Libations have long been associated with travel to far-flung coastlines. In 1609, when explorer Henry Hudson alit upon the shores of the river that today bears his name, he claimed to have encountered gnomes there who plied his crew with a potent brew that transformed them into beady-eyed little folks, too. During Prohibition, Americans flocked on European cruise ships to the Caribbean, where they could sip their fill of rum-based cocktails. Today, the world over, beaches are the locus of booze-filled frolics. Some beach drinks—minimalist concoctions like the Israeli favorite, arak and grapefruit—reflect summer’s drive toward ease. Others, such as the Singapore Sling, are more elaborate, evoking the alleged exoticism of their native locales with tropical juices and spices, multiple liquors, and elaborate garnishes. However it is made, a beachside cocktail sets the summer-vacation mood and cools the sun’s heat.
Invented circa 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, this sweet drink has become a beachside classic on strands worldwide.
See the recipe for Singapore Sling »
Arak and Grapefruit
On the beaches of Tel Aviv, and elsewhere in the Middle East, a bracing blend of arak (a grape-derived, unsweetened, anise-flavored liquor) and fresh grapefruit juice is a popular refresher. Arak can be found in the United States but is not always available; ouzo makes a fine substitute.
See the recipe for Arak and Grapefruit »
Long Island Iced Tea
Invented in 1972 by Robert “Rosebud” Butt, then bartender at the Oak Beach Inn in Suffolk County, Long Island, this multiliquor drink’s reputation for potency quickly made it a classic.
See the recipe for Long Island Iced Tea »
The spiced Caribbean syrup falernum heightens the aroma of this rum-rich punch.
See the recipe for Bermuda Punch »
A poolside classic, this blended coconut cooler is heightened with a splash of aromatic bitters.
Some say the secret to mixing cola and red wine together is using the cheapest plonk you can get. We prefer a slightly better, dry, tannic red. This Basque version, a popular refresher on the shores of San Sebastian, is the best-known, although the drink is also popular throughout Spain, in parts of Eastern Europe, and in South America, under different names.
See the recipe for Kalimotxo »
Mexican lager is refreshing on a hot beach day. Mixed with ingredients usually associated with the bloody mary, it’s even more restorative.
See the recipe for Michelda »
Pisco–an eau de vie distilled from grapes–was born on the coast of Peru, but Chileans make it too, and each country claims the cocktail for which it is best known. The recipe will look familiar to anyone who has ever made a sour of any kind; the pisco imparts a winey quality.
See the recipe for Pisco Sour »
This heady tropical cocktail gets its earthy undertones from creme de cacao.
See the recipe for Zelma’s Punch »
While the earliest versions of Bermuda’s national drink were whisked until frothy with a “swizzle stick,” a small branch or stem from the allspice bush, a cocktail shaker does the trick just fine.
See the recipe for Rum Swizzle »
Donn Beach set a limit of two per customer for this potent drink, made with three kinds of rum, citrus, and spice. the bold character of a pot-distilled English-style rum shine through.
See the recipe for Zombie »
Found all over Italy, the spritz is a classically Venetian cocktail that pairs well with all sorts of cicheti.
See the recipe for Spritz »
One of Mexico’s most popular cocktails, the Paloma is a perfectly refreshing combination of sweet and tart with grapefruit, lime, and a pinch of salt.
See the recipe for The Paloma »
Bright red and bittersweet, the Americano was born as the “Milano-Torino” at Caffe Camparino in the 1860’s (the Campari came from Milan, the sweet vermouth from Turin). The cocktail eventually became known as the Americano due to its popularity with American expats during prohibition.
See the recipe for Americano »
Tinto de Verano (Red Wine and Lemon-lime Soda Spritzer)
Tinto de verano, which translates to “red wine of summer” is a surprising combination of red wine and lemon-lime soda. This cool spritzer is a perfect refreshment for hot summer days. If a lightly-sweetened lemon-lime soda like Spain’s “gaseosa” can’t be found, you can substitute Squirt or 7-Up cut with a splash of plain seltzer.
See the recipe for Tinto de Verano »
“Trader Vic” Bergeron came up with this floral drink to showcase a 17-year-old gold Jamaican rum. Once all his bottles were gone, he re-created the drink’s complex flavor by layering two very different rums in the same drink.
See the recipe for Mai Tai »
This alternative to rum and Coke uses lighter, brighter grapefruit soda to let the bold character of a pot-distilled English-style rum shine through.
Some Brazilians substitute vodka for the fiery
cachaça–sugarcane brandy–in this classic drink and call the result a caipiroska.
The CCR is a Caribbean refresher composed of a splash of Chartreuse (a French herbal liqueur), coconut water, and aged Martinique rum.
See the recipe for CCR »
Kentucky Club Margarita
While the precise origin of the first margarita remains hotly contested, most agree that this classic cocktail hails from Mexico. Countless versions have since been popularized; this elegant shaken margarita is more tart than sweet.
See the recipe for The Kentucky Club Margarita »
Sugarcane and rum are lifelines of Cuba’s economy, and their marriage in the mojito is a potent expression of the island’s identity. At celebrated Havana bars, mojitos are an essential part of the nightly proceedings.
See the recipe for The Mojito »