Need a simple, easy drink recipe? These fit the bill—but taste slightly more complex than vodka and lemonade (not that there’s anything wrong with that classic combo either). Courtesy of Prizefighter, these simple cocktails are perfect for patios, balconies, and backyards, or wherever you want to chill out this summer.
Note: This story was originally written in 2012, but Prizefighter is still going strong—and if you’d like to help the employees during the COVID-19 crisis, donate to the Prizefighter relief fund.
At Prizefighter—a bar in Emeryville, California, just over the bridge from San Francisco—the drinks are refreshingly simple. Owners Dylan O’Brien (pictured above) and Jon Santer are mixing the modern equivalent of the highball: just good spirits, fresh juice, and usually no more than three ingredients. In other words, perfect patio cocktails. Here are six of their favorite easy drinks that will leave you more time for an all-day doubleheader, monitoring the temperature gauge on your brisket smoker, or keeping an eye on the kids playing chicken with the lawn sprinkler.
This is one of those drinks that’s deceptively simple, according to O’Brien. The key is to use more mint than you think you need, and to score some pewter julep cups if you can. Lightly muddle the mint in the cup (don’t pound it, or you’ll extract unpleasantly grassy flavors), add 2 ounces of bourbon and lots of crushed ice, and stir until the outside of the cup begins to look frosty. Top off with more ice, and garnish with a big sprig of mint. Add simple syrup if you like.
Mint Julep Cup, $14.96 from Sur La Table
If you like Manhattans, you may like this variation, named after the one-time meatpacking neighborhood where Prizefighter is located. It’s a mix of 2 ounces of high-proof rye whiskey, 3/4 ounce of amontillado sherry, 1/4 ounce of Cointreau, and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
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Make a syrup by dissolving one part wildflower honey in one part water (stirring does the trick). Add 1 ounce of this syrup to an ice-filled shaker along with 2 ounces of a London dry gin (Tanqueray or Beefeater) and 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Drop a thin slice of lemon on top.
This riff on the Old Fashioned calls for 2 ounces of Scotch (a decent blended one with peaty flavor, such as the Black Grouse), 1/4 ounce of pure maple syrup (Grade B, for extra flavor and viscosity), and a couple dashes of angostura bitters, stirred and served over ice. It’s garnished with an orange peel.
Prizefighter’s O’Brien recommends seeking out the Swiss absinthe Kübler, which is clear and lighter in body than the typical green version of this spirit. “It doesn’t blow your palate out,” O’Brien says. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of Kübler into a collins glass, fill with ice and soda water, and add a twist of lemon.
Kubler Absinthe, price & availability varies on Saucey
Related Reading: Summer Spritz Recipes for All-Day Drinking
Created by New York bartender Willy Shine, the 212 displays its formula in its name: two parts 100-percent-agave tequila reposado, one part Aperol (a Campari-like apéritif), and two parts freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Mix in a collins glass, fill with ice, and zest grapefruit peel over the top.
Header image by Chowhound.