How to Use Low-Proof Spirits to Make Perfect Summer Cocktails

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The heat of summer is here, and with it comes the temptation to spend every Saturday sitting by the pool and day drinking. But high summer temperatures aren't to be taken lightly.

For one, drinking too much alcohol in the heat can be a fast ticket to dehydration. It's important to drink water throughout any outdoor cocktail sessions. It's also wise to switch to drinks with lower alcohol by volume.

If you find yourself going to bed early, “it may be time to acquaint yourself with the low-proof 'suppressors,'” says Bar Hops Owner and Consultant William Batson. “But this luxury doesn’t have to come in the form of dainty drinks.”

“Many [low-ABV cocktails] are based on underutilized spirits and aperitifs that are seeing a huge resurgence in bars across the US,” he says. “A recent wave of fortified wine products, amaros/amari, and liqueurs have hit the shelves in the Home of the Brave and with that a new generation of barmen/women and imbibers.”

Top Trends

These cocktails are becoming trendy. Very trendy. According to Batson, they’re gaining popularity right now because of the heat and the ingredients that are newly available. Two of these categories of newly popular drinks are cobblers and spritzes.

A cobbler is a spirits or wine-based drink sweetened with sugar syrup or liqueur. It’s been around at least since the 1830s, and was a novelty drink since it necessitated both ice and a straw. In Imbibe!, food historian David Wondrich says that the Sherry Cobbler was one of the most popular drinks of the late 19th century.

Spritzes are wine-based cocktails made with a bitter liqueur and topped with a bit of soda. This type of drink is insanely popular in Europe, and especially in Italy. In fact, more than 300,000 Aperol Spritzes are estimated to be drunk in the Veneto region of Italy every day.

Aside from the Aperol Sprtiz, an equal parts combination of Rabarbaro Zucca, sweet vermouth, and soda is known as a Mezzo E Mezzo (Half and Half). Equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth topped with soda is called an Americano.

Hit The Lab

Sherry Cobbler
Courtesy Will Batson, The Bar Hops

2 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
.5 oz Angostura 7 yr Rum
.5 oz Pineapple Syrup
2 Orange Wheels
Mint, Seasonal Berries or Fruit, Straw, and Powdered Sugar for garnish

Muddle orange wheels with the rum in a cobbler shaker. Add the sherry, syrup, and ice. Shake the crap out of it. Make a mound of shaved ice in a small shaker tin or tin cup and strain the cocktail into it. Top with a mound of ice. Garnish with sprigs of mint and seasonal berries. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top, and insert a straw that allows you to sip the beverage.