It is that time of the year when our region is ablaze with endless sunlight to warm and brighten our day. In the South we forgive our hot summers, as they give us even greater chances to do what we do best: engage in our enviable hospitality.
So, take out your sunscreen, wear your fancy garden hats, and get ready to enjoy some of the most deliciously refreshing drink recipes for this hot weather. Keep in mind that some of these libations are alcoholic, and some are not.
#1 Mint Julep
This true Southern staple is more than a cliché. It actually has a colorful political and linguistic history that dates back to the 18th century. The word “julep” is an amalgamation of Spanish, Persian, and Arabic that translates into the word “rosewater.” The implication of this is that the original purpose of the drink was medicinal, more so than epicurean. As early as 1784, the mint julep appeared in apothecaries everywhere listed as a medicine to soothe the stomach.
Its social history is interesting as well. It was traditionally served with ice and in an iced silver cup. Access to either of those items was exclusive to upper class families who possessed an icehouse, and with servants trustworthy enough to access the ice, the silver, and the whisky that is fused into the drink. Senator Henry Clay is said to have been the first to introduce this to the menu in D.C.
All this history makes you thirsty, doesn’t it? Let’s get to the recipe already.
- 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar
- 2 oz of Bourbon whiskey
- 2 teaspoons of water
- 4 mint leaves
In a highball glass, muddle the mint leaves with sugar and water. Then, fill the glass with ice, and infuse the Bourbon. Stir and let the glass frost. Add more mint to garnish if you so wish.
#2 Southern Sweet Tea
Not to be confused with “iced tea,” the biggest difference between the sweetened cold tea from the North versus the South is heat.
The Northern tea is boiled, then sweetened, and then cooled.
The Southern sweet tea is boiled and sweetened together. The sugar has to be a part of the process. Then you take the drink out, and then you cool it and serve it. It does make a difference in taste, as the more the sugar seeps with the tea, the more combined they become. This being said, here is how to do it.
- Two cups of water
- 6 tea bags
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 1 shake of baking soda (optional)
Boil all the ingredients together, until the tea darkens in color. Let it all seep to taste.
When finished, add 6 cups of cold water to the mix, and continue to taste.
Cool and serve with ice and lemon.
#3 Homemade Southern Orange Soda
A classic from the diner, this recipe was featured in Southern Living magazine and has taken the world by storm. This is the perfect combination of fruity, tart, and sweet. The colors are very vivid. The filled glasses make more than just great drinks, but also amazing complements to the summer garden table. Make sure you have ice handy, tall glasses, and straws. This is one to enjoy slowly, even though it is not an alcoholic drink. Want to spike it up? Use vodka, gin or bourbon….in moderation, of course!
- Take one can of frozen orange juice, pulp free. Thaw it. Make sure it is undiluted.
- Get two bottles of 2-liters each of lemon lime soda, regular or diet.
- 1 or 2 oranges, sliced.
Stir the orange juice and mix with the lime drink. Do it slowly so that one does not overpower the other. Pour it on individual, tall glasses and serve with ice. Drop in the orange slices, or use for garnish as disks.
#4 New Orleans Sazerac
It is said that, in 1850, the Merchants Exchange Coffee House in New Orleans was sold to one Aaron Bird, who re-named it The Sazerac House. One of the products he sold as an entrepreneur was the Sazerac-de- Forge-et Fils cognac. He mixed his own drink with bitters from a local apothecary and created the Sazerac cocktail. It is said through the grapevine that it was the pharmacist, Peychaud, who really came up with the recipe. Leave it to us Southerners to cook up some drama tea.
You will need:
- ¼ ounce of simple syrup
- 2 oz of rye whiskey
- 6 Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash of Angostura bitters
- ** The original recipe asks for a dash of Absinthe.
In one rock glass, put ice and absinthe while, in another glass, you will combine the recipe above. Dump the absinthe from one glass onto the other, strain the drink, and pour it all back again on glass number 1. Lots of work with this one.
#5 The Alabama Slammer
Developed in the 1970’s, the Slammer became famous thanks to Tom Cruise’s movie Cocktail. However, the drink itself was first made in an infamous hole in the wall college joint named Harry’s Bar. Today, Harry’s Bar is still up and running, and has a cult following of its own.
This one is simple:
- 2 shots of vodka
- 2 shots of Southern Comfort
- 2 shots of sloe gin
- 1 shot of Amaretto
Add orange or fruit juice and serve in a Collins glass with ice. Enjoy your summer responsibly, and keep on soaking up the beautiful Southern sun.