If last week’s top five column listed five great bars in the land, this week’s column needed to be a primer of sorts on what to drink on the hottest of days — or nights — during this early onset of summer.

We’ve been looking for some fresh ideas in the drinks department, how to take base spirits and modify them with flavors that are seasonal, available and not too complicated. There’s also a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, utilizing spirits that are relatively inexpensive in these parts as well as the fruits — tomatoes are not vegetables — that speak to that summer spirit and vibe. So choose one, mix it up, and drink it on your balcony, backyard, front stoop or if necessary, while looking out the window. The key is to stop and take a few moments to appreciate the summer season.

1) Eat a Peach: We don’t live in South Carolina, but we have got peaches, and I’m planning on making this with some of the frozen peaches sitting in my freezer.

Carolina Peach Bellinis, serves 1

  • 1 bottle Prosecco (or any sparkling white wine)
  • 2 ripe peaches
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 peach slice for garnish

1. Peel the peaches, and use a food processor or blender to liquefy them. Stir in sugar and lemon juice.

2. Put 2 tablespoons of the peach mixture into the bottom of a champagne glass (or any glass you like) and fill with Prosecco. Garnish with a slice of peach.

Cold and refreshing watermelon (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

Cold and refreshing watermelon (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

2) See That Watermelon: You could use any summer berry for this recipe, but given the astronomic prices of berries in this country, it’s probably best to stick with melon, and watermelon is so easy to come by, with plenty of skilled handlers ready to pick a sweet one.

Fruity Basils, serves 1

  • 8 basil leaves
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ cup chopped watermelon
  • 1 1/2 oz rum
  • Garnish with basil

1. Muddle (mixing ingredients with a mashing stick, usually wooden, thin and narrow, for mashing ingredients into the bottom of the glass) basil, mint, sugar, and lime juice in the base of a shaker glass. If it’s still too thick, blend it in a blender.

2. Add watermelon and continue to muddle. Add rum and ice and shake. Fill medium height glass with ice and add muddled rum mixture into the glass. Garnish with more mint.

A bushel and a peck (photo credit: Oren Fixler/Flash 90)

A bushel and a peck (photo credit: Oren Fixler/Flash 90)

3) I Like Apples: Organic eatery Loveat in Tel Aviv is plying customers with a variety of slushy fruit drinks, including melon-and-ginger, watermelon-and-mint, and apple-cinnamon, which was sweet and refreshing.

Apple Granita, serves 1

  • 1 apple, preferably Granny Smith
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup crushed ice

1. Blend apple in blender or food processor, making sure it’s completely mashed. Add ginger and cinnamon, then ice and blend until smooth.

A melon market (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

A melon market (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

4) Honeydew drops: Given the availability of honeydew — the slightly less sweet, apple green melons — that proliferate over the course of the summer, it’s only fair to find a drink that makes good use of honeydew, and is an easy non-alcoholic alternative.

 

Honeydew Agua Fresca, serves 10 (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

  • 14 cups honeydew melon or cantaloupe
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar (if you can’t find, just food process regular sugar)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • Ice
  • 2 cups raspberries (nice finishing touch, but not absolutely necessary)
  • Add some sparkling white wine if you want a touch of alcohol

1. Puree melon until smooth in blender or food processor. Pour melon puree through sieve or mesh strainer, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula (you should have about 4 cups juice.

2. In a small bowl, combine superfine sugar and fresh lime juice; stir until sugar dissolves. Add lime mixture and 4 cups water to melon juice and mix well. Adjust sweetness with more sugar if desired. (Mixture can be refrigerated, up to 2 days.) To serve, add plenty of ice and 2 cups raspberries.

The more common red variety works fine as well (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90)

The more common red variety works fine as well (photo credit: Shay Levy/Flash 90)

5) Tomato, Tohmato: It’s been mentioned that regular tomatoes are fairly pricey right now, but cherry tomatoes are still holding strong, and there are some wonderful varieties available as well, including the black cherry tomato, which has an eggplant-y purple shade to it. It’s easy to buy a kilo and have a bunch left for these frozen Bloody Marys.

Frozen Bloody Marys, serves 4 (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

  • 4 cups frozen cherry tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup chilled vodka (optional)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes/lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Celery stalks (or spring onions), for garnish
  1. Place frozen cherry tomatoes, vodka, lime juice, horseradish, and hot sauce in the jar of a blender; season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth but very thick. Divide among chilled glasses, and garnish with celery stalks and cherry tomatoes. Serve immediately.