First of all: The Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
A note--Blenderized drinks are just FINE. Really. I know the snobs down at Pegu in NYC aren't there yet, but as long as you use decent spirits and fresh fruit, you'll be fine. So here you go. This is enough for at LEAST six drinks, anyway. Probably seven or eight.
A big (double-sized) box of good, fresh strawberries, organic if possible (strawberries are one of those things that really get nailed with nasty chemicals if you go with the conventional ones; it's worth shelling out)
12 oz of silver rum
4 oz each of FRESH lime juice and either triple sec or Cointreau
2 or 3 tablespoons Me Oko strawberry vodka OR blackberry brandy
Put the fruit and rum in the blender and liquify thoroughly. Pass through a fine strainer to try to get rid of as many seeds as you can (not absolutely necessary, but it makes for a more pleasant drink). Mix in a large pitcher with lime juice and cointreau. Taste for balance, adding a little more juice or liqueur if it seems too tart or too sweet.
Pour about half the mixture back into the blender and add about two cups of ice--cubed or cracked, either way. Blend well, stopping to stir a few times, until the texture is very smooth. You'll hear the blender make a slightly higher whirring sound as this happens.
Pour into whatever festive glasses you have, garnishing with a berry, a slice of lime, or a silly umbrella. Drink with straws.
And Second of all:
The Perfected White Sangria
White Sangria is the sort of thing that also gets eyeball-rolls from drinks snobs, but it's a fine drink for a summer brunch or for sipping on a really hot night. Again, ingredients are all: use decent spirits and fresh fruit and all will be well. Plenty of drinks come out of this generous recipe, the number depending on how much seltzer you end up adding in the last step--half and half works well, as the wine mix has LOTS of brandies in it.
1 LARGE (1.5 liters) bottle of white wine--something good enough to drink on its own, and not too light
1 half cup each of the following:
cointreau or triple sec
plain old grape brandy--nothing too fancy, here, but don't cheap out totally
One granny smith apple
Two or three ripe kiwi fruits
A good handful of seedless grapes, red or white
One ripe pear
a handful of mint (don't add until you are ready to serve)
Mix the wine with the brandy and liqueur in a large pitcher. Taste for sweetness. Some folks add a dash of simple syrup or bar sugar, but I find that OTT. Slice the fruit, except for the grapes, peeling the kiwis first. Add to the wine mixture. Cover and allow to steep for a few hours or overnight. Add the mint and stir. Serve, mixed about half and half with seltzer. You can keep the steeped fruit in the drink--the pears will be soft, but everything else will still be pretty--and/or garnish with a bit more fruit if you have some more around. DON'T be tempted to put citrus fruit in here--it'll blow the balance.