Perhaps I'm just clinging to summer, reluctant for fall. We moved house this summer and then faced what felt like weeks of massively hot days that kept me cooped up inside with our baby, in the air conditioning, to keep him from overheating. I feel like I've missed half the summer, so I don't quite want to see it go just yet.
Nevertheless, although Labor Day has passed, summer itself doesn't officially end until September 21. So I think there's still plenty of time to sneak in some end-of-summer boozing, using fresh, delicious fruit and veg from local growers.
Depending on where you live, you may still be able to find blueberries, cantaloupe, figs, peaches, plums, raspberries, and tomatoes at your nearest farmer's market. The time is right to buy more than you need and enjoy these seasonal treats in cocktail form.
What's simpler than peach puree topped with fizzy wine? Have some fun with this, though! Two summers ago, Helen Jane Hearn contributed ideas for setting up a Bellini bar for parties. Don't keep the joy all to yourself; have some friends over and party it up.
Roasted Fig Cocktail
Here's a late-summer take on a figgy boozing: the warm, earthy flavor of figs, teamed up with piquant balsamic vinegar, rich maple syrup, and whiskey. I think I'd use rye for this, but then again, I use rye for just about everything these days.
Pimm's and Cantaloupe
The Pimm's Cup should be named by an Act of Congress as the official drink of summer, I firmly believe—well, except for the fact that allowing Congress to name it such would probably cause most of the Pimm's current proponents to suddenly hate it. Okay, so maybe not such a good idea.
Nevertheless, while you still can, try this melony variation. It's just right at brunchtime.
Berries, amaro, and rye whiskey. What else, for the love of Bacchus, could you possibly want? This versatile cocktail will allow you to showcase whatever berries you can still find at your market over the next few weeks—raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, whatever.
Virgin Grilled-Tomato Bloody Maria
For something a little different, try this non-alcoholic Bloody Maria. Complex and savory from the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices, this cocktail may make you forget it's booze-free.