Summertime cocktails: white sangria and strawberry-basil caipirinhas to help battle Fall Creep.

Strawberry-Basil Caipirinha with the first issue of Cherry Bombe.
Strawberry-Basil Caipirinha with the first issue of Cherry Bombe.

OK, so I feel a little guilty. I’ve been sitting on these cocktails for most of the summer, but because I couldn’t write my way to a coherent blog post until now, these recipes have gone unpublished and therefore not enjoyed by anyone who hasn’t had the chance to hang out with us in the intervening weeks. But Fall Creep has started to rear its ugly head, so I need to share these post-haste before the it comes to wipe out what’s left of summer.

Let me be clear: I love the fall, but I HATE Fall Creep. Thanks to platforms such as Tumblr and Pinterest, people can indulge their desire for cooler weather practically year-round; unfortunately, CPG companies have realized that they can start pushing things like pumpkin-flavored lattes and Halloween candy even earlier than they ever thought possible as a result of said anticipation. It’s one thing when malls are decked out for Christmas before Thanksgiving–it is quite another when images of sweaters and pumpkins and dead leaves pop up on my feeds before the peak tomato season has even hit the Northeast. Tomato season is SPECIAL, you guys, and it is far too short to be passed over for fall-flavored syrups without a second thought.

So before you go and ruin the many weeks we still have left of summer with your fall cravings, may I suggest making at least one of these cocktails? I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

White Sangria with Peaches, Strawberries, Mint, and St. Germain
White Sangria with Peaches, Strawberries, Mint, and St. Germain

As someone who is not a habitual white wine drinker, I adore this sangria because you get a little fizz from the vinho verde, some kick from the pisco brandy, and the sweetness from the fruit and the little little bit of St. Germain. It’s the drink we’ve welcomed our visitors with this summer: brisk and strong without being too cloyingly sweet. The pisco brandy adds the necessary kick without adding a brownish tint to the whole affair, while the vinho verde itself is relatively low in alcohol. The St. Germain is literally only used as a sweet note, and a little goes a very long way here. Add sparingly and taste as you mix.

The caipirinha is inspired by a similar drink we enjoyed at Pacifico in New Haven and I’ve been tinkering with the recipe ever since I tried it there so many years ago. The way I make it leaves the sliced strawberries in tact, but if you felt like experimenting yourself, you could definitely try muddling them with the limes and the sugar. (Just don’t muddle the basil or else it will turn black and unappealing.)

And if you’re looking for something new to read while you sip outside with one of these cocktails, may I suggest Cherry Bombe? It’s a new semi-annual food journal with contributions largely coming from women writers, chefs, photographers, and stylists, and features everything from cookbook reviews to photo essays of BBQ pitmasters on the job to musings on food issues from celebrity contributors like Sofia Coppola. The photography and layouts are gorgeous, the pieces well-written, and it’s all a wonderful celebration of both style and substance. It’s available in a few bookstores now, as well as online.

In the meantime, well, cheers!

Strawberry-Basil Caipirinha

serves 2

  • 1 lime, sliced into chunks, divided into two glasses (slice them into quarters, and then slice them again in half)
  • Four strawberries, hulled, halved, and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (1 per drink)
  • 5-6 large basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 lime, halved, with juice of each half to be added to each drink
  • 4 oz cachaça, divided (2 oz per glass)

Sprinkle sugar over limes in each glass, and using a muddler, carefully squish together. Add strawberries and muddle a little more. Add cachaca and lime juice, basil, and then a few cubes of ice per glass and stir well to combine. Serve immediately.

White Sangria

Adapted from Tapas by José Andrés

  • 1 cup chopped mixed fresh fruits: strawberries, peaches, and white grapes are especially good; mango is also fantastic
  • 1 bottle of vinho verde
  • ¼ cup Pisco brandy
  • 2 fresh mint sprigs
  • Generous splash of St. Germain

Combine all ingredients but the St. Germain into a pitcher, mix well, and then add the St. Germain to taste–about a half a shot to a shot’s worth will do the trick, but add a little at a time, stir, and taste before adding more. Keep in the refrigerator until well-chilled, and then serve.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. biz319 says:

    Those drinks do look like summer, don’t they? I am with you – they started selling school supplies around July 1 – really?!!

    1. elizabeth says:

      And Halloween candy is already out, and apparently Costco is already starting to show Christmas decorations!! I mean, I understand that with the rise of Pinterest people like to get ahead of crafts and projects and the like, but stop trying ot make cold weather happen sooner!

  2. PinotNinja says:

    I made the sangria last night and it was perfect!! Just the antidote I needed after making a quick trip back to Southeastern CT last weekend where I was served pumpkin beer, which I do love, but just not in August when its still sunny and warm out. I also had the most amazing fresh off a neighbor’s plant heirloom orange tomatoes on Sunday afternoon. So absolutely perfect that I am considering moving back to the northeast just to be closer to them.

    1. elizabeth says:

      I’m so glad you liked it-thank you for reporting back! And yes, you SHOULD move back to the Northeast, because NE tomatoes are a revelation.

  3. shannon says:

    Ah, the Fall Creep: just like Christmas decorations in department stores, it just happens earlier and earlier every year, and for no good reason. it’s the hottest it’s been all summer where i am, so the timing seems particularly off. I’ve seen Pinterest and my blog reader increasingly peppered with fall food and decor, so it’s coming, but this drink definitely fits the bill for right now, in my opinion. it’s so lovely!
    i’ll have to check out Cherry Bombe: sounds like something i’d really enjoy.

    1. elizabeth says:

      Definitely get a copy–I think you especially will enjoy it.

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