Hot days, cool drinks

Think outside the margarita for your next backyard soiree

Think outside the margarita for your next backyard soiree

May 09, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Today's warm-weather drink of choice is anything that ends with "tini."

"Nowadays, you can put anything in a martini glass and call it a martini," said longtime bartender Nick Nicklas, 33, of Hagerstown, who works for a Hagerstown-based mobile bar service called Bartender To Go.

Before, gin and tonic was about the only exception to beer and brown liquor - what used to be the drinks of choice. When he started bartending 15 years ago, ordering a martini meant ordering something dry with gin or vodka, vermouth and olives, Nicklas said.

Now, thanks to evolving tastes and the cosmopolitan-drinking ladies of "Sex in the City," local imbibers are going for fruitier beverages.


"Twenty years ago, things weren't so metropolitan. People pretty much drank brown liquor - a Seven and seven, and Jack (Daniels) - or beer all year-round," said Stephanie Henneberger, owner of Bartender To Go. Henneberger worked as a bartender at the Venice Inn in Hagerstown for 20 years before opening the mobile bar business eight years ago.

Now, "people want something creative, fruity," she said.

Drinks such as the Pomegranate Martini and Nicklas' own Watermelon Mint Martini are frequently requested drinks, Nicklas said.

For the Watermelon Mint Martini, Nicklas dissolves 17 watermelon Jolly Ranchers in a bowl of vodka and mint leaves. After he strains out the mint, he pours the flavored vodka back into its original bottle with the remainder of the vodka to dilute. He then serves the beverage in a martini glass.

Nicklas said he's made up at least 30 drink recipes but prefers to drink Belgian beers during the summertime.

"It isn't all about martinis," Nicklas said.

In fact,, an online database with 6,211 drink recipes, lists the Cream Fizz - a cocktail with gin, lemon and cream - as its most reviewed drink.

One of the site's most popular cocktails is the mojito (pronounced mo-HEE-toe), the Cuban cocktail that calls for a combination of mint, sugar, rum and lime juice.

One warning: Mojito-making is not for the impatient drinker. Real-deal mojitos, Nicklas said, require that the server grind up mint leaves and sugar at the bottom of a glass before adding rum and lime.

If done poorly, mojitos taste like warm mouthwash. A mojito done properly tastes like limeade with a hint of mint and rum.

"The effort is definitely worth it," Nicklas said.

Watermelon Mint Martini

Bottle of vodka, 1/5 gallon size
17 watermelon Jolly Ranchers
Handful of coarsely crushed mint leaves
Sour mix

Pour 5 ounces of vodka into a dish, and add Jolly Ranchers and mint. Let the mixture sit overnight or until Jolly Ranchers have dissolved. Strain the mint and pour the flavored vodka back into its original bottle with the remaining vodka to dilute.

Place into a martini shaker ice, and three parts vodka to one part sour mix, and shake well. Pour through strainer into martini glass and garnish with a whole mint leaf.

- Courtesy of Nick Nicklas, bartender with Bartender To Go, a mobile bar service in Hagerstown


Handful of mint leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ounces rum
Soda water
1/4 lime

In the bottom of a rocks glass, mash together the mint leaves and sugar with a spoon. Fill the glass with ice. Add the rum. Fill the remainder of the glass with soda water. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir with a straw before serving.

- Courtesy of Nick Nicklas

Pomegranate Martini

4 ounces pomegranate liqueur
Soda water

Shake pomegranate liqueur in martini shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass and fill remainder of glass with soda water.

- Courtesy of Nick Nicklas

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