5 Summer Drinking Tips from Geoffrey Zakarian

The New York restaurateur teaches us to keep our ice big and our garnishes zingy

Geoffrey Zakarian Drink Essentials
Matt Taylor-Gross

It's high time for summer drinks, for refreshing cocktails and spritzes galore, all enjoyed on patios and lawns, preferably with a grill somewhere in sight. To help us with our summer drinking strategies, we called on Geoffrey Zakarian, judge on Iron Chef and Chopped, and globe-trotting restaurateur. Here are his five essential tips for summer drinking and entertaining:

  • Start with the right ice. Use a large ice cube mold; big cubes will melt more slowly and dilute your drinks less.

  • Rethink your tonic drink. Zakarian likes to keep a number of aperitifs on hand for light, refreshing summer cocktails. Start with Suze—an aperitif made from gentian root—and make a simple Suze and tonic, with a slice of lemon. "It's magical," Zakarian says.

  • You can do better than a plastic soda bottle. Mexican coke—made with real sugar—is one of the best mixers to have on hand, says Zakarian. The pretty glass bottles don't hurt, either.

  • Flank your citrus with ginger. We all know that citrus zest and wedges are the foundation of a great garnish selection. But where to go from there? "I especially like thin slices of ginger," says Zakarian. "It's a knockout for cooling your palate."

  • A martini can be just the thing. Zakarian's favorite three-ingredient cocktail? "Two ounces of Plymouth gin shaken over ice and poured into a frozen martini glass while you stare at an unopened bottle of vermouth. Twist of lemon. Never olives. Never."

Tell us in the comments: What are your summer drinking essentials?