5 Simple Summer Cocktails

Kick off the season with five refreshing summer cocktail recipes perfect for sipping poolside or on your restaurant’s patio. You can expect many of your guests to request outdoor seating this summer, so why not make a new cocktail menu to celebrate the return of warm weather?

Our simple summer cocktails blend a variety of fresh herbs and fruits with boozy favorites like gin, vodka, tequila, and wine for the ultimate blend of summery flavors. From caipirinhas to sangria, these five drinks of summer are crowd pleasers that will help boost your alcohol sales. Keep reading for recipes and directions!



1. Caipirinha

Introduce your guests to the national drink of Brazil, the caipirinha! A perfect summer cocktail, the caipirinha (pronounced kai-purr-reen-yah) is the South American version of a mojito. The key ingredients to a Caipirinha include fresh, muddled lime and the Brazilian spirit, cachaca. This easy-to-make mixed drink is tart and sweet, a refreshing combination for your summer menu.

Caipirinha

Caipirinha Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1/2 quartered lime
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. Cachaca

Directions

  1. Muddle the lime quarters in a rocks glass.
  2. Add sugar, ice, and Cachaca.
  3. Stir and serve!


2. Apple Mojito

Mojitos are a popular drink you'll find on almost any summer cocktail list, so try something creative with this twist on the Cuban mixed drink. Our version includes vodka and apple juice in place of the rum and lime juice in a traditional mojito recipe.

Applejito

Apple Mojito Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Apple slices for garnish

Directions

  1. Muddle the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add simple syrup, vodka, and apple juice.
  3. Shake and pour the cocktail into a highball glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with mint and apple slice.


3. Gin Basil Smash

In this summer cocktail, bright green basil leaves are muddled to release an herbal flavor that blends well with freshly squeezed lemon juice and gin. Using fresh herbs in your cocktails provides a unique, refreshing flavor profile that's perfect for summery mixed drinks.

Gin Basil Smash

Gin Basil Smash Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 4 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • 10 basil leaves

Directions

  1. Add basil leaves, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Gently muddle the ingredients.
  3. Add gin and shake.
  4. Pour the cocktail into a rocks glass over ice.
  5. Garnish with basil leaves and lemon twist.


4. Mexican Mai Tai

Just like a classic Mai Tai recipe, this summer cocktail includes an almond-flavored syrup called orgeat (pronounced or-zhaat). We added a Mexican flair by replacing the rum with tequila and adding a salted rim. The result is a perfect summer mixed drink that combines the refreshing tartness of a margarita with the sweetness of a tropical tiki cocktail.

Mexican Mai Tai

Mexican Mai Tai Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila
  • 1/2 oz. orange curacao
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • Rimming salt

Directions

  1. Pour the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake them thoroughly.
  2. Rim a margarita glass with salt.
  3. Shake the cocktail and pour it into the glass over ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime slice.


5. Peach Mango Summer Sangria

Invite your guests to enjoy warm, summer evenings on your restaurant's patio with pitchers of our peach mango sangria! This sangria recipe is easy to prepare and can be sold by the pitcher for an upselling opportunity. Use ripe summer fruits like peaches and mangos combined with Grand Marnier for a summer cocktail that's perfect for serving a crowd.

Peach Mango Sangria

Peach Mango Summer Sangria Ingredients

Yield: 1 pitcher

  • 1 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bottle white or blush wine
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 peaches, sliced
  • 1 cup seltzer water (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour all ingredients into a large pitcher.
  2. Stir and serve in stemless wine glasses over ice.



Liven up your summer cocktail menu with our five drinks of summer! Easy to prepare, our summer drink recipes are crowd favorites that will help you boost your alcohol sales and make the most of the outdoor dining experience.

Posted in: Recipes | Seasonal | Bars & Breweries | By Nora Fulmer

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What is Matcha?

