Whether you’re celebrating the sunshine or trying to keep cool, we’re here to help with a list of favorite summer drink recipes, each with an eco-conscious twist.
Truth be told, it can be pretty tough to concoct an environmentally friendly cocktail using locally grown and organic ingredients. But that won’t stop us from trying. Assuming you don’t distill your own hooch (which would probably make you the ultimate greenie), we tracked down companies and brands that make organic and fair trade alcohol beverages.
When it comes to buying local, wine is the most widely available spirit. And for organic fruit and other ingredients, consider what naturally grows near you — berries and melons in temperate latitudes and citrus in tropical and subtropical climes. Adapt recipes to what’s seasonal and local, and drink in the summer sun.
White wine sangria
- 1 bottle of white wine (Sauvignon Blanc from California’s Frog’s Leap Winery; Riesling from Washington’s Badger Mountain; Chardonnay from Oregon’s Willamette Valley Vineyards)
- 2 shots rum (Matraga or Utkins)
- 1 peach, cut into wedges
- 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
- 1 nectarine, cut into wedges
- ½ cup lemonade (for pre-made organic, Purity’s or Calories in 365)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup ginger ale or soda water
Combine wine, rum, fruit, and lemonade in a large pitcher. Chill overnight and right before serving, add ice and ginger ale or soda water. Serve in wine glasses.
Serves: A group
- Large watermelon
- Vodka (Purus, Square One, Vodka 14, 360, TRU)
At one end of the melon, cut a notch large enough to insert the cooking funnel. Pour vodka into the funnel until the melon can’t absorb any more. Repeat over the next day or two, while refrigerating the melon. (If you’re in a hurry, perforate the outside of the melon a few times with a small knife, pushing it to the handle, to help it absorb the vodka faster.) Slice into pieces and enjoy.
Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy that derives its name from the word “pisqu” (Quechua for “little bird”), is grown in Chile as well, but Peruvians swear theirs is the real deal.
- ¼ cup pisco (La Caravedo)
- 1 tbs. sugar
- 1 tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp. fresh pasteurized egg whites
Whirl three ice cubes, pisco, sugar, fresh lime juice, and egg whites in a blender until smooth. Serve straight up in a martini glass with a dash of aromatic bitters and a wedge of lime.
- 3-4 watermelon cubes, de-seeded
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 4 oz of vodka (Purus, Square One, Vodka 14, 360, TRU)
Muddle the watermelon cubes and sugar in a shaker until mixture is juiced. Add ice and vodka, then cover and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into chilled martini glass.
Joie de VeeV
Açai is the new pomegranate. This little blue berry from Brazil is packed with antioxidants and has made its way into sorbets, teas, energy drinks, and now a liquor called VeeV. A little sweeter than vodka, the 60-proof liquor is infused with açai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) berries that grow on the top of palm trees. The company donates $1 from every bottle sold to Sambazon’s Sustainable Açai project, which helps protect and replenish Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.
- 2 oz VeeV
- 3 mint sprigs
- 2 strawberries
- 2 lime wedges
- ginger ale
Muddle the slices of lime, strawberries, and mint sprigs in a mixing glass. Add VeeV and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour into a glass and top with ginger ale.
- 5-8 mint leaves
- 3 strawberries, halved
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 3 oz. lime juice
- 3 oz white rum (Matraga or Utkins)
- Sprite or club soda
Muddle mint, strawberries, and sugar in a shaker until very finely mashed. Add ice, rum, and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and then pour mixture into 8 oz. glass. Top off with splash of Sprite or club soda.
For a nostalgic, deconstructed take on a classic, try a recipe by Emeril Lagasse.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila (4 Copas)
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (Dwersteg Distillery)
- Lime wedge
- Salt, for garnish
- 4 small freezer-safe cups, 4 popsicle sticks/handles, tinfoil
Combine sugar, lime juice, water, lemon juice and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a blender, combine cooled mixture with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime wedge and blend until smooth. Pour into the cups and cover the top of each cup with foil. Place the popsicle stick in center of cup (down through foil, which will hold it in place).
Freeze until hard, preferably overnight. Remove from freezer and run cup under warm water to loosen popsicle. Garnish with salt and serve.
Fat Tire beer
No matter how delicious the cocktails atop the drinks table may be, chances are a few friends at your barbeque will look to the ground for the beer cooler. For these folks, we suggest stocking up on brewskies from a company that’s as concerned with the quality of its product as it is with its environmental footprint: the New Belgium Brewing Company.
Its energy efficient brewing process and the incorporation of green design into its building are notable, but what’s really impressive is that the company produces some of its own electricity onsite. The methane produced through its wastewater treatment process is used to fuel a combine heat and power engine that creates electricity and heat.
The company just tallied the lifecycle greenhouse emissions of a six-pack of Fat Tire, an amber ale with toasty malt flavors balanced with hoppy freshness. It found the sixer is responsible for 4,982.1 grams of CO2 equivalents—35% percent less than that of a comparable product—making it eligible to bear a Climate Conscious Silver label. (By the way, 54% of those total emissions come from electricity used for refrigeration at retail stores.)
Story by Plenty editors. This article originally appeared in Plenty magazine in June 2008 and now resides on MNN.com Copyright Environ Press 2008