Canada

July 22 2022

Today on SIRIUSXM satellite radio, SIRIUSXM’s Dahlia Kurtz and Sommelier Matt Steeves were chatting about their top recommended Summer Staycation Backyard ‘resort’ Cocktails. Checkout the full chat here:

When the temperature is sky rocketing there’s nothing like a glass of chilled Rosé or a chilled summer cocktail to keep you refreshed.

Iced cocktails are the perfect solution to cooling off on those hot summer days, and when you’re entertaining they’re especially handy as you can make them ahead of time and enjoy all the time outside instead of in the kitchen. 

With a few simple ingredients, you can easily craft your own signature iced cocktails that you and your guests are sure to love!

Enjoying a Spritz in Verona Italy during Amarone Opera Prima

Earlier this summer Matt was in Verona Italy and it was scorching hot, 35C each day, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying lots of delicious and very refreshing Valpolicella (red) wines. Hot wine is not something you ever want to be served, it’s like getting a melted dish of ice cream – the ingredients are all the same but it’s fundamentally different and totally misses the mark on what it’s supposed to taste like.

Enjoying a delicious Amarone outside on a gorgeous summer evening – the servers managed the wine temperature perfectly to ensure a fantastic tasting experience despite the +30c heat late into the evening…


So, what’s the secret to enjoying red wine in the heat of the summer? It’s simple, keeping the temperature of the wines below 20c. How to do that? Basic, just keep wines in the fridge, or on ice, and go for smaller and more frequent pours – those are the keys to keeping your wine at the perfect temperature, and thus optimizing the tasting experience, regardless of how steaming hot it is outside.

Rosé all day! Such a great and versatile wine to enjoy in the heat of the summer but also all year round!

Arguably the most iconic patio-perfect wine is Rosé! Who doesn’t love enjoying a glass of chilled Rosé with some friends on a patio? Rosé wines are perfect this time of year and the local wine shops are full of options to choose from which makes it a great go-to wine style to serve in the summer. Highly recommend checking out this beauty from volcanic Sicily in Italy (Donnafugata in partnership with Dolce & Gabbana).

If you don’t have a Rosé on hand no worries, you can also serve lighter bodied red wines chilled and enjoy the crisp and refreshing bright fruit they show.  Great examples for this are basic Valpolicella wines, like Bolla Valpolicella Classico.  They show really well chilled, and they pair great with charcuterie and pretty much anything you’re going to be throwing on the BBQ.  So chilled light bodied red wines are great choices for keeping your guests refreshed too!

Before we get into some of my favourite iced cocktails and sangria recipes, here’s a few tips for serving ice cold drinks in the heat of the summer…

  1. Put down that massive pint glass…bigger isn’t always better when it comes to serving and enjoying ice cold drinks in the heat of the summer.  This time of year I recommend smaller glasses with smaller and more frequent pours.  Double walled glasses work great, so do smaller glasses with more frequent pours.
  2. Use big ice cubes.  Small ice cubes or crushed ice will melt faster than large cubes meaning your special drink is more likely to get watered down and lose the flavour profile you intended when you mixed it.  Bigger is better in this case.
  3. Use small cans or bottles of mix, such as ginger beer, tonic water and club soda, to get the most fizz.  2L bottles tend to go flat quickly which means you’re not getting the full texture your drink is supposed to deliver.  I prefer the small 222ml cans of club soda and tonic water versus the 355 ml cans as the smaller cans are perfect for one drink and they seem to pack more fizz too.
  4. Whenever possible use freshly squeezed lemon and lime over the bottled alternatives.  You know exactly what you’re getting when you squeeze a lime on your own and there’s nothing fresher than that.
  5. Keep your vodka, gin, and other spirits in the freezer prior to service to help keep your cocktail as cold as possible.

Following those few tips will help make your cocktails some of the finest your guests will enjoy all summer long!

