiday is just behind us, a holiday weekend that we regard as the "unofficial start of summer" and a time when many families and friends get together in backyards and on patios around the country to barbecue and entertain. For many, part of the entertaining ritual is cocktails - mixing up a tall pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea or blending some frozen daiquiris to take the heat out of the day.
     Although beginning in the 1980s, cocktails began to take a back seat to the rise in popularity of micro-brews and wines, serving up cocktails is popular once again, thanks in part to the popular HBO series Sex and the City and the characters' penchant for the Cosmopolitan, or "Cosmo," as it popularly came to be called. Since then, a new generation is sampling the old favorites and creating modern twists on old standards, such as taking the traditional Vodka Martini, substituting Calvados or green apple schnapps to create the Appletini.
Wild Hibiscus Flowers    Fruity, frozen and "muddled" drinks are especially popular in summer: frozen daiquiris, margaritas, mojitos. They are cool, icy and refreshing. Wine aficionados are not left out of the mix; there are even frozen wine cocktails, including versions of the Bellini, a sparkling wine cocktail invented by Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry's Bar, the popular haunt in Venice, Italy.
     But mixing up certain cocktails takes a bit of know-how: knowing the right proportions of the different ingredients, the right garnishes to add, and even the proper glass to serve it in. While garnishes and glasses are the icing on the cocktail, so to speak, getting the recipe right is key and can sometimes take a little practice. But nowadays, new gourmet drink mixes take away much of the and make it easier for the home bartender to concoct many of today's more exotic offerings; some even offer alcohol-free variations so that teetotalers are not left out of the enjoyment.

     From the exotic to the classic, cocktails are a perfect way to get a party started. Mixes make tending the bar easier. Host a sampling in your store to introduce the idea of cocktail mixes to your customer base and to show them how easy they can be. Merchandise them with cocktail shakers, bar tools and a variety of appropriate beverageware. And don't forget to include cocktail snacks to suggest add-on sales.

Gourmet Wine Slush mix comes in a 12-oz. can. Just add wine, or ginger ale for a non-alcoholic treat. $7.95. McSteven's. 800.547.2803.

 Gourmet Wine Slush
 Peach Bellini

Peach Bellini Vino Freeze Mix is a celebration or brunch favorite. One of many easy mix gift offerings. $10. Old World Gourmet. 877.466.8889.

Modern Highballs mixers in a ready-to- go variety gift pack or in pitchersized pouches. The Modern Cocktail. 949.250.8951.

 Modern Highballs
 The Cocktail Primer

The Cocktail Primer is by master mixologist Eben Klemm. Includes recipes, techniques and tools. $19.99. Andrews McMeel. 800.851.8923.

101 Mojitos & Other Muddled Drinks by Kim Haasarud features recipes and tweaks on classic summer drinks. $16.95. J. Wiley and Sons. 800.225.5945.

 101 Mojitos & Other Muddled Drinks
 Recipe tumblers

Recipe tumblers and cocktail shaker are double-wall insulated. Lifetime guarantee. 16- and 24-oz sizes. 16- oz, $15; cocktail shaker, $20. Tervis. 866.392.1964. CIRCLE #942 

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