Blessed is the time of year when woolen coats and heavy sweaters can finally be swapped for shorts and bikinis. Dust off the hammock, fire up the grill, and slather on the SPF—it’s time to delight in the sultry days of summer. What’s on the menu? How about coolers!
In his book The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks, noted beverage journalist Anthony Dias Blue describes a cooler as “a tall iced drink served in a collins glass. The basic formula includes a wine or spirit, a carbonated beverage, and a citrus rind for garnish. The citrus garnish is usually one continuous spiral that hooks over the rim of the glass.”
I have taken some liberties with this classic definition to include fresh fruit juices and purees, as well as fresh fruit garnishes, served long over ice in the aforementioned collins glass or goblet. A long drink is a beverage designed to be enjoyed over a longer period of time than a cocktail. It’s a tall libation best appreciated when the weather heats up and we are longing for lighter and definitely restorative forms of thirst-quenching refreshment.
The key to crafting a great cooler is to embrace the season and utilize the fresh fruits and juices that celebrate the coming of summer. Try incorporating homemade fresh-fruit lemonades featuring berries such as vine-ripe strawberries, red raspberries, or blackberries. Pineapple juice and tropical fruit purees such as mango, passion fruit, and papaya are naturals for coolers. Melons add great flavor and natural sweetness, whether from freshly pressed watermelon juice or a fresh puree made from cantaloupe or honeydew. Sparkling water and artesian sodas add fizz and tickle to stimulate flavor. Spirits also tend to lean toward the lighter side and generally center on the whites: vodka and flavored vodka, gin, rum, and Tequila. Remember, when choosing fresh summer fruits, if you like to eat them, then you more than likely will enjoy working them into some kind of refreshing and restorative cooler.
The Sunsplash a colorful, fun, feel-good sort of drink, is one of many cocktail originals that came to life at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room in San Francisco. It’s a perfect libation for a sunny afternoon’s gathering with friends, and it has “poolside” written all over it. A blend of orange-flavored vodka, cranberry, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices, and Cointreau, it’s a delicious, fruity cocktail that doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it is—fresh and delightful.
Although this drink was originally made with Stolichnaya Ohranj, a bust-out product in the flavored vodka category, the recipe also works great with either Belvedere Pomarancza or Absolut Mandarin vodkas. With its vibrant display of color, delicious balance of fruit flavors, and slightly tempered kick, the Sunsplash is just right for your next poolside gathering. So if you are looking for the perfect warm-weather, “fun in the sun” sort of cooler, this should do the trick.
1½ oz Stolichnaya Ohranj Vodka
½ oz Cointreau
1½ oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ oz cranberry juice
1 oz fresh lemon sour*
Orange-slice and lemon-spiral garnishes
Combine vodka, Cointreau, juices, and lemon sour in ice-filled mixing glass. Shake until well blended and strain into ice-filled tumbler. Garnish with orange slice and lemon spiral.
*Mix two parts freshly squeezed, filtered lemon juice with one part simple syrup.