We know spring just sprung, and hasn’t reached many of you at all, but we are already thinking about “long drinks” for summer. For those who are unfamiliar, long drinks are simply large volume cocktails, often six to eight ounces, with more mixer than spirits, usually served on the rocks and often associated with warm summer afternoons, garden parties and preludes to long naps. (We also like to drink them while gardening, but that is just us). The Tom Collins is probably the classic long drink, highballs like the Gin and Tonic also qualify, and there are other well-known classics like the Cuba Libre, Paloma, Pimm’s Cup and the Dark ‘n Stormy. All worth a try, and you may see some more here on the blog over the next few weeks.
Part of the fun of long drinks is that you can take almost any mixer, add some spirits, and perhaps a few modifiers, and you have a new drink. The variations are almost endless and it is pretty hard to screw up. In most cases the mixer is non-alcoholic like juice, soda water or ginger ale, but we decided to make a long drink from an apéritif and just a splash of spirits. And if we mix with an apéritif, it will often be Lillet Blanc, one of our favorite ingredients. (See the Rose Pearl for another long drink, this time using Lillet Rose.)
Lillet Blanc is a fortified wine that combines white wine with citrus (mostly orange) infused spirits. It is sweet with citrus notes and a slight bitter quinine edge (if you like things a bit more bitter use Cocchi Americano) and is very easy to sip on the rocks. But we wanted to amp the orange flavor, tame some of the sweetness and add some “heat” from alcohol, but not mess with the core flavors of the Lillet. So we figured this might be the kind of cocktail that makes good use of the vodka gathering dust on our bar (gin tends to win out here at the farm). And while vodka is not always a respected mixology ingredient, it does have its uses, and this was one of those times.
The Sunny in the Garden combines Lillet Blanc, vodka, lemon juice, orange bitters and a large orange twist, served on the rocks. The aroma is wine, floral and citrus, perfect for summer. As for the taste, you get a big, sweet wine and orange sip up front, but balanced by the lemon juice and just a bit of kick from the booze at the finish. Is this the world’s most complex cocktail? Hardly. But is a very enjoyable sipper you can linger over, think “like white Sangria, but way better”. In fact, we may serve the Sunny in the Garden along with summer meals as a substitute for wine or Sangria. But summer is still a ways away, so for now we will just have to sip this while gardening. We can live with that. Now about that nap….
- 4 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
- 1 oz. vodka
- 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
- Long orange peel, for garnish
- Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and then strain into a highball or Collins glass filled with ice.
- Twist the orange peel over the drink and rub along the edge of the glass. Add the orange peel to the cocktail. Serve.
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