Of all the nice things about summer produce, one of the nicest has to be the pleasure of fresh fruit in your cocktails. Or spiked soda, which is really kind of what you have here. Either way, don't even think about turning on the stove to make a custom syrup. Hot days call for breezy, tall, cool ones, and not too much sauce. Thank heavens for ginger beer.
But probably not the ginger beer up in that shot. It wasn't until the second bottle of the pack was on its way to the recycling bin that I caught the giant list of ingredients on the front label announcing its non-vegan nature. Never stop reading labels, apparently.
To complement the spicy ginger beer, sweet dark cherries and fresh mint pair with a little lime and sugar to stand up to a swim with a serving of golden tequila. It makes for a seriously festive-looking drink begging to be handed to a friend.
Ginger-Cherry-Mint Tequila Smash
2 sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted (plus another whole, for garnish, optional)
2 medium mint leaves (about 2 inches in length each)
1 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/2 oz lime juice
2 oz tequila anejo
6 oz ginger beer
In the bottom of a Collins glass, muddle the cherries and mint until the cherries are pulpy and the mint is well bruised, but mostly intact. (Alternately, use a mortar and pestle and transfer the mix to a glass. You'll lose a touch of flavor, but that's life.)
In a small bowl, stir the sugar and lime juice until the sugar is dissolved. Fill the serving glass three-quarters full with ice. Add the sweetened lime juice, then pour in tequila. Top with ginger beer, stir, and garnish with a cherry, if desired.