Patio season has officially begun and cocktail lovers are looking for easy and delicious recipes for summer sipping. A huge trend this year is savoury cocktails — balanced drinks that go beyond fruity (and beyond that Canadian savoury stand-by, the Caesar) to incorporate herbal, vegetal, smoky or even salty flavours.
I appeared on CTV Calgary this morning to talk (and make) savoury cocktails that are crowd pleasers and super easy to execute. CTV host Aisling Tomei and I worked our way through a Smoky Hot Pepper Negroni with Campari, Cinzano Rosso and mezcal; a refreshing Amber Road with Aperol and Wild Turkey bourbon; and a beer cocktail featuring Innis & Gunn Lager.
Mixing savoury summer cocktails with Aisling Tomei. Her favourite was the Amber Road. Mine? The Smoky Hot Pepper Negroni!
I’ve included the recipes below. Enjoy!
Smoky Hot Pepper Negroni
Description: This savoury sipper is a twist on a classic Negroni, using smoky mezcal instead of gin, and adding a hit of habanero syrup for heat.
If you don’t want to make your own Negroni, check out Negroni Week in Calgary, happening June 6-12, where 28 Calgary bars are featuring the cocktail, and donating sales proceeds to the charity of their choice. It’s a great opportunity to drink for a cause!
This twist on a Negroni uses smoky mezcal, which stands up beautifully to the bitter Campari.
- 1 oz mezcal
- 1 oz Cinzano Rosso sweet vermouth
- 1/2 oz Campari
- 1 tsp habanero simple syrup*
- Garnish: Dried chili pepper
Method: In a mixing glass combine mezcal, Cinzano Rosso, Campari and habanaro simple syrup. Add ice and stir until drink is well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over a large cube of ice, and garnish with a dried chili pepper.
*Habanero simple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 habanero peppers, quartered
Method: Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add peppers and simmer for up to 10 minutes (periodically check syrup to see how spicy it’s becoming). When desired spiciness is reached, remove from heat and strain out peppers. Store the syrup in the fridge in a sealed container.
Description: Tart and slightly bitter. with natural sweetness from the bourbon and maple syrup, this light summer spritz is just the thing for those patio afternoons.
Long and fizzy, this twist on an Aperol spritz is delicious.
- 1-1/2 oz Wild Turkey 81 Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- 1 oz Aperol
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 oz maple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Top soda water
- Garnish: Mint sprig
Method: Combine Wild Turkey, Aperol, lemon juice, maple syrup and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake, then strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with about 2 ounces of soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
Salted Lager Scotch-tail
Description: A float of peated whisky stands up to this robust lager and — along with the salted rim — adds a layer of Scottish intrigue to this beer cocktail, while keeping it light and fresh for summer.
Beer cocktails and savoury cocktails like this one are on-trend. The Salted Innis & Gunn Scotch-tail is smoky, salty and refreshing. Pair with peanuts.
- 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 water-to-sugar ratio)
- 250mL Innis & Gunn Lager
- Float of peated whisky (about 1/4 to 1/2 oz, depending on desired smokiness)
- Garnish: Lemon wheel
Method: Salt the rim of a rocks glass with Himalayan sea salt, then add a large sphere of ice. Build the drink in the glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.