Matcha is a powder made from ground-up green tea leaves and is often brewed into tea. The practice of brewing matcha tea is Japanese in origin and the word matcha means “ground tea” in the Japanese language. The powder is whisked into hot water to form an earthy tea often enjoyed in Japanese tea ceremonies, but interest and consumption of matcha is now increasing around the world. You can now commonly find matcha options, from lattes to desserts, in various coffee shops and bakeries. Keep reading to learn about matcha tea and if you should add it to your menu when starting your coffee shop.

Shop All Matcha Tea Supplies

If you are looking to make matcha tea, click the link below to jump to the instructions:

How Is Matcha Made?

Matcha Leaves

Matcha powder is made by stone grinding specialty green tea leaves into a fine green powder that is vibrant green in color. This powder is then used to make matcha tea. Because the tea leaves are consumed while drinking matcha tea, they need to be grown and picked following very particular specifications. These are the steps that green tea farmers need to take to grow green tea leaves for matcha:

  • The green tea bushes must be shaded from the sun and light must be filtered to force the leaves to produce more chlorophyll in each leaf, providing a rich green color and a boost in nutrients.
  • The newest spring buds and leaves are hand picked and the stems are removed.
  • The leaves need to be steamed within a few hours of picking to prevent oxidation and to bring out the green color.
  • The leaves must be allowed to dry in a cool location.
  • Once dry, the leaves are slowly stone-ground into a fine powder for matcha tea.

Matcha Tea Benefits

Matcha has joined the ranks of popular cafe and coffee trends around the world because of its appealing health benefits. Here are just some matcha health benefits to consider:

  • It is packed with catechin and polyphenol antioxidants that are thought to offer protection against heart disease, improve blood sugar circulation, and reduce blood pressure.
  • It is high in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which may have cancer-fighting effects, while also boosting metabolism to help the body burn fat, fight off cold and flu viruses, and recover from muscle soreness.
  • It features a high level of chlorophyll that can help cleanse the digestive tract and neutralize bad breath.
  • It offers a dose of daily fibers that can prevent insulin spikes and slow down type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • It is rich in L-theanine that provides a calming effect.
  • It contains caffeine to provide a boost of energy and alertness.

Although matcha is associated with various health benefits, there are still a limited number of experiments and research available to prove causation.

Caffeine in Matcha

Matcha powder and matcha tea in a bowl

With the increasing popularity of matcha, it is not surprising that coffee connoisseurs often ask “how much caffeine is in matcha?” Compared to other common caffeine sources, matcha tea typically has more caffeine than green tea but less caffeine than coffee. Here's how matcha caffeine levels compare in an 8 ounce beverage:

  • Green Tea 20-40 mg
  • Black Tea 35-60 mg
  • Matcha 40-75 mg
  • Coffee 80-160 mg

Because matcha also contains L-theanine, the energy boost from the caffeine behaves differently in the body. Unlike the caffeine in coffee, which typically provides a buzzed alertness followed by a crash, the caffeine in matcha creates a calm alertness followed by a sense of relaxation without drowsiness. Those with a caffeine sensitivity should still avoid matcha even though the caffeine levels are lower than that of coffee.

Lead in Matcha

One of the main concerns about drinking matcha is the potential for lead to be found in green tea leaves. Green tea plants, or Camellia sinensis, naturally absorb lead from their environment which can end up in drinks like green tea. The USDA’s limit on acceptable lead quantities is 2mcg per gram when the tea is brewed, and they have found that various matcha brands sourced from China surpass the acceptable quantities of lead. Be sure to choose reputable and certified brands when purchasing your matcha and limit your intake to around one cup a day. Avoid serving matcha to children.

What Does Matcha Taste Like?

Matcha has a vegetal flavor with some nuttiness, slight sweetness, and minor bitterness. The flavor of matcha may be impacted by the grade and quality of the matcha. Ceremonial grade matcha will typically have a smoother sweet flavor with less bitterness while culinary grade matcha is less sweet but features a nuttier flavor. The flavor of matcha can also grow more bitter over time when exposed to oxygen.

