Summer on the Rocks

Written by marie horrigan
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Cocktails to Keep You Cool

Summer on the Rocks
Jason Littrell prepares the Behind God’s Back cocktail (Keith Wagstaff)

The key to a refreshing summer drink? “Fresh squeezed everything.”

— N.Y. bartender Jason Littrell

Everyone loves a sip of something cool during the dog days of summer – even if you’re far away from a tropical locale or a breezy resort. The key to a refreshing drink? “Fresh squeezed everything,” said Jason Littrell, a bartender at DRAM, a cocktail and tiki bar in Brooklyn, N.Y. These drinks are new twists on classic recipes created before the advent of high-fructose corn syrup and bar-guns loaded with soft drinks and sweet-and-sour-mix. The preservatives and chemical additives in packaged juice can wreck the characteristics of a cocktail. Whether you need pineapple, lemon or lime juice or even veggies, it all tastes better when you press it yourself. “If you want to have something that is really good, it has to be fresh,” Littrell said. “We fresh squeeze everything every day; it’s absolutely imperative.” Take a lead from high-end bars and get your hands ready for some squeezing to make one of these summer cocktails today.

The Eastside

Summer on the Rocks
(Keith Wagstaff)

The Eastside is all about summertime veggies and herbs (cucumber and mint). It’s a “go-to drink for New York bartenders,” Littrell says.


*A pinch of mint

*3 slices cucumber

*29.6ml. lime juice

*21.3gr. simple syrup

*56.7gr. London Dry gin (such as Plymouth)

In a glass, muddle (mash together) the cucumber slices. Add the lime juice, simple syrup and gin. Gently rub the mint between your fingers to release its oils. Top the drink with the pinch of mint, Littrell said, and “you’ve got serendipity.”

Variations: For a “Southside” cocktail, skip the cucumber. Without the cucumber or mint, you’re looking at a standard Gin Gimlet.

Behind God’s Back

Summer on the Rocks
(Keith Wagstaff)

Behind God’s Back is a common saying in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. It refers to something far away that you don’t want God to know about. You may not want God to know about this drink, but you’ll be glad you do.


*29.6ml. lime juice

*7.09gr. cane syrup

*7.39ml. cinnamon syrup

*7.39ml. orgeat (almond syrup)

*56.7gr. St. Lucia rum (such as Chairman’s Reserve)

*Angostura and Peychaud bitters


Combine lime juice, syrups and rum in a glass and mix the ingredients by rubbing a glass swizzle stick or spoon between your hands “like you are making a fire”. Add two dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud bitters. Top with crushed ice and garnish with a “lavish amount of mint,” Littrell said, to create a beautiful drink.

A Straight Daiquiri

Summer on the Rocks
(Keith Wagstaff)

Most people don’t understand a true daiquiri, imagining you need a special machine at home to make a slushy drink. But, Littrell said, it is “one of the oldest drinks in the book … one of those drinks that bartenders judge other bartenders by.”


*22.2ml. lime juice

*14.8ml. simple syrup

*56.7gr. Caribbean rum (such as Ron del Barrilito)

This is Littrell’s version of the classic. Mix it up, serve it over crushed ice, and enjoy. Or, for a variation try Littrell’s Difford Daiquiri: Cut the simple syrup by half and add a quarter ounce of maraschino liqueur (such as Luxardo Maraschino).

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