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Bottoms up! DIY summer cocktails

Chrissy Dupé

Starting to get a little sick of wine? Me neither. But summer’s here to stay, so it’s probably time to mix it up a bit.

That’s right friends – it’s time to dust off the hard liquor, bust out your favourite Hawaiian shirt and get your best Tom Cruise impersonation ready. It’s cocktail time.

cherries chrissy

Embarrassingly, my first experience with something vaguely resembling a cocktail was a Midori and lemonade at The Private Bin–a top-notch establishment, for those of us old enough to remember it.

But just like food, cocktails really have come a long way since then. Of course, you’ve got your good old classics like the Cosmopolitan, Martini, Daiquiri and Margarita, but there’s no rule saying you have to stick to tradition when you’re making DIY cocktails at home.

rosemary cocktails

That’s the fun part – you get to experiment and play around with different ingredients.

I’m not a cocktail expert by any means, but I do know what flavours I like. So I just put ingredients together that I think might work well, and use some of the basic techniques that I know will make it taste good – like adding a little sugar syrup, shaking the mixture over ice and straining it to make sure it’s nice and smooth.

And you can serve them in whatever you like too to make them a bit more fun – think mason jars, milk bottles, or even tea cups. Get creative!

cherry cocktail chrissy

Some of my favourite fruit is just starting to come into season – raspberries, peaches, cherries, lemons, limes – seeing them put out at the markets is exciting because it means summer isn’t far away – that, and all the freshly mown grass and the delicious smell of backyard barbecues firing up around the neighbourhood.

cherries chrissy2

So I decided it was time to shake things up with some thirst-quenching little creations in preparation for the Christmas party season. 

Sure, they look all pretty and innocent but don’t be fooled – they pack a punch. I love the combination of sweetness and earthiness that you get when you put fruit and herbs together, so I chose some juicy seasonal fruits and paired them with some of my favourite herbs.

It’s a big call, but I think infused sugar syrup is one of my favourite discoveries this year. It’s so simple and easy to make, but it makes such a big difference to the flavour of your cocktail. And you can make it taste like anything you like!

chrissy raspberries

So, whether you’re heading down to the beach for a getaway with friends or entertaining at home, these three easy and refreshing DIY summer cocktails are guaranteed to cool you off and chill you out this festive season. Bottoms up!

Raspberry Rosemary Juleps

rosemary cocktail chrissy

Prep time: 15 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

Cocktail

2 punnets fresh raspberries
2 rosemary sprigs (plus 4 for serving)
80 ml (4 tbsp) good quality vodka
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
6-8 ice cubes
80ml soda water

Maple and rosemary syrup

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
4 rosemary sprigs

Instructions

For the maple and rosemary syrup

Heat the maple syrup and water together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly until it starts to simmer. Take it off the heat and set aside for five minutes to cool. Pour the liquid into an airtight container, add four rosemary sprigs and put into the fridge to cool for around 20 mins.

To mix the cocktails

Muddle the raspberries so they’re still a little bit chunky. Add the ice to a cocktail shaker, followed by half of the vodka, two tablespoons of the raspberry mixture, one tablespoon of simple syrup, 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice, one tbsp orange juice and two rosemary sprigs.

Put the lid on and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Pour through a strainer or sieve into two small milk bottle jars or other glasses.

Repeat the above process with the remaining ingredients for the third and fourth cocktail. Finish each cocktail off with a dash (around 20ml) soda water each and a sprig of fresh rosemary and serve with a straw.

Peachy Keen Basil Bellinis

chrissy bellinis

Prep time: 10 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

Cocktail

4 ripe yellow peaches, peeled, stones removed and chopped
1 bottle of Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine)
3 fresh basil leaves

Basil-infused sugar syrup

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
6 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

For the sugar syrup

Heat the sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly until it starts to simmer. Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir until all the sugar is dissolved (about three minutes). Take it off the heat and set aside for five minutes to cool. Pour the liquid into an airtight container, add six fresh basil leaves and put into the fridge to cool for around 20 minutes.

To make the cocktail

Put the chopped peaches into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add two tablespoons of the sugar syrup, mixing together.

Carefully spoon about two tablespoons of the peach and sugar syrup mixture into the bottom of four champagne glasses. Slowly top up with Prosecco and stir gently to mix together just before serving.

Spiked Cherry Soda Thyme!

DSC08498-3 (1)

Prep time: 15 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

Cocktail

600g fresh cherries, pitted
80ml good quality gin
Splash of bitters
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
6-8 ice cubes
120ml soda water

Thyme-infused sugar syrup

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
6 thyme sprigs

Instructions

For the sugar syrup

Heat the sugar and water together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly until it starts to simmer. Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir until all the sugar is dissolved (about three minutes). Take it off the heat and set aside for five minutes to cool. Pour the liquid into an airtight container, add six thyme sprigs and put into the fridge to cool for around 20 minutes.

To mix the cocktails

Place the pitted cherries into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of the sugar syrup and mix together.

Put ice into the cocktail mixer and add half of the gin, half of the cherry mixture, 1/4 tbsp lime juice, a small splash of bitters, three sprigs of fresh thyme. Put the lid on and shake vigorously for around 20 seconds. Pour through a strainer or sieve into two small mason jars or other glasses.

Repeat the above process for the third and fourth cocktails with the remaining ingredients. Finish all four off with 30ml of soda water each and serve with a straw and a cherry on top.

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Chrissy Dupé

Chrissy is a lover of lists and a self-confessed control freak. Her mission is to help other women with a strong need to be in control learn how to harness the power of their inner control freak and use it for good. Having lived through the devastation that being control freak without focus brings, and going out the other side stronger, Chrissy developed a series of hands-on, zero 'fluff' programs to help women control their freak, instead of letting it run them into the ground. Her philosophy is based on the little-known fact that control freaks are actually born for greatness... and that without them, the world would fall into disorganised chaos. You can find out more at www.controlyourfreak.com. More about the Author

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