As the days stretch longer, the sun shines brighter and hotter. And with this season comes delicious, light, and fresh cocktails. Whether you prefer to celebrate the warmth with frozen concoctions or bask in the fun with fruity tiki drinks, there are plenty of libations that are sure to satisfy your summeriest of cravings.
Need a drink to beat the heat? Read on for the ultimate list of the best cocktails to drink while soaking up the sun.
The Lynchburg Lemonade
In the summer, cooling off with a cold glass of lemonade is second nature. And boozy versions are no exception. This Southern classic is made with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, orange liqueur, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and your choice of lemon-lime soda. Top it off with some ice, and garnish with a lemon wedge for a sweet touch.
The Frozen Daiquiri
The simple-yet-refreshing Daiquiri is a summer staple. Add a frozen element to the mix, and you have something even more satisfying. To make one, add rum, simple syrup, and lime juice to a blender. Combine these ingredients with 3 to 4 ice cubes, and garnish with a lime wheel to enjoy a drink that was often served to the famed novelist Ernest Hemingway.
The Mai Tai
This classic Caribbean tiki drink originally used a 17-year-aged Jamaican rum as its base. Today, many bartenders veer from tradition by using other rum blends to create this fan favorite. To make one, add rum, lime juice, orgeat syrup, an orange liqueur, and a mint sprig. Shake the ingredients with crushed ice, and pour into a double rocks glass for a smooth finish.
The Rum Runner
This Prohibition-era cocktail is an ode to “rum-running” captains who illegally transported bottles of liquor from the islands of Bimini to Florida. To make one, combine light and dark rum, banana and blackberry liqueurs, orange juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of Grenadine. Shake until cold, and serve into a hurricane glass. Top it off with an orange and cherry garnish, and let this cocktail transport you to an island.
The Salty Dog
This cocktail is here to help you simmer down on the dog days of summer. The Salty Dog is a riff on the vodka-based Greyhound cocktail, famously served at Greyhound bus stations in the 1940s — the only difference is a salted rim. To make one, add vodka or gin and grapefruit juice to a highball glass and garnish with a grapefruit slice. Oh, don’t forget to salt the rim in a highball glass. When it comes time for cooling off, the Salty Dog is man’s best friend.
The Strawberry Daiquiri
Jennifer Cox, an American engineer working in Cuba, must have seen the appeal of strawberry-flavored drinks when she created this classic cocktail. However, we credit Lucius Johnson for bringing the recipe stateside — especially to the Astor Hotel, a prestigious bar in New York in the 1910s. To make one, blend rum, simple syrup, lime juice, and four chopped strawberries with four or five ice cubes. Serve the mixture in a coupe glass with a strawberry or lime wheel garnish.
The Bubby’s Watermelon Margarita
The pairing of watermelon and ginger is pure bliss in a Margarita. To make one, add a premium tequila of your choice, watermelon juice, lime juice, Cointreau liqueur, and agave syrup to a shaker. Shake until cold, serve in a Margarita glass with a half-salted rim, and garnish with a watermelon slice.
The Watermelon Spritz
For spritz fans looking to shake things up, this cocktail is a summer must-have. Steve Gleich, former restaurant bar manager at Gibsons Italia, had a unique source of inspiration for this cocktail: a day at the spa. To make one, add watermelon juice, blanco tequila, aloe liqueur, grenadine, dry sparkling rosé, lemon juice, and a mint garnish. Pour this cocktail into a red wine glass over ice, and relax.
The Gin Gin Mule
This cocktail, famously created by legendary mixologist Audrey Saunders, is a cousin of the Moscow Mule. Yet, unlike the vodka-based Mule, this cocktail employs fine gin as its base. To make one, shake and muddle together fine gin, ginger beer, lime juice, simple syrup, and six sprigs of mint. Serve it up in a highball glass, and garnish with mint leaves.
The Negroni Sbagliato
Sbagliato is an Italian word meaning “wrong or mistaken,” but don’t let that turn you off from this elegant riff on the Negroni. Instead of using the standard gin, this cocktail subs in bubbly Prosecco. To make one, add Campari, sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine to a Collins glass, and garnish with an orange zest. This sweet and fizzy twist on the bitter, herbal classic is sure to brighten your day.
The Skinny Margarita
Wondering what makes a Skinny Margarita different from a traditional one? Instead of using a triple sec, the low-calorie Skinny Margarita uses fresh juice and agave nectar. Simply shake together blanco tequila, lime juice, orange juice, and agave nectar until cold, strain into a salt-rimmed glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.
The Sex on the Beach
A summer classic that never goes out of style, the Sex on the Beach is quite simple to concoct. All you need is vodka, some peach schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice. Garnish with some orange wedges and cocktail cherries, then pour into a Collins or highball glass with some fresh ice.
The Simplified Pornstar Martini
Despite its peculiar name and odd flavor combination, this cocktail has recently soared in popularity. With a combination of passion fruit liqueur, vanilla-flavored vodka, lime juice, and sparkling wine — plus a lime wheel or passion fruit garnish — this cocktail is sure to send shockwaves in the heat.
The Sparkling Cosmo
This Cosmopolitan riff was inspired by a girls’ night out, where both Champagne and Cosmos flowed freely. From there, the brilliant idea of topping Cosmopolitans off with Champagne was born. Using all the ingredients used in a classic Cosmopolitan (vodka, triple sec, lime juice, and cranberry juice) but incorporating a Champagne float, this is the ideal drink to accompany a summer night on the town.
The Spicy Margarita
Sometimes, we all need to add a little spice to our drinks. With the Spicy Margarita, expect a stark contrast of the spiciness of homemade bird’s eye chili syrup with the sweetness of an orange liqueur. To make one, add tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime juice, bird’s eye chili syrup, and salt the rim. This spicy cocktail will certainly add a kick to your summer festivities.
The Suffering Bastard Riff
Despite its name, this cocktail is sure to end any heat wave-induced suffering. In 1942, Joe Scialom invented this classic at the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Today, bartenders and consumers alike continue to enjoy this tiki-influenced highball. The secret to this riff is adding dashes of cardamom-vanilla Angostura bitters. To make one, add bourbon, gin, ginger ale, and three to four dashes of bitters to a highball glass.
The Elderflower Spritz
Another modern twist on the beloved Aperol Spritz, this delicate, herbal concoction is perfect for any hot, summer day. All you need to make one is some vodka, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, seltzer, and lime wheels for a garnish. Simply pour your ingredients into a wine glass, stir a little, and watch the magic happen.
The Fuzzy Navel
This cocktail embodies what a summer cocktail should look, feel, and taste like. In the 1980s, when super-sweet and fruity drinks went into a frenzy, the Fuzzy Navel was born. And, as it only requires two ingredients — peach schnapps and orange juice — it remains a fan favorite to this day.
The Ray of Sunshine
This glass of sunshine is a riff on the modern classic Penicillin cocktail. While the Penicillin is an entirely whiskey-based cocktail, the Ray of Sunshine employs a split base of aged rum and whiskey. To make one, combine those spirits with lemon juice and ginger syrup. Topped off with soda water and garnished with a lemon peel, this complex yet refreshing drink will brighten anyone’s day.
The Ultimate Aperol Spritz
The Aperol Spritz is an ode to summer. To make one, you just need Aperol, Prosecco, and some club soda to top it off. Then, add an optional orange wedge or green olive as a garnish. Spend some time outside with this ultimate warm-weather cocktail.