Anne Robinson is shown in the center, with two of her cocktail creations on either side.

Sparkling Soirees: NYC Mixologist Anne Robinson Spills Her Perfect-Summer-Cocktail Secrets

Anne Robinson knows a thing or two about crafting incredible cocktails—she’s head bartender at The William Vale in Brooklyn and one of Food and Wine’s 2016 best new mixologists. Now, she’s drawing on some of summer’s hottest trends—refreshing, fruit-inspired flavors and DIY mixology—to help you add a hint of sparkle to any summer soiree with one quick Target run. Her delicious secret ingredient? Target’s fruity, refreshing Simply Balanced Sparkling Water.

Sparkling water’s having a major moment—and our guests love the fizzy, fruity stuff (sales grew faster than any other grocery category last year). Our Simply Balanced Ginger Peach and Cucumber Mint sparkling waters are already fan favorites, but now, get ready for a big flavor boost! We’ve added six new flavors—Black Cherry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Raspberry Blackberry and Watermelon (check out all our flavor profiles here). And to celebrate, Anne’s crafted some super-refreshing cocktails centered around these fun summer sips—the Ginger Peach Smash, Grapefruit Cooler, Watermelon Fizz and Summerside Spritz.

What inspired your beautiful concoctions?
The "at-home" bartending trend has been building up for some time now. I wanted to create cocktails that are simple enough to concoct at home with ingredients that are easy to track down on your own, at your local Target. A lot of the complexity is put forth by the Simply Balanced Sparkling Water flavors themselves, so you don't have to wrangle 10 different ingredients in order to get a fun drink experience.

Every summer, the trends are all about "refreshing," so I of course aimed to keep everything as bright as possible. Then I also managed to make all of these drinks a different shade of pink, which I suspect might be "in" as well. Everyone likes a pink drink in the summertime. 

What’s your go-to approach for mixing sparkling water into cocktails?
It's important to remember that you are lengthening your flavors as you add water to your cocktail, so you always want to start out with ingredients that will pack a punch. Sparkling water will mellow them and bring out a lot of interesting elements that you couldn't taste before.

Any other fun tips for the at-home mixologist?
I tend to keep it pretty no-frills at home, so other than a few spirits, liqueurs and bitters, I usually just make sure to have some fresh citrus around to use in my cocktails or as garnish. I do, however, like to keep a small bottle of some kind of syrup on hand in order to add a little sweetness and complexity to even just a basic sour or Old Fashioned in place of regular sugar. For instance, if I happen to find a type of tea that I like, whether it be some strange fruit flavor or even a classic chamomile, I can steep a few of those tea bags in a quart of boiling water for five minutes, then add a quart of granulated sugar to the hot water and stir until it dissolves. That tea syrup keeps for up to three or four weeks in the refrigerator and I can use it in place of simple syrup in recipes for a twist on many classics. 

And for those who want to skip the alcohol?
Fresh fruit is a great way to add something extra to the sparkling waters besides booze, and summertime is rife with some amazing choices. I would muddle or juice fresh summertime fruits into any of these waters. Pineapples, cherries, blackberries, honeydew melon...they’re fun for the whole family.

Ready to get mixing? Read on as Anne breaks down exactly how to craft her custom cocktails and serves up a few favorite pairings:

A cocktail garnished with a peach slice and mint sprigs, alongside a blue can of ginger peach sparkling water

Ginger Peach Smash

I envision this one being sipped at a summer BBQ. Stonefruit on the nose and the baking spice from the bourbon will complement the vanilla dessert flavors in the Archer Farms Tiramisu.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz bourbon
  • ½ oz orange liqueur
  • ½ oz simple syrup (to make simple syrup, heat 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water in saucepan until combined; cool)
  • 2 dashes of bitters
  • 4 wedges of lemon
  • 2 ½ oz Simply Balanced Ginger Peach Sparkling Water
  • Sprig of mint
  • Slice of peach

Directions:

  • Muddle lemon wedges in a cocktail shaker
  • Add bourbon, orange liqueur, simple syrup and bitters
  • Shake and strain all ingredients into a rocks glass full of ice
  • Top with Simply Balanced Ginger Peach Sparkling Water
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge skewered with a sprig of mint and a slice of peach

A cocktail garnished with grapefruit alongside a blue can of grapefruit sparkling water

Grapefruit Cooler

Perfect on a beach before a sunset dinner, the Grapefruit Cooler is my favorite because it reminds me of my ultimate vacation beverage. Bright citrus and bubbles from the Simply Balanced Grapefruit Sparkling Water, plus one of my favorite bitter liqueurs with a little zing of tequila and salt—perfection. Plus, the grapefruit and tequila combination is nice with the spice in Archer Farms Southwest Egg Rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz tequila
  • ¾ oz rich agave syrup (to make agave syrup, combine 2 cups Simply Balanced Organic Agave Nectar with 1 cup water)
  • ½ oz bitter liqueur
  • ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz Simply Balanced Grapefruit Sparkling Water
  • Lime wheel
  • Slice of grapefruit

Directions:

  • Combine tequila, agave syrup, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker
  • Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed stemless wine glass full of ice
  • Top with Simply Balanced Grapefruit Sparkling Water
  • Garnish with a lime wheel and a slice of grapefruit

A cocktail garnished with a watermelon slice alongside a blue can of watermelon sparkling water

Watermelon Fizz

Try this refreshing fizz with dessert by the pool, or mix sweet and savory. The light fruitiness goes well with the savory decadence of cheese and lobster in the Archer Farms Lobster & Cheese Bites, plus rum and seafood is a natural choice in my book.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz white rum
  • ¾ oz pineapple juice
  • ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz grenadine syrup (to make grenadine syrup, heat 1 cup granulate sugar and 1 cup pomegranate juice in saucepan until dissolved; cool)
  • 3 oz Simply Balanced Watermelon Sparkling Water
  • Piece of fresh watermelon

Directions:

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine rum, pineapple juice, lime juice and grenadine
  • Add ice, shake and strain all ingredients into a coupe glass
  • Top with Simply Balanced Watermelon Sparkling Water
  • Garnish with a piece of fresh watermelon on the rim of the glass

A cocktail garnished with a cucumber slice alongside a blue can of cucumber mint sparkling water

Summerside Spritz

Serve the Summerside Spritz alongside a fancy cheese and charcuterie plate at a 4th of July gathering. Who doesn't love a tiny quiche and spritz combo? 

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Build Moscato and grapefruit juice in a collins glass
  • Top with Simply Balanced Cucumber Mint Sparkling Water
  • Garnish with a lengthwise slice of cucumber inside the glass

For even more summer party inspiration, stop by your local Target or visit Target.com.

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