Summer Thirst-Quenching Cocktails

With the sweltering heat of late, the last thing anyone wants to eat or drink is something heavy. With that in mind, here are some refreshing summer spritzers that will keep you cool and relaxed on those unbearable days. The first is an all-time favorite of mine: Pimm’s Punch, also known as “English Sangria.” It’s a combination of Pimm’s No. 1—a secret gin-based liqueur—fresh fruit, and a splash of bubbly lemon soda, or prosecco if you’re feeling especially daring. It tastes even better than it looks!

Second on the list is Lemon Thyme Vodka Lemonade. I first had this combination years ago at a restaurant in Minneapolis, but I’ve been making it myself ever since. The thyme keeps it from being too sweet, and adds a sophisticated touch. Both cocktails work on their own, or look beautiful served in a big pitcher for a backyard get-together. Trust me, no one will be able to resist!

Pimms PunchPimm’s Punch

2 oranges, cut into half-moons
2 lemons, cut into half-moons
10 strawberries, cut in vertical slices
1 cucumber, sliced
2 cups Pimm’s No. 1
4 cups Sprite or other lemon-lime soda (or prosecco for an extra kick!)
6 to 8 large sprigs mint, crushed gently, plus a few loose leaves

Fill 2 pitchers 1/4 full with ice. To each, add a layer of orange slices, a few lemon slices, and a layer of cucumber slices. Repeat the layering. Pour in the Pimm’s and Sprite/prosecco, dividing between pitchers, and mix with a long-handled spoon.

Poke mint sprigs and leaves down into drink. Divide drink among 8 tall glasses, with a few slices of fruit and cucumber in each glass, along with some mint leaves.

Vodka Thyme Lemonade

2 cups sugar
12 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 24 lemons)
2 cups vodka

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water with the sugar and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool to room temperature.

Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup; discard thyme. You should have 2 cups of syrup. Cover with plastic and chill.
In a large serving pitcher, stir together lemon juice, vodka, and chilled syrup; garnish with thyme. Divide evenly among eight tumblers filled with ice. Drink and enjoy!

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