Top 10 summer drinks
1 Unisex coolers
"Bottled cocktails, wine cocktails or premixed drinks are always hot in the summer, especially because they are getting better," says Konrad Ejbich, STYLE AT HOME's Wine & Spirits columnist. Though coolers have a rep as a fruity drink women favour, the trend this summer, he says, is ready-to-drink concoctions like Absolut Cut and Hydra, which appeal to both sexes. "They're going unisex," Konrad says.
2 Strong flavours
No more flavours for the faint of heart -- now, it's all about serving up big tastes. Ranging from pomegranate to guanabana, shake things up with something wholly unexpected. "The hottest thing is vanilla –- gin, rum, everything," Konrad says. He also mentions that currant and raspberry spirits are growing in popularity. Get pouring!
Icy scoops of spiked granita will have guests begging for the recipe. A staple in Italian restaurants, granita can easily be made at home. The SAQ, Quebec's liquor licensing board, has delish recipes, like mango and tequila or raspberries and red wine, at saq.com.
4 Dark lagers
"Don't be afraid of the dark! These dark lagers and ales are surprisingly refreshing with hints of caramel, a malt character and a smooth, refreshing finish," says John Hay, president of Ontario Craft Brewers. He's referring to Waterloo Dark Lager, Black Jack Premium Lager, and the award-winning Neustadt 10w30 Brown Ale. Check out ontariocraftbrewers.ca.
5 Signature cocktail
Galas, launches and fabulous weddings have signature cocktails, and you should too! For your next get-together, make a signature tipple for everyone. Do you suppose sinful chocolate martinis will go untouched? Doubt it!
6 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
"Sauvignon blanc is the hot pick to keep our cool this summer," says Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. "I'm keen on crisp, refreshing white wines from New Zealand, such as those from Cooper Creek, Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford," she says. They complement summer fare like salads, shellfish and cold meats, she adds in her free wine e-newsletter at nataliemaclean.com.
7 Organic brews
Organic foods have taken off, so it's no surprise organic booze is finding its way onto a shelf near you –- everything from organic beer such as Mill St. Original Organic Lager to spirits like Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin.
8 Apricot julep
A twist on the Southern summer classic, mint julep, apricot julep has been praised by
New York super-chef Daniel Boulud as a hot cocktail party drink. Here's his recipe:
3 to 5 sprigs of mint leaves, torn into pieces
2 ounces of apricot purée
1 ounce of freshly squeezed orange juice
1.5 ounces of bourbon
0.5 ounce of apricot brandy
0.5 ounce of simple syrup (store-bought or make your own)
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a glass, topping it up with club soda.
>Sparkling wine is always in style, and California bubblies are hotter than ever. Wine expert Natalie MacLean loves the moderately priced Roederer Brut from California.
10 Infused vodka
Infusing vodka with fruits, herbs and spices adds a complex flavour -- lavender and cucumber are on-trend this summer. Let marinate, then strain. Try it chilled and straight up, on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails. You'll find plenty more recipes in Infused: 100 Recipes for Infused Liquors and Cocktails (Raincoast, August 2006).