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A Refreshing Take on Summer Cocktails

Nothing says summer like a refreshing summer cocktail. On those long, hot summer evenings, a sweet, fruity cocktail is the perfect way to kick back and connect with friends. In fact, hosting a summer cocktail party on the back deck after my little one is asleep is one of my favorite ways to entertain. The only problem is that most fruity cocktails are heavy on sugar and artificial ingredients — two things I avoid in my daily life. So after a trip to the farmer’s market, I got to mixing and developed these three cocktail recipes that are low-sugar, all-natural, and plant-based, not to mention utterly delicious!

Want an added boost of plant-based nutrition in your cocktail? Open up a couple capsules of Juice Plus Fruit Blend or Berry Blend and sprinkle in. Bam. Your cocktail just got a little bit healthier.

Sparkling White Sangria

When it comes to cocktails, you can’t get much more fruity than sangria. The traditional recipe is made with red wine, though, and when the mercury rises, even red wine can feel too heavy. This lighter sangria features white wine — both still and sparkling — to create an even more summery version of the famous Spanish punch. You can use any combination of fruit you want (well, except bananas), but if you skip the raspberries you’ll be missing out.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white wine (for a sweeter sangria, use Riesling or Gewurztraminer; otherwise opt for Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc)
  • 2 cups sparkling white wine
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 2 kiwis, sliced
  • 4 handfuls of raspberries
  • Optional: 2-4 dropperfuls of liquid stevia (about 20-40 drops) for added sweetness

Directions

  • Pour the still and sparkling white wines into a punch bowl
  • Add the fruit
  • Sweeten to taste with liquid stevia
  • Let sit for 8 hours to let the flavors of the fruit completely infuse into the wine

Makes 4 glasses

 

Blackberry Cucumber Cooler

It’s blackberry season in Oregon where I live, and I’ll be taking every opportunity to make all things blackberry, like this lovely Blackberry Cucumber Cooler. Though they may sound like an odd couple, blackberry and cucumber were meant for each other. The intense sweetness of blackberry and the light freshness of cucumber complement one another beautifully. The best thing about this recipe (aside from the blackberries) is that you can make it on the spot; no need to let it sit before serving.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 cup cucumber
  • 40 mint leaves (about 4 sprigs)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) gin
  • ¾ cup club soda
  • ½ cup blackberry honey syrup

Directions

  • To make the blackberry honey syrup, add ½ pound of blackberries to a saucepan with ¼ cup of honey and let simmer on low for 15 minutes
  • Chop the mint
  • Peel and chop the cucumber
  • Muddle the blackberries, chopped cucumber and mint together (You can use a food processor if you don’t have a mortar and pestle)
  • Pour the muddled mixture into a pitcher
  • Add the gin, club soda, and blackberry honey syrup
  • Strain and serve in glasses over a handful of ice
  • Garnish with blackberries

Makes 4 glasses

 

Watermelon Mule

Moscow mules are all the rage right now, and what better way to balance the pungent spiciness of ginger beer than the sweet coolness of watermelon? Since watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit, adding it to this drink that is typically sipped in the winter makes it suddenly summer-worthy. Bonus: If you add the alcohol last, you can make fun drinks for the kids before you serve the grownups.    

Ingredients

  • 4 cups seeded watermelon, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) vodka
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 cups natural ginger beer or ginger ale (I like the stevia-sweetened Zevia brand)

Directions

  • Puree the watermelon in a food processor
  • Pour the pureed watermelon, lime juice, and ginger ale into a pitcher and stir
  • Add the vodka and stir again
  • Serve in glasses over a handful of ice

Makes 4 glasses

 

What’s your favorite summer cocktail recipe?

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