When I moved to Florida, a friend warned me that there are only two seasons here: “Sweating Season” (March through October) and the far briefer “Maybe Bring A Hoodie Season” (November through February). It’s currently the first day of August, so we’re still in the humid steamy grip of Sweating Season. August is the realm of light drinks. Drinks with fruit. Drinks with vodka or rum or tequila. I am admittedly out of my element with such drinks, but with my trusty mason jar and muddler, maybe I can make this work…
A benefit of Sweating Season is the increased availability of fresh cherries, but these will need something a little spicy to balance them. With the alternating heavy rains and scorching sun, the only plant left standing in the herb garden right now is basil (the Rocky Balboa of the herb world), and luckily, it’s just the right amount of spice. You can start out any number of great cocktails by throwing basil and some sort of fresh fruit into a mason jar, adding just a splash of simple syrup and lemon juice, and gently muddling. (If you muddle vigorously, you’ll wind up with a very pulpy drink, so better to hold back a little and leave nice chunks of fruit.)
With muddling accomplished, it’s time to add spirits, and with the strong flavors here, the best bet is vodka. Vodka’s defining trait is its neutrality. It’s a spirit that hangs out toward the back of the stage and allows other flavors to shine. Toss in ice, shake, and now it’s time to top this thing. Ginger beer is a little too much spice, but luckily, I still have some Ale-8-One on hand after Jessi’s and my trip up to Wild Goose. While a ginger ale would certainly work, the Ale-8-One “ginger pop” is a fusion of ginger and citrus, bringing out the fruity notes of the drink while also enhancing the spice of the basil.
Ale-8 Summer Smash
2oz 3Howls vodka
5 cherries (I used Rainier cherries)
7 basil leaves
.25oz simple syrup
.25oz lemon juice
Muddle cherries, basil, syrup, and lemon juice. Add vodka and ice. Seal, shake, and reopen. Top with Ale-8-One or ginger ale and serve.
In general, fruit, carbonation, and a little bit of spice make amazing drinks for Sweating Season, so break out your mason jars, head for a shady spot, and enjoy coming up with your own recipes and variations.
So I’m making a slight change to the “Mixology Monday” and “Theology Thursday” formula. As fun as these posts have been, I feel like I’m not getting to enjoy the stuff I’m drinking lately. I land on a recipe I like, and then it’s already time to move on to the next drink. As such, I’m going to scale back to every other week so I can make sure I’m putting out quality recipes that I’ve had time to sit with and modify. Additionally, while mixology is my hobby, it’s not my #1 passion. The whole Bar Chaplain endeavor has always been about community, and we’ve got an exciting new project in the works right now on that front. Knowing that I have limited hours each week to write, I’d rather spend time updating you about events and leave the cocktail experiments more for Instagram and Patreon. So yeah, less frequent mixology posts but more frequent community posts. As always, thank y’all for being awesome.