Before Keifer and Shawna Thompson were the Academy of Country Music’s vocal duo of the year, they were an ordinary married couple struggling to make ends meet. “We had a record deal gone awry and no money and no jobs,” recalls Keifer, while cozying up to his wife of 13 years in the rooftop Bookmarks Lounge at New York City’s Library Hotel. To make ends meet the couple decided to go to plan B: They got out the credit card and signed up for bartending school. Soon after they got hired to work a downtown Nashville bar together. “We did that for a long time and got really good at making all kinds of drinks,” he says. Luckily, it’s a skill set they haven’t forgotten since finding musical success with hits like “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” and “I Got You.” The proof is in the fruity refreshments found on their tour bus: Keifer’s Lynchburg Lemonade and Shawna’s Bama Bug Juice. “The secret is fresh oranges and limes,” says Keifer of his new summer favorite. “Squeezing all the juices is a lot of work, so I drink it slower and savor it because I don’t want to work that much.” Says Shawna of her concoction: “I drink a lot of Vitaminwater, and I thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like if I put a little vodka in here!’ ” The result, she says, is “really refreshing and low calorie-you can trick yourself into thinking you’re drinking healthy!”
Keifer’s Lynchburg Lemonade
MAKE IT Fill cocktail shaker half full of crushed ice. Add 2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s whiskey, 2 tbsp. triple sec, 1 tbsp. sweet and sour mix, 1½ tsp. fresh orange juice, 1½ tsp. fresh lime juice and ½ cup lemon-lime soft drink; shake well. Strain into an ice-filled tall cocktail glass.
Shawna’s Bama Bug Juice
MAKE IT Fill cocktail shaker half full of crushed ice. Add 2/3 cup squeezed lemonade flavor Vitaminwater Zero, 2 tbsp. vodka and a splash of diet lemon-lime soft drink; shake well. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with sliced strawberries.
Bookmarks’ Blood Orange Sparkling Cocktail
MAKE IT Stir together 1½ tbsp. blood orange puree, 1½ tsp. orange liqueur and 1/3 cup chilled sparkling wine; strain into champagne flute. Top with additional sparkling wine.
Bookmarks’ Watermelon-Ginger Infused Lemonade
MAKE IT Fill cocktail shaker half full of crushed ice. Add ¼ cup vodka, 2 tbsp. fresh watermelon juice, 2 tbsp. ginger liqueur, 1½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice and 1 tbsp. simple syrup; shake well. Strain into ice-filled pilsner glass. Top with sparkling wine; stir to blend.