If there is a drink that is synonymous with our beaches here in the summertime, it’s Orange Crushes. Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City claims they are the “home” of the original. But, with these simple ingredients – it’s hard to imagine someone didn’t think of it first! You’ll find them on the menu in pretty much any place you go to around here. But, if there’s not a big bowl of oranges on the bar counter – beware!

The fresh juice is the key component here. Well, besides the vodka obviously! While I keep a box of OJ in the fridge, this isn’t the place for it. They are traditionally made with an orange press – which does add a certain something, squeezing out more of the essential oils from the peel I suppose. Never the less, a regular old citrus reamer or juicer is just dandy if you don’t have a citrus press on the ready.

Once you make one, you’ll be hooked. They’re deliciously light and refreshing on a hot summer evening!

Having this homemade mixer in the fridge has been trouble. It makes it entirely too easy to make a delicious, fresh margarita on a whim. And with these warm summer evenings we’ve been having, I’ve had more and more whims lately!

This recipes comes from the lovely Shawnda, then Queen of all things margarita. Thanks to her, I’ve spent a small fortune in tequila already this year. And, summer is still young! Bringing the mix together takes only a few minutes, and a batch will last in the fridge for about a week. So great to have on hand for impromptu drinks with neighbors, or a girls night. Couldn’t be easier either; lime juice, sugar, and water. You won’t be able to go back to that neon green stuff you buy in a bottle! Enjoy.

Since these margaritas have entered my life, I’ve gone through a considerable amount more of tequila every week. My homegirl Shawnda had mentioned them to me in passing about a month ago, and I couldn’t wait to try them. Literally couldn’t wait either, I hounded her to give up the recipe early. Thankfully, she obliged and gave up the goods. Made a batch of them up that night, and voila! My new favorite summer drink.

I love a small sprinkling of salt on my chunks of cantaloupe anyways, and let me tell you – the salt rim is everything I’d hoped it would be. Even now, at 9 AM on a Monday, it’s making my mouth water. The color is just gorgeous too, a lovely sherbert colored orange. This recipe makes about 4 or 5 drinks, so it’s perfect for poolside or at a backyard BBQ…or, drinking all to yourself on a Friday night. These are so good, they had my homebrewing husband drinking them! And, he doesn’t do tequila. They’re that good, folks. I know it’s only Monday, but I’m already looking forward to next weekend and making up another batch of these perfect summer cocktails.

To say that I’m excited about Saturday’s race at Belmont Park is kind of an understatement. For a girl who grew up in  Maryland’s prime horse country, the Triple Crown stakes (3 races composed of the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and the Belmont) were always a big deal for us. Sadly, in my 29 years here on Earth, there has not been a horse that has won all 3 races to become a Triple Crown champion. I’m hoping that this year, the flashy chestnut colt they call “I’ll Have Another” will remedy that situation by taking this last leg of the race by storm, as he has the others, and bring home the title!

I’ll be cheering him on with one of these in hand, a fruity yet deceivingly strong beverage that is the signature cocktail of the Belmont Stakes. I’m usually a tequila or vodka kind of girl, but a change of pace once in a while is nice. Bourbon is the go-to liquor of choice for most cocktails created around horse racing. I used store-bought lemonade (Simply Lemonade, y u so good?), but you could certainly use some sweetened lemon juice and sparking water.

So, let’s raise a glass and toast to I’ll Have Another – here’s hoping we have the first Triple Crown Winner in 34 years come Sunday morning! I’d be one very happy girl.

*Update: I’ll Have Another has been scratched due to a leg/tendonitis injury. A huge disappointment, yes. However, it shows that they really care about the horse’s welfare, and not just the race purse. Maybe next year, folks! Best of luck to all the other entrants tomorrow.