Recipes from the North Fork-inspired ‘Summer Cocktails’

Summer Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa Photography by Tara Striano

Summer Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa. (Credit: Tara Striano)

Whether you’re lounging by the pool, barbecuing on the grill or just hanging out, this season was made for summer cocktails — and that’s the title of a new book that was produced on the North Fork.

Featuring more than 100 seasonal drink recipes, “Summer Cocktails” also offers tips on stocking your bar and recipes for snacks and meals to accompany those cocktails.

The book is a collaboration between author Maria del Mar Sacas and photographer Tara Striano. Striano, a part-time Mattituck resident who shot many of the book’s photos at her North Fork home, says the book was a natural progression for the pair.

“We had done ‘Winter Cocktails’ the year before, so it’s a follow-up to that, but it does in some ways extend from our blog,” she said.

Striano and Sacasa share recipes, photographs and stories on their food blog cookinandshootin.com. “Summer Cocktails” is their second book together.

Having recently become a Mattituck resident, Striano says the North Fork served as their creative base.

“The North Fork in general seemed like the perfect location to shoot ‘Summer Cocktails,'” she said. “I’ve been going out to the North Fork since the 1990s and was renting houses out there for ages until I finally bought one.”

Sponsors who donated props and ingredients for the book’s production were also local. Flowers were supplied by Mattituck Florist and the White Flower Farm House in Southold. Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue donated wine and Long Island Spirits supplied the liquor for making the mixed drinks.

Many of the drink recipes rely on ingredients from the garden, especially a category called shrub cocktails. According to the book, “Originally shrubs were acidulated fruit liqueurs once popular in England, but the term also refers to fruit-flavored, sweetened vinegars that were popularized as drinks during colonial times in the U.S.”

“Shrub cocktails are a little bit more involved, but they’re kind of making a comeback these days,” Striano said. “They’re very good and you can make them non-alcoholic as well.”

Shrubs can be added to flavored club soda and even to make vinaigrettes. “Summer Cocktails” offers tantalizing shrub cocktail recipes like a blackberry-basil shrub and a blueberry-lemon shrub. If you don’t have the ingredients in your garden, there’s bound to be a North Fork farm stand selling what you need. Enjoy.

Below are a few recipes from “Summer Cocktails”:

KEEPING IT COOL – Watermelon Refresher

SERVES 1

Watermelon and cucumber are foods that double as thirst-quenchers, especially when juiced, as in this recipe and its variation. Stir in pisco (a potent grape brandy), lime-inflected cilantro, cool mint, and bright and spicy jalapeño, and you’ve got the summer heat in a chokehold.

3 tablespoons packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus sprigs for optional garnish

3 tablespoons packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for optional garnish

1⁄2 jalapeño pepper, chopped, plus rings for optional garnish

3 tablespoons granulated or raw cane sugar

Salt

11⁄2 cups (about 10 ounces) seedless watermelon cubes

2 ounces pisco

Crushed ice

Muddle cilantro and mint leaves, chopped jalapeño, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a shaker. Reserve 3 watermelon cubes for garnish.

In a blender, pulse the remaining watermelon and pisco until completely pureed. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or nut milk bag into shaker (discard solids), along with a handful of ice, and shake. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with the reserved watermelon cubes, plus cilantro, jalapeño, and mint, if desired. Serve immediately.

A CUCUMBER ELIXIR

Green Goddess

Replace the watermelon with 1 large Persian cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch dice, and the pisco with Dill, Cucumber, and Black Peppercorn Gin, Sake, or Vodka. Garnish with sliced cucumber and jalapeño rounds.

THE NEW GARDEN SALAD

Dill, Cucumber, and Black Peppercorn Gin, Sake, or Vodka

Infuse 1 (750-milliliter) bottle gin, sake, or vodka with 1/4 cup toasted black peppercorns, 1 bunch dill trimmed of stalky ends, and 1 medium English cucumber, sliced.

Place flavoring ingredients in a 1-quart airtight glass jar or other lidded container. Pour in spirit, close tightly, and shake.  Store in a cool, dry place; the refrigerator is ideal, especially if using delicate herbs like dill and cilantro, which can easily lose their attractive green hue.

Shake 2 to 3 times per day to redistribute ingredients. Taste the infusion every day; it is ready when the desired flavor intensity has been reached, anywhere between 1 and 5 days.

Strain the infusion through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean vessel; discard any solids. Use a funnel to return infusion to its original bottle. Infused liquor will keep indefinitely, but you may want to smell and taste it before using it in a cocktail if more than 6 months have passed since you made it.

(Excerpted from Summer Cocktails written by María del Mar Sacasa and photographed by Tara Striano. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books. Purchase the book on Amazon.com)