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Summer 2011 Host’s Guide: Fête Champêtre: Cocktails

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Assembling the ingredients for a freshly made artisanal drink can be a challenge, but Francesco Lafranconi argues for acquiring those hard-to-find liquors and liqueurs.

“You’re investing in your bar. If these liquors are properly stored, they won’t diminish in quality at all,” he says. In fact, most specialty items are used in such small quantities that one bottle will last well, says Lafranconi, who avoids heavy pours when pairing.

“When it comes to food, I like the cocktail to be a little lighter than the cocktail you would get in a bar,” he says, pointing to the Saveurs de L’été, which he created especially for the whipped goat cheese with honey and walnut bread—a perfect prelude to the dessert course’s partner, the Peach and Berry Smash.

Saveurs de L’été (Summer’s Flavors) serve with the cheese course

1 oz. Lillet Blanc

½ oz. St.-Germain elderflower liqueur

3 oz. Riesling

1 oz. club soda

Lemon peel

4 apricot slices, cut thin, for garnish

1 raspberry, for garnish

Pour Lillet Blanc, elderflower liqueur, Riesling, and club soda over ice into a white-wine glass and stir gently. Twist lemon peel over top to release oils and discard. Garnish with apricot and raspberry.

Peach and Berry Smash serve with dessert

4 fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish

1 sprig fresh lemon verbena, plus more for garnish

1½ oz. aged rum

½ oz. peach liqueur

½ oz. ginger liqueur

1½ oz. fresh lemon juice sweetened with ¾ oz. agave nectar

Muddle blackberries and lemon verbena in a shaker. Add rum, peach and ginger liqueurs, lemon juice, and 2 cups ice. Shake vigorously for a few seconds, then double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh berries and lemon verbena. (Note: Liquors, but not lemon juice, can be mixed ahead of time.)