How to Make Matcha Tea

Whisking Matcha in Bowl

The art of making matcha tea originated from the Japanese samurai class as a way of meditating, practicing self-discipline, and achieving Zen. To make matcha tea according to the Japanese tea ceremony, you will need the following:

Follow these directions to learn how to use matcha powder properly:

  1. Fill the tea bowl with hot water to warm the bowl.
  2. Place the matcha whisk in the water for 30 seconds to loosen the bamboo, then discard the water.
  3. Scoop approximately 1 tsp. of matcha tea powder in the bowl using your tea scoop.
  4. Pour 2 oz. of hot water over the matcha powder. The water should be between 160 - 175 degrees Fahrenheit, not boiling.
  5. Boiling will burn the matcha and make it bitter.
  6. Using your chasen, whisk the matcha rapidly and lightly in zig-zag motions instead of traditional circular motions until the powder is fully incorporated.
  7. Once a foam appears on the surface of your matcha, pull the whisk back in a circular stirring motion.
  8. Find a quiet spot to sip your matcha tea straight from the chawan or from your favorite mug and quiet your mind.

Be sure to keep your matcha powder in an air-tight container and store it in a cool, dark place to extend the longevity and freshness of your powder. When stored properly, matcha powder can last 4-8 weeks once opened and about a year unopened, similar to the shelf life of many spices.

Matcha Bamboo Whisk

Bamboo Matcha Whisk

A matcha bamboo whisk, or a chasen, is a handcrafted bamboo whisk made specifically for the preparation of matcha. It is traditionally made from a single piece of bamboo and can be found with a varying number of strings or “teeth” on the whisk, anywhere from 16 to 120. The higher the string count, the quicker the matcha foam up. The whisk should be stored in a Kuse Naoshi or a matcha whisk holder to help it retain its shape over time.

How to Make Matcha Tea Without Whisk

Although it is recommended to use a matcha whisk to achieve the nuances of the matcha tea ceremony, you may not have access to a chasen right away. If you don’t have a matcha whisk, you can try using these alternatives:

  • Handheld Milk Frother - Most common alternative but may not provide an even layer of foam
  • Blender - Might allow you to incorporate the powder but not fully, may require some hand mixing to finish
  • Fork - Does not easily break up clumps and may require prolonged mixing

Matcha vs Green Tea

Although matcha and green tea both derive from the Camellia sinensis plant, there are some differences that set them apart.

  • When you drink matcha, you are consuming the actual green tea leaf. When you drink green tea, the leaves are brewed, infused in the water, then removed.
  • Matcha tea has twice as much caffeine as green tea.
  • Matcha contains twice as much EGCG as green tea.
  • Matcha has a higher concentration of nutrients than green tea.
  • Matcha has a naturally sweet vegetal flavor, while green tea has a mild earthy flavor that pairs well with other flavors for tea blends.

When comparing matcha powder vs green tea powder, you’ll find these differences between the two:

  • Matcha powder is a vibrant dark green in color, while green tea powder is often a yellow- brown color.
  • Matcha is made from shaded and young green tea leaves, green tea powder is made from mature leaves that are exposed to the sun during the growing process.
  • Matcha powder is made by stone-grinding the tea leaves, green tea power is made by pulverizing the leaves with air pressure.

Matcha Grades

Matcha iced latte

There are two main grades of matcha, ceremonial and culinary; however, some list latte grade matcha as a third option. Each grade varies in quality, characteristics, and usage. We explore the matcha grade differences below:

1. Ceremonial Grade Matcha

Ceremonial grade matcha is considered the highest quality matcha and is intended to be enjoyed with no additives or sweeteners. It is made with young, shaded green tea leaves that are carefully harvested and processed to create smooth matcha.

  • Flavor: A delicate vegetal flavor with mild sweetness and mild nuttiness
  • Usage: Used for Japanese tea ceremonies, served with just hot water, reserved for special occasions
  • Color: Vibrant Green
  • Price: $$$

2. Culinary Grade Matcha

Culinary grade matcha is the most commonly used matcha type. It is made from green tea leaves from the second or third harvest. You will find it used for various cafe beverages and desserts since it is made to be added with other ingredients.

