Lemons, twisted
When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, or so the adage goes. The clever tippler knows to take that pragmatic advice one step further: Give those lemons a twist — be it a clever garnish, an unexpected flavor pairing or, even, a bright shot of alcohol. Try these festive drinks and life will seem a whole lot easier pretty quickly.

Fete de l'ete (Summer party)

Makes: 1 cocktail

Note: From Lynn M. House, chief mixologist at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago. The drink can be made with or without alcohol.

2 ounces lemon vodka
1 1/2 ounces basil syrup, see method below
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce cucumber juice, see note below
1 egg white
Garnishes: Thin slices cucumber and lemon

Combine all ingredients, except the garnishes, in a mixing glass; shake first without ice. Then add ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with lemon and cucumber slices.

Basil syrup: Steep 1/4 pound fresh basil leaves in 1 cup hot water, 20 minutes; strain, reserving the water, discarding the leaves. Make a syrup by combining 1 cup basil water with 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate, up to 2 weeks.

Cucumber juice: Puree 1 diced seedless cucumber with 1 cup ice water in a blender. Double strain the juice before using. Refrigerate, up to 3 days.

Adagio for summer

Makes: 12 servings

Note: Craig Schoettler, formerly executive chef beverage director at The Aviary in Chicago, recommends a punch rather than separate drinks. "It'll be great for summer parties and barbecues,'' he says. Schoettler calls for Paul Beau VS cognac, Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old bourbon, Smith & Cross Jamaica rum and Pierre Ferrand dry curacao in this recipe. You may sub with other brands.

6 oranges