Summer is in full swing, which means endless hours of outdoor gatherings maxing and relaxing with family and friends. And whether it’s a backyard BBQ or a pool/patio party, chances are these gatherings will involve icy, cool (and most likely alcoholic) beverages as a way to beat the heat and get into the spirit of the warm summer season.
An ice cold brew, a colorful cocktail, a refreshing spritzer—summer drinks come in all shapes, sizes, and iterations. But one thing is abundantly clear: summer is for sippers.
What are sippers, you may ask?
Sippers are almost like the 21st century version of the punch I vividly remember seeing at practically every one of my family gatherings as a child: a fruity concoction consisting of fresh fruit , cheap wine, fruit juice, lemon-lime soda, and, somewhat inexplicably, orange sherbet (who knows what they were up to in the ‘80s?) I, of course, was not allowed to partake; and had to content myself with the alcohol-free version which was, of course, sugar-laden, super delish, and without a doubt, Hawaiian Punch based.
Looking back, I suppose these party punches were sangria-esque concoctions long before sangria became a true mainstay on restaurant and bar menus everywhere; they were also an easy breezy way for large groups of people to enjoy sipping all day long. Low ABV, no recipe needed—just a refreshingly simple (and customizable) recipe that only takes mere minutes to make, but can be enjoyed for hours.
So what’s the summer 2022 version of the 1980s punch bowl? To start, unless you’re whipping up a batch of sippers for a large party, there’s no need to opt for a super-sized batch of punch, per se (there’s something kind of gross about community punch bowls anyway). Here, the only thing needed to concoct a creative batch of sippers is a little ingenuity and a lot of flavor inspiration. And the good news is, if you are having a party, you can adapt it to a larger crowd.
Campari. Delightfully bitter with a hit of citrus and a bright bold color that just screams summer, Campari is a good low ABV starting point for any summer sipper.
Dry Vermouth. A martini staple and cocktail helper since the 19th century, here, dry vermouth acts as a necessary counterpoint to the Campari, adding a passing hint of sweetness. And, if you’ve never had a cocktail that’s vermouth-based (either dry or sweet), you’re definitely missing out (but that’s a story for another day).
Sparkling Rosé. Don’t sweat the quality of your sparkling rosé, it’s only invited to the party because it brings sweetness, bubbles, and a pretty pink hue.
Assorted Fresh Herbs. It’s summer, so you’ll no doubt have a ton of fresh herbs on hand—dealer’s choice here, just be sure to stay away from things like parsley, cilantro, and dill. Think earthy and bright basics: here, I used mint, purple sage, rosemary, and lemon thyme.
Lime. Citrus is a must-have for most sippers, end of story.
Seltzer/Club Soda/Sparkling Water. I used unflavored, but feel free to substitute your fave flavor, as long as it’s not too sweet. It’s really only here for the extra bubbles.
Pink Grapefruit Juice. This may seem like an excess of bitterness in addition to the Campari, but have no fear, it works well with the other flavors and pulls its weight, flavor-wise.
This sipper iteration makes four healthy-sized beverages (my partner and I are each having two—it’s been a long week), but feel free to adapt it if you have a larger party. One of the best things about this sipper is it’s low-stress like the punches of old, so don’t worry about getting the measurements exactly right.
- 4 oz Campari
- 4 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1 1/2 c pink grapefruit juice
- 1 Lime cut into thin slices for the chilling (see below) and wedges for serving
- Assorted Herbs
- Club Soda
- Sparkling Rosé
- Combine the Campari, dry vermouth, grapefruit juice, assorted herbs, and thinly sliced limes in a large mason jar (or pitcher, depending on how much you’re making). Place in the fridge for anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on how much time you have. This will give everything a chance to get to know each other a little better and chill out in the nice, cold fridge (jealous!) All this chilling will make for a better cocktail, trust me.
- A few minutes before serving, remove the chilled pitcher from the fridge and pour through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the herbs.
- Now for the assembly. This step is dependent on how many people are sipping, and also how big you want the drinks to be. Because this is a relatively low ABV sipper, you can make ‘em small for optimum (and prolonged) sipping; or you can get jiggy with it and make two big ones like I did here—it is summer, after all! Note: For our drinks I used tall glasses with plenty of ice, filled about 1/2 full of the chilled Campari mix, then topped with a healthy pour of rosé, topped with seltzer
- Top with a healthy pour of sparkling rosé and a bit of club soda, and give the whole thing a good stir.
- Garnish with lime and adjourn to the patio for some serious summer sipping.
Lisa is a freelance writer, book reviewer, and (very) amateur photographer. In her spare time she likes to read, write, bake, cook, cook, watch U.K dramas/police procedurals and panel shows, and have her heart broken by the Philadelphia Phillies (during baseball season, of course). Though she generally avoids social media, you can sometimes find her on Twitter and Instagram @dolphy_jane.