Summer means relaxing outside, taking in some well-needed Vitamin D, and enjoying the company of family, friends and neighbors during impromptu porch hangs, BBQs or just dinner al fresco. When we spend the summer in Greece, we do all of the above, especially in the evenings when the heat dissipates and the Mediterranean Sea breeze starts to flow in.
To help with the cool down, we always have some ice-cold beverages to keep us company. As much as we love a frosty beer, we use these occasions to mix it up and imbibe on simple, refreshing cocktails or, for the traditionalists, ouzo on ice. Your cocktail is typically served with a small bucket of ice so you can continue to refresh your drink as the ice melts. Of course, Greeks never have alcohol on an empty stomach. There are always some snacks to nibble on as you watch the sunset with your drink in hand. Most often, you will find plump Kalamata olives and additionally salty pieces of graviera cheese - second-favorite to feta in Greece.
Wherever we are, we like to recreate these evenings because we find them to be the idyllic way to wind-down a long day at work or a way to kick-off an outdoor gathering with friends. Our metal ice bucket with tongs and set of two mezze (Greek for small dish) boats are all you need to put this together at your home with any drink or snacks of your choice. So, in the spirit of the season, be ready with these essentials for your next entertainment and pair with any of the recipes below to make some seriously cool summer libations.
OUZO AND COFFEE COCKTAIL via SOUVLAKI FOR THE SOUL
30 ml fennel syrup (recipe follows)
60 ml ouzo
30 ml of your favourite coffee flavoured liqueur
brewed coffee, chilled
orange slice for garnish
Fill a stemless wine glass with ice. Add the fennel syrup, ouzo and coffee flavoured liqueur and stir. Top with chilled brewed coffee and garnish with an orange slice.
For the fennel syrup: Lightly grind the fennel seeds using a mortar and pestle. Grind them just enough to release the oils. Do not turn the seeds into a fine powder. Combine lightly ground seeds, sugar, and water in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Allow the mixture to come to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes until it slightly thickens. Remove mixture from heat, and allow it to infuse for 1 hour. Strain the syrup, and let it cool before using in a cocktail
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup tequila blanco
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
smoked salt or flaky sea salt
lots of ice cubes
1 cup club soda
Combine the grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice, and sugar in a container. Stir, wait five minutes, and stir again. To prepare each drink, run a lime wedge along the edge of half of each glass, and dip rim in salt. Pour 1/2 cup of the grapefruit mixture into each glass filled with ice. Top off with about 1/4 cup of club soda.