Long and Cool Drinks for Summer
Wine cups make excellent summer thirst-quenchers. They’re delicious laced with liqueurs or with spirits, and are often a welcome variation at weddings and other festive occasions, or for picnics and lunches, or supper in a summer garden. Served from glass jugs or bowls, they look good, too, if decorated attractively — so long as they’re not served as fruit salad in disguise! The simpler and the subtler, the better.
Ice makes all the difference to so many drinks. Some recipes call for crushed ice. It’s possible to crush ice cubes in some electric blenders, but chill the goblet first, and look at the instructions with your particular blender, to see if it can be used for this. Otherwise use the traditional method: wrap ice cubes in a tea-cloth and then in a folded towel, and then hammer like mad — with a hammer or mallet.
Ice cubes can look decorative, too. Boil the water first and let it get cold, then the final cubes will be that much clearer. You can use small strawberries or raspberries, cocktail cherries, red or blackcurrants, a tiny sprig of mint, a little piece of orange or lemon flesh — all these separately, of course — to put in each cube section of the ice trays. Add the cold boiled water to the tray (or trays) and freeze. When you come to serve individual drinks or generous bowls of cool punch, the garnish in the cubes will show up attractively.
WINES TO USE
Wine cups don’t need expensive wines. The most modest suit them well and, indeed, it would be ostentatious to use fine wines in these mixed drinks. Where a recipe mentions Claret or Burgundy, or a white Rhine wine or Moselle, any similar style of wine will do just as well. Equally, in a Champagne cup, use non-vintage Champagne or you have a wide choice of many bubbly wines, made by the Champagne method or the less expensive cuve close. Besides Spanish sparkling and the German sekts (sparkling Hocks or Moselle), there is sparkling Vouvray, sparkling Saumur, Asti Spumante, and many others. They will all show a substantial saving in the party budget, and so will sparkling Cider and, indeed, soda-water made by your own Sparklets system. Wine cups are also very adaptable.
Without any obvious difference in their appearance, they can be only mildly alcoholic for youngsters or strengthened effectively with an extra lacing of spirits or liqueurs.
FRUIT FOR SUMMER COOLERS
This is an essential, both for special flavours and for appearance. Many interesting ways to use fruit are discussed in the section on non-alcoholic drinks, and can be added to a cup which is to be basically wine and spirits or liqueurs. In cups, as in all mixed drinks where lemon or orange rind is listed, it doesn’t mean the whole peel, but only the yellow (or orange) part, pared as thinly as possible off the white pith.
Fresh herbs will add dash to your wine cups, too. Borage, lemon mint, balm, sweet verbena and bergamot are some of the less common ones to get. All the ingredients of cold cups, cold punches and the like should be well chilled (but not frozen) before they go into your mixture. If you are adding ice, you will keep the original balance of the cup better by adding large chunks rather than small ice cubes. Take out the separators from the ice trays in your fridge, and you will get handy-sized blocks for breaking up. But chill everything as well.
Soda-water or other bubbly drinks should be added to cups at the last minute. If at this stage the drink seems not sweet enough, add sugar syrup or liqueur. If your wine cup seems too sweet, then a glass of dry Sherry will sharpen it. And give the glass jug or bowl a deep stir from time to time, so that all the ingredients remain evenly mixed.