(BPT) - Sweet iced tea and sangria are as much hallmarks of summer as baseball and barbecues. Cocktails are a great way to cool off when temperatures climb, or they can help heat up any celebration. If you're looking to add some fresh excitement to seasonal beverages, spices, spirits and fun presentations can make summer sips shine.
Here are three tricks to help make your summer cocktails unique:
Color your cocktails
Summer is bursting with color, from lush flowers and foliage to brighter hues in clothes and even the rainbow shades of children's ice pops. Let the bounty of colors inspire your summer cocktails.
Create cheer with bright greens by muddling basil or mint in the clear spirit of your choice. Fire up your guests with brilliant reds courtesy of fresh summer tomato juice. Liquefied watermelon makes any cocktail pretty pink, while crushed raspberries or blueberries add a rich, textured appeal.
Spice it up
Whether you want to add a zing of heat to the coolness of a cocktail, or balance the sweetness of a mixed drink, spices and herbs are a great way to layer flavors in beverages. Herbs such as basil and mint are staples for summer cocktails, but experimenting with other spices and seasonings can yield some memorable combinations.
The heat of chipotle salt can be the perfect foil for sweet, fruit-based beverages. Cardamom adds an exotic flare to traditional cocktails like Moscow Mules, while traditional iced tea gets an Asian treatment with the addition of Five Spice Powder.
Try these two spice- and spirit-filled summer cocktails from Simply Organic, producers of premium-quality USDA certified organic spices and seasonings:
Watermelon Margarita with Chipotle Salt Rim
What's cooler than watermelon on a sultry summer afternoon? Kicking up the heat with smoky chipotle salt, that's what!
4 cups frozen watermelon chunks
1/2 cup silver tequila
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 to 4 limes, juiced)
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Simply Organic Chipotle Powder
In a blender, combine watermelon, tequila, lime juice and cane sugar. Blend until smooth.
On a small plate, combine salt and chipotle powder. Wet the rims of the glasses with a piece of watermelon or water, then dip them in chipotle salt. Serve immediately.
Five Spice Iced Tea Cocktail
The classic summer beverage, iced tea gets an Asian-inspired treatment in this recipe.
6 cups water
2 large oranges, quartered, plus more for garnish, sliced
5 black tea bags
1 tablespoon Simply Organic Five Spice Powder
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups Triple Sec
Simply Organic Cinnamon Sticks, for garnish
In a pot over high heat, bring water to a boil. Squeeze juice from oranges into the water, then add squeezed oranges.
Add tea bags, five spice powder and honey. Gently whisk tea and let steep for 10 minutes.
Into a half-gallon pitcher, strain tea through a fine mesh sieve. Add Triple Sec and serve over ice. Garnish with fresh orange slices and cinnamon sticks.
Summer cocktails are all about cool fun, and you can underscore that theme by serving your unique summer sips in creative containers. For example, instead of pouring sangria in a wine glass, try serving it in a clear dessert bowl to show off the bright colors. Plus, the wide bowl will make it easier to access and eat the fruit when the sangria is gone.
Serve your spiced ice tea in mason jars with a lemon slice for garnish. Or, queue up your Cardamom Moscow Mule in a copper mug to give guests the cooling visual effect of condensation on metal.
For more spice-infused summer cocktails, visit http://summer.simplyorganic.com/summer/.