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Master summer cocktails

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dear Chef: I love entertaining in the summer, but I get tired of serving the same old beers and margaritas at every gathering. I’d love to come up with my own signature cocktail. Any suggestions? Not a Mixologist

Dear Not A Mixologist: Summer is here with a vengeance. And nothing cools us off better than a great refreshing summer cocktail. You don’t have to be a mixologist to have fun, make great cocktails and impress your friends.

To put your fears at ease, the perfect summer drink doesn’t always require a blender, which is what so many people think.

Using fresh citrus balanced with something sweet, such as simple syrup or agave nectar, and your favorite spirit can create a unique or classic cocktail perfect for

M’tucci’s blackberry shrub is made of lime juice, simple syrup, M’tucci’s blackberry shrub mix and barrel-aged Cachaca shaken over ice, strained and topped with club soda.

the hot summer.

The three-ingredient cocktail is not only easy, but also a great foundation to creating unique craft beverages.

The margarita uses fresh squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and tequila. Remove the tequila, add rum and you have a classic daiquiri. Remove the rum, add gin and you have a gimlet. Remove the gin, add vodka and you have a kamikaze. You can replace the fresh lime juice with fresh lemon juice and now you have a lemon drop.

To create something a bit more complex, you may add your favorite fresh fruit, from strawberries to watermelon or even cucumbers, to add an addition layer of flavor to your cocktail. The simple combinations can be endless using fresh ingredients with your spirit of choice.

When making cocktails at home, like any other skill, you will need the proper tools. The basic tools I recommend are a Boston Shaker and mixing glass for shaking your concoction with fresh ice.

You will need a muddler if you decide to add any additional ingredients to pulverize the pulp. Finally, you will need a Hawthorne strainer to strain the cocktail into the glass.

By following these simple suggestions, you can create many refreshing libations to enjoy at home or to impress your guests at a gathering. You may even surprise yourself. Cheers!

Austin Leard is a mixologist and partner at M’tucci’s Restaurants.