  • Flavor: A robust grassy flavor with slight bitter umami flavor and distinguishable nuttiness
  • Usage: Brewed and mixed with milk and sweeteners, often used in baked goods, smoothies, cocktails, and other beverages
  • Color: Dull Green or Light Green
  • Price: $

There are various types of culinary grade matcha that all have their own particular uses:

  • Premium Grade Matcha: Fine texture that blends well in hot water, vibrant green in color, great for everyday use
  • Classic Grade Matcha: An economic value for everyday usage, features a strong vegetal flavor
  • Ingredient Grade Matcha: Thick consistency, pairs well with recipes that contain milk or dairy like desserts or sauces
  • Kitchen Grade Matcha: Usually made with mature and less delicate leaves, features a distinct bitter flavor, often added to food recipes like soups, stir-frys, and rich baked goods.

3. Latte Grade Matcha

Latte grade matcha, also known as cafe grade matcha, is made from the first harvested green tea leaves and is prepared for steamed milk beverages. It is often included in the types of culinary grade matcha but will more likely be listed as its own grade type.

  • Flavor: Strong grassy flavor and mild bitterness
  • Usage: Blends well in milk-based beverages and desserts, usually paired with milk and sweeteners, used for hot or iced lattes, smoothies, and ice cream
  • Color: Green
  • Price: $$

Cooking With Matcha

Matcha pudding in martini glass

Matcha can transform a basic treat or drink into a vibrant green eye-catching delight. Adding matcha to baked goods and lattes provides an umami flavor that balances well with sweetness and brightens the flavor of savory dishes. Here are just some of the matcha recipes you can try in your cafe or bakery:

  • Matcha Cappuccino
  • Green Ice Cream
  • Matcha Pancakes
  • Matcha-Covered Popcorn
  • Matcha Cookies
  • Matcha Soup
  • Green Pudding
  • Matcha Salad Dressing
  • Matcha Guacamole

Expand your cafe menu by adding some options next to the different types of coffee drinks that you serve. You can try incorporating it in a signature beverage or dessert, or provide an immersive and relaxing experience by offering Japanese tea ceremonies for your customers.

Posted in: Coffee & Tea | By Janine Jones

4th of July Menu Ideas

With people traveling for beach getaways, family reunions, fireworks displays, and other festive gatherings, the 4th of July may be a slow time for your restaurant or bar. After the quarantines put in place due to the coronavirus, you may be experiencing various restrictions on how you can reopen your restaurant this summer as well.

Luckily, we’ve put together 4 menu ideas for July 4th - including a tasty entree, side, dessert, and cocktail - that will attract guests to your establishment for delicious outdoor dining or take-out options.

4th of July Menu and Recipes

Serve this 4th of July food to get your guests into a celebratory spirit. These easy recipes are simple to incorporate into your menu, and their patriotic names help to create a festive theme for the holiday.

1. Cocktail: The George Washington

At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington owned the largest whiskey distillery in the country, so a whiskey drink is a natural choice for your selection of 4th of July cocktails. This tasty 4th of July drink uses cherry syrup for a patriotic red color and is the perfect addition to your summer cocktail list.


Ingredients

  • 1.25 oz. white rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. Dolce cherry syrup
  • 1 whole lime

Instructions

  1. Measure 1.25 oz. of whiskey and add it to your shaker.
  2. Measure 1 oz. of cherry syrup and add it to your shaker.
  3. Using a lime squeezer, extract juice from one whole lime into your shaker.
  4. Cover your shaker and shake together the ingredients.
  5. Pour the ingredients over a glass of shaved ice.
  6. Garnish the cocktail with a cherry.

2. Entree: The Betsy Ross Burger

To celebrate the woman who sewed the first American flag, we created the Betsy Ross burger. This festive alternative to a traditional burger features red peppers, white onion, and blue cheese toppings to mirror the colors of the nation. This recipe makes 4 burgers for your guests.