Alright, enough of that let’s get into our short list of backyard ‘resort’ cocktails recommended for serving this summer:

These iced summer cocktails are absolute dynamite and will work perfectly at keeping you and your guests refreshed all summer long!

Ruby Squeeze:

For those who love effervescent cocktails, Ruffino has created the refreshing grapefruit-based Ruby Squeeze, featuring Ruffino Prosecco. The grapefruit wonderfully complements the naturally occurring citrus in the Prosecco, resulting in a vibrant drink that’s sure to impress any cocktail connoisseur.

 Ingredients

2 parts Ruffino Prosecco

1½ parts fresh grapefruit juice

1 part Campari

¾ parts honey syrup (2:1 honey to water)

Grapefruit slice

Instructions

 Build the cocktail in a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.

 Sangria Slushies:

There are so many options when it comes to Sangria. Most common in Spain and Portugal, it normally consists of red wine, fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of Brandy or Grand Marnier. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwi, mango, and just about anything else! A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice is added.  Instead of Brandy, other liquids such as soda water or lemonade may be added. Sangria is steeped while chilled for as little as minutes or up to a few days, making it a great drink to prepare in advance of your party so it’s full flavored and ready to enjoy as soon as your guests arrive.

Today, I’m recommending a Sangria Slushie…super easy to make, and a major time saver when it’s time to enjoy as they’re ready to roll, just remove from the freezer, blend, and serve!

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle red wine (try a Valolicella Ripasso)
  • 1/3 c. Brandy (such as St-Remy VSOP)
  • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Orange wedges, for garnish

 Instructions

  • Pour the Valpolicella Ripasso wine into empty ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
  • Combine Valpolicealla Ripasso ice cubes with Brandy, orange juice, and honey and blend until smooth.
  • Pour into glasses and garnish with orange and lime wedges.

Strawberry F’rosé

Ingredients

Servings: Makes 4–6

Preparation

  • Pour Rosé into a 13″x9″ pan and freeze until almost solid (it won’t completely solidify due to the alcohol), at least 6 hours.
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add strawberries, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes to infuse syrup with strawberry flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl (do not press on solids); cover and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  • Scrape rosé into a blender. Add lemon juice, 3½ ounces strawberry syrup, and 1 cup crushed ice and purée until smooth. Transfer blender jar to freezer and freeze until frosé is thickened (aim for milkshake consistency), 25–35 minutes.
  • Blend again until frosé is slushy. Divide among glasses.
  • Do Ahead: Rosé can be frozen 1 week ahead.

Top Shelf Vodka Gimlet

  • 2 oz. vodka, preferably a premium Canadian vodka such Top Shelf, from Perth Ontario.
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • Lime wedge, for serving

Directions: Shake vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup over ice. Pour in a coupe and garnish with lime wedge – a classy summery cocktail.

Turn it into a Slushie by combining all the ingredients and lots of ice in a blender then serving in a glass with or without a reusable straw.

Canadian Mule

A favourite iced cocktail is the Moscow Mule. This cocktail became popular during the vodka craze in the USA during the 1950s. The Moscow Mule is made with a high quality vodka, a spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime. It is usually served in a copper mug. I like to mix my Mules with  premium Canadian vodka, thereby transforming them into Canadian Mules. Look for local spicy ginger beer also, such as Ottawa-based Harvey & Vern’s Ginger Beer to add that sweet and spicy extra kick to this popular summer cocktail. 

 Ingredients:

1/2 oz. lime juice

2 oz. vodka (Dillon’s available at LCBO)

4-6 oz. ginger beer

Directions:

Squeeze lime juice into a Collins glass (or Moscow Mule mug) and drop in the spent shell.

Add 2 or 3 ice cubes, then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer (not ginger ale, although what the hell).

Wishing you a great summer of enjoying lots of wonderful times with family and friends, keeping refreshed with delicious wines and iced cocktails!

Cheers!

Matt