Enjoy 8 classic summer drinks, with a twist – The Denver Post

By Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

Like moving turtleneck sweaters to the back of the closet, it’s time to retire well-aged whiskeys and bring on the clear spirits, fruit juices and crushed ice. The warmer seasons demand refreshing drinks, alcoholic or not, served in tall, frosted glasses.

The classic repertoire has much to offer in this category; it’s hard to go wrong with a gin and tonic or a caipirinha. But many of these summer staples could stand a creative update or a touch of surprise without compromising their honest appeal. Detailed below are a gin and tonic with a Spanish twist, sangria made with rosé wine and a Bellini buzzed with one of the new pink proseccos that did not exist when Giuseppe Cipriani created the now-classic in Venice, Italy.

There is also a slushy Southside, with rum replacing the usual gin, a Paloma bolstered with grapefruit liqueur and spiked with chile, and a spritzer bejeweled with cherries, which always ramp up the refreshment level of a glass of wine, especially red.

For drinks of the nonalcoholic sort, Agua Fresca is the Mexican and Central American quencher made by simply adding some fruit purée or juice to cold water with a squirt of lime and, depending on the ripeness of your fruit, a touch of sweetener. Almost anything goes for this drink, even nonsweet additions like cucumbers. The Fourth of July American version would be lemonade, an almost blank canvas that can be splashed with summery flavors like strawberry, peach or mango.

Beyond these suggestions, you can add liqueurs like triple sec and elderflower or white rum to make a happy-hour iced tea, or drop a jigger of sambuca into iced coffee to serve with or instead of dessert. Gin in the lemonade is a quick nod to Tom Collins, a summer standby, and crushed fresh berries enliven chilled sparkling cider, alcoholic or not.