4th of July hamburgers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 4 slices of blue cheese
  • 1 vidalia onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 roasted red peppers, sliced
  • Mayonnaise (as desired)

Instructions

  1. Prepare burgers on a griddle or commercial outdoor grill according to guests' temperature requests.
  2. Toast and butter the bun.
  3. Place a slice of blue cheese on the burger. (You may also use blue cheese crumbles for this recipe, though the crumbles may not melt as well as a slice will.)
  4. Add sliced vidalia onions.
  5. Top the burger with slices of roasted red peppers.
  6. Spread mayonnaise on the top half of the bun.

3. Side Dish: Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

This delicious twist on a classic summer favorite is sure to satisfy your guests’ desire for traditional American cookout food. Made with red, white, and blue potatoes, this salad is the perfect accompaniment to the Betsy Ross burger.

potato salad for 4th of july

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. white potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. blue potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • Sprinkle of celery seed
  • Sprinkle of apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Boil the red and white potatoes for about 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Boil the blue potatoes separately for about 10 minutes. Let them cool.
  3. Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, and dill in a separate bowl. Add the celery seed and apple cider vinegar.
  4. Combine potatoes into one large bowl.
  5. Pour ingredients onto potatoes, mix, and season to taste. If you would like the red, white, and blue hues of the potatoes to stand out more, use less sour cream and mayonnaise.

4. Dessert: Boston Tea Party Earl Grey Cupcakes

Not all 4th of July desserts have to focus on summer berries or be red, white, and blue. The Boston Tea party, when Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty threw 45 tons of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the British tax increase on tea, is our inspiration for this unique dessert. This recipe makes about 24 delicious Earl Grey cupcakes.

Earl Grey Cupcakes for 4th of july

Ingredients

For Cupcakes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons finely ground Earl Grey tea
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For Strawberry Filling
  • 1 large jar of strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
For Earl Grey Syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag
  • 1/2 cup sugar
For Earl Grey Icing
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • about 1 tablespoon Earl Grey syrup

Instructions

For Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly boil the milk over medium heat and add loose Earl Grey tea. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the milk and tea mixture from heat and steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk. Set aside.
  5. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and finely ground Earl Grey tea. Add the butter, vanilla, and tea-infused milk and beat with a mixer on low until the dry ingredients are moist. Mix for one minute on medium-high.
  6. Add in the egg mixture. Do not overmix.
  7. Pour batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For Strawberry Preserves
  1. In a sauce pan over low-medium heat, cook a jar of strawberry preserves, the orange zest, and orange juice for about 10 minutes.
  2. Set aside to allow the flavors to mix together.
For Earl Grey Syrup
  1. In a small sauce pan, bring water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Once the water reaches a boil, turn off heat and add the Earl Grey tea bag.
  3. Allow the tea to steep for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and turn the heat back on.
  5. Stir occasionally, and cook until the sugar melts completely.
  6. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool.
For Earl Grey Icing
  1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Using a double boiler or a similar method, heat the egg-sugar mixture over boiling water.
  3. Whisk constantly and heat the mixture to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, or until it’s hot to the touch. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer.
  4. Whisk on high for about 10 minutes or until the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature. You should have glossy peaks.
  5. Use a paddle attachment to mix in butter and vanilla bean on medium-low until smooth. Add the Earl Grey tea syrup and mix until combined.

Plating

Once the cupcakes are cooled and your filling and icing are complete, use a piping tip to create a hole in the top of each cupcake. Spoon strawberry filling into the hole, and then ice the cupcake.


From drinks to desserts, we have 4th of July recipes for every part of your meal. With these patriotic menu items, your guests can celebrate Independence Day while enjoying some delicious food! Plus, these classic recipes can easily become permanent parts of your menu if they are a hit at your 4th of July event.

Posted in: Holidays | Recipes | By Emily Hepner
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