Come summertime, we trade in our dark, heavy drinks for light spirits, fresh fruit, and crushed ice. Warm-weather cocktails help us beat the heat, and add a welcome dose of color after many months of grey, thanks to fresh fruit—local and seasonal alike—and spirits that only feel appropriate when paired with special glassware and ample garnishes (we’re looking at you, blue curaçao).
Just as some people prefer pool noodles and others would rather paddle around on an inflatable dolphin, there’s a summer drink for everyone. If you’re feeling whimsical: blend up a slushy margarita—made with frozen limeade and therefore perfect for a crowd—or a Pineapple Express, which pairs crushed pineapple with the kick of cinnamon syrup. If you’re looking for something a little more classic (or looking to blend in on the croquet court), bring out the bottle of gin and turn it into a lavender fizz. Or lighten up a traditional julep with white rum.
Whichever way you stir it, summer is just the time to sip something cold and boozy, and forget about everything else. Just maybe don’t jump back into the pool after your third Blue Hawaii.
Everything’s Coming Up Rosé
Natasha David, head bartender of New York City’s Nitecap, grew up in Germany, where everything from wine to apple juice got gespritzt. Her bright fuchsia aperitivo mixes tannic hibiscus tea, sweet Lillet Rosé, and dry rosé with a hit of prosecco.
Punch House Spritz
Everyone should have a house spritz, whose proportions are known by heart and ingredients are stocked easily, like this one from Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau of PUNCH.
If You Like Piña Colada
Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park crafted this cocktail in honor of our 21st birthday, inspired by SAVEUR’s global influence. “While your average 21-year-old is spending their birthday getting a little too familiar with Jagermeister and Miller High-Life—not that there’s anything wrong with that—SAVEUR has already been around the world,” he says. “She’s sampled the best, and is hungry for more. Here, a perfect blend of some lesser-seen players: spicy rye, robust and savory-spiced velvet falernum, ancient and unapologetically vegetal green Chartreuse, and Linie aquavit, a spirit that, amazingly enough, has actually sailed around the world, aging in oak sherry casks to the rhythm of the rolling waves. Coconut, lime, and pineapple tie the package together; a somewhat more civilized yet totally delicious way to celebrate one’s twenty-first year.” Get the recipe for If You Like Piña Colada »
Leaf and Spear
This green cocktail combines kale-infused rum with a housemade green harissa syrup, which adds sugar for balance and a hint of jalapeño for pop.
In this green cocktail, Los Angeles mixology consultant Matthew Biancaniello of Eat Your Drink (HarperCollins; 2015) doubles up on smoky flavors with both mezcal and grilled asparagus. Get the recipe for Health Kick »
Made with bold, American Cabernet in lieu of the traditional South American brandy, this complex and tantalizing cocktail is Napa Valley’s take on the Pisco Sour.
This nonalcoholic sparkler is decidedly sophisticated: fennel’s light, anise flavor is tempered by sweetly autumnal apple juice.
This lightly floral cognac drink is sweetened with honey.
Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria
This version of a Spanish sangria is ripe with summer fruit; its light, crisp flavors complement seafood and poultry.
This white wine-based cocktail from Brooklyn, New York’s Café Moto starts off summery, with the aromas of fresh basil and mint and an effervescent topper of club soda. Get the recipe for The Saint »
This classic cocktail couldn’t be simpler—it’s simply even parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
This bubbly Negroni variation, whose name means “bungled,” was invented at Bar Basso in Milan in 1968 when a bartender accidentally put sparkling wine into the drink instead of gin. It is an excellent choice for a brunch cocktail.
Aperol and prosecco add an Italian touch to this sweet and spicy combination of mango and muddled jalapeño.
Nectar of the Ancient
Mastiha is a traditional Greek liqueur flavored with mastic, the resin from a tree that grows on the island of Chios. It adds an herbal, pine-like flavor to this sparkling cocktail from Berlin’s Lebensstern.
Lime Pie Cocktail
Rimmed with Pop Rocks-like carbonated crystals, this citrusy refresher is a specialty of the Berlin bar Lebensstern.
Grapefruit Agua Fresca
In this refreshing cocktail, tequila is mixed with sweet honey, tart grapefruit juice, and bitter Cocchi Americano Rosa.
Agricole rum, made from fresh sugarcane, adds rich flavor to a fruity frozen drink.
This fruity frozen daiquiri becomes dessert-like with the addition of heavy cream.
Frozen Piña Colada
A poolside classic, this blended coconut cooler is heightened with a splash of aromatic bitters.
Happy hour tastes like paradise with this bracing cocktail of cucumber, tequila, fresh lime juice, and a touch of bitter Aperol.
Invented circa 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, this sweet drink has become a beachside classic on beaches worldwide.
Found all over Italy, the spritz is a classically Venetian cocktail of prosecco mixed with a bitter aperitif and soda water.
Rosemary brings an herbal note to this whiskey drink.
The key to the cocktail’s rich texture is the egg white: be sure to use a very fresh, high-quality egg, and to shake it with cracked ice rather than whole cubes to help with the aeration.
Lemon Lavender Fizz
The juniper-scented undertones of gin play off nicely against the sweetness of a lavender simple syrup. Stirred with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and topped with club soda, it’s a perfect springtime drink. Lemon Lavender Fizz »
A hit of ginger liqueur takes the traditional mint julep and turns it squarely on its ear: spicy, sweet, and modern, with a citrus tang from the wedge of lemon, it’s a fresh twist on the old classic.
Antebellum Mint Julep
Before the Civil War made foreign products hard to come by in the South, French cognac was the preferred liquor in a mint julep.