When I think of summer cocktails, I am immediately drawn to thoughts of spicy margaritas and palomas served out on a patio. For this cocktail, I wanted to add a twist by swapping out the tequila for a severely under-appreciated substitute: Pisco. Distilled from fermented grape juice in countries such as Peru and Chile, Pisco has a very similar, albeit more mellow, flavor-profile to products made with agave, which makes it the perfect base spirit for this poolside sipper.
The mezcal provides a bit of smokiness and depth, and the cocktail is rounded out by the various uses of oranges: both in the shrub alongside the lime juice, and as a freshly squeezed topper. Of course, I would be remiss to not include a bit of heat and sweetness, so adding the habanero simple syrup allows for both of those. Whether you’re at the lake, staying home, or just looking for a way to replicate those feelings of the hot summer sun, this cocktail has you covered.
Eric Bryda is the former bar manager and current mixology consultant of Pressed in downtown Columbia.
Summer Heat Cocktail
- 1 ½ ounces Pisco
- ¼ ounce Mezcal
- ½ ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce orange-sage shrub
- ½ ounce habanero simple syrup
- Splash of freshly-squeezed orange juice
Mix ½ cup of granulated sugar with ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and let sit over high heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Once boiling, add a fully sliced orange (with the rind) and a handful of sage to the mixture and reduce heat to simmer. Let the shrub sit for approximately 30 minutes over heat, then let cool. Repeat the low-heating process until both the orange and sage flavors have balanced out with the vinegar.
Habanero simple syrup:
Mix ½ cup of granulated sugar with ½ cup of water and let sit over high heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Once boiling, add two or three sliced habanero peppers to the mixture; let sit over high heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, then let cool. If necessary, adjust peppers, sugar, or water to taste.
Combine all ingredients, except for the orange juice, into a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass; add salt to the rim of the glass if desired. Top with the orange juice and enjoy!