Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Bar Ideas I

The summer heat will be here soon, and that means it’s time to refresh the repertoire of summer beverages.  We need all kinds of beverages for all kinds of reasons in summer: flat waters for hydration though they need not be boring;  fizzy and fruity drinks are fun and great; I love to serve French & Italian apéritifs, as well as wine and classic cocktails.   I am taking inspiration from the awesome Gaston Lenôtre book that my friend L gave me, and so today I set up two batches of infused rosé wine; one with raspberries and one with blackberries; I’ll write out both recipes in the next part of this series; this post is for the setup and a few other ideas.

Summer berries are a great way to infuse wine and vodka or flavor waters.  The berry flavors are especially refreshing in summer, when the berries themselves are plentiful; they are wonderful ice cold.  Today I started with the wine. 


I began with 12 ounces each of raspberries and blackberries; the recipe calls for a pound, so I’m a little short, but I’m going to go with this quantity, which is a large vintage basket of each~


The wine is from Trader Joe’s and is a classic Côtes de Provence rosé. $6.  About half of Provence’s wine is rosé; it’s perfect in summer, great with the Provencal and summer cuisines not to mention pretty in a glass.  Absolutely correct to serve in the heat of summer anywhere in the United States.  Look for this one! 


The rosé wine pairs very well with berries of any kind.  It’s a dry wine, with a little bite from the red grape skins that are used to color it. And so it works well as an apéritif, which is supposed to be somewhat dry rather than sweet, to stimulate the appetite, though as always, there are exceptions to the rule.  These bottles are all numbered, a nice addition; I love the color of the wine against the variations of the blackberry and the tomato leaves which I selected from the plants at the kitchen door...


To make an infused wine, you will need to let the berries macerate in the wine with a little sugar overnight.  Place the berries in a bowl, and add 3/4 cup of sugar~


Then add enough wine to cover the berries.  Cork the remaining wine in the bottle and put it in the refrigerator.


Do the same with raspberries; I split the berries between two bowls.  Pour enough wine on top just to cover the berries~


I made a little stack of four bowl and plates; into the refrigerator they go! The wine and sugar will draw the flavor and color out of the berries.


But what I really wanted to show you is the wine bottle itself.  It’s clear, and in the distinctive shape of Côtes de Provence.  It’s a feminine and interesting bottle.   Wines such as many in Burgundy are made to sit in a humid cellar for quite a few years, and so the Burgundy labels are difficult to remove, trust me.  The Provencal wine on the other hand is good to drink young, and  happily the labels will remove easily with a little soap and water.  Remove the plastic wrapper around the neck as well. 


The empty bottles make great containers for flavored waters.  This is simple filtered water over a ribbon of lemon zest; if you want a stronger flavor, pour boiling water over lemon or orange rind, or over herbs such as mint, just enough water to cover the herbs.  Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then top off with filtered water.   Add Perrier or other sparkling waters that are very chilled for a bubbly version.   I also think this will be great for cucumber water as well as mint and strawberry.


Rather than use the more rustic burlap and a cork to close this bottle, I used a scrap of old white linen.  Wrap it around the bottom of the cork and then use the cork to seal the bottle. 


And for a little extra, I added some twine and a sprig of Madagascar Jasmine~


This makes a pretty presentation; try mint leaves or rosemary or whatever else you have on hand.  I especially love the combination of yellow, green and white.  It’s fresh and pretty for summer.


It would be fun to bring three or four bottles for a hostess gift if someone’s having a summer party.  I’d bring them in a little French caddy.


They would be equally nice in a large bucket, bobbing in a sea of ice and so very cold on a hot summer day.  Ice cold and frosty like this, with a hint of refreshing lemon from our tree~


I want to smell the flowers and touch the linen on bottles dressed up like this.   How about you?  Not to mention, I love to serve like this~

IMG_0375 - Copy

I have spent a good part of this weekend brainstorming with Nicole about her wedding.  There is so much excess and fuss; and yet, parties all come down to the details.  I prefer the simple and natural.  I’d love to go to a summer wedding or party that served something very cold in pretty bottles like this. 

Next I’ll show you how to finish the Blackberry and Raspberry Wines.


  1. Such a lovely post and wonder directions!! I love the idea for hostess gifts. I know just who will appreciate them. Thanks for this.

  2. That is a fabulous idea with the lemons.
    I have been trying to buy mint plants for the summer.
    No one has mint?

  3. Andrea this is simply beautiful! Your ideas for summer refreshments are as original as all you create!I This has been a crazy family filed weekend! Wonderful though exhausting!

    Art by Karena
    Giveaway from Splendid Sass!

  4. I love this idea with the Rose' perfect for a Summer afternoon or evening on the porch swing! still! my heart! The cork with linen wrap!...brilliant, beautiful and such casual elegance!

    I hope that you will be back on track for Beaune soon, dear Andrea!

  5. Beautiful! And very lovely photography! I will try a bottle next time I am at Trader Joe's.

  6. Love these ideas for flavored water and what great way to use my wine carriers...
    SKYPE is working...try to call. We go to Provence on the 25th but back on the 29th/30th. will go to the market in St. Remy...need anything???? Please stay for a while...The weather is perfect and the vines are finally growing like carzy...Patty in Beaune...

  7. I love this!!!!
    Just dug out a wonderful old French wire bottle carrier.
    I will definitely be doing the lemon ribbon waters!
    You are so creative!
    Thank you for never ending inspiration my friend.

  8. Greetings from sultry Virginia where this concoction would be perfect while sitting on the porch in a rocking chair. :)

  9. The shape of the bottle caught my eye immediately!! Thank you for the lovely idea to re-use it. I still have a few lemons from our tree and mint is plentiful in my yard! This beautiful wine is on the list for my next visit to TJ' could be today!!

    June :)

  10. I am making this this weekend. Berries are perfect for summer.