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These unique summer cocktails each offer a refreshing twist you’ll love

Need a great cocktail for the core of summer? Here are some ideal options

The Nix Company / Unsplash

Summer stands for fun, from vacations to meandering Vespa rides. If you want to keep the carefree and celebratory spirit alive all season long, may we suggest some quality cocktails?

The merits of summer cocktails are many. First, they cool you off during the hottest portion of the year. Secondly, they tend to incorporate seasonal ingredients that taste their best right that instant. Lastly, they’re just fun to make, whether you’re hosting a backyard party or just looking to tip a cap to happy hour on your lonesome.

However you go about your summer, try doing so with these excellent and unique summer cocktails.

Yuzu Smash

Yuzu Smash cocktail

An ideal summer cocktail involves three major components: Brightness, zest, and an overall refreshing quality. This drink achieves all of the above and then some.


  • 2 1/2 ounces Riesling (we suggest Carl Lowen or Weiser Kunstler)
  • 1/2 ounce Lustau Fino Sherry
  • 1/2 ounce lemon sorbet syrup*
  • 1/4 ounce yuzu

*Lemon sorbet syrup: Peel 4 lemons and add the peels to the 2 cups of sugar in a sealed container. Mix and let sit for at least 24 hours.  Add the macerated peels, sugar, and 16 ounces lemon juice in a pot, and heat on low heat until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from heat, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then strain out the peels.


  1. Shake and serve on smashed cold draft ice with a strip of nori in a rocks glass.

Noah’s Ark

Noah's Ark cocktail

Summer is a unique time of the year and your cocktail should reflect that. This complex drink from Zizi in NYC mixes up medicinal liqueurs with the sheer freshness of watermelon and cucumber.


  • 1 3/4 ounces Zachlawi Dry Arak
  • 1/4 ounce Omhpiko Mastiha liquor
  • 2 ounces fresh watermelon juice
  • 1/2 lime
  • Cucumber strip
  • Watermelon cube, mint, and Zaatar salt rim for garnish


  1. Mix equal amounts of Zaatar and salt in a shallow bowl.
  2. Rub a watermelon cube around half the rim of a tall glass.
  3. Dip one side of the watermelon cube in the Zaatar mix and leave the watermelon cube to the side.
  4. Combine Arak, Mastiha liquor, watermelon juice, lime juice, and a cup of ice in a shaker.
  5. Shake vigorously and strain over fresh ice into a glass and garnish with a cucumber strip, fresh mint, and watermelon cube.

Cacao fruit strawberry bramble

Strawberry Bramble Cocktail
Blue Stripes Urban Cacao

We love the flavor of strawberry whether it’s a tasting note from a good pink wine or the real thing that has been added into a lovely cocktail. And since summer time is strawberry time, it’s natural that a unique summer cocktail like the cacao fruit strawberry bramble would take advantage of that. This drink blends the fruit with the complementary chocolatey flavors of cacao.


  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 2 medium or large strawberries
  • 3/4 ounce 100% Cacao fruit
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 0unce simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice


  1. Muddle strawberries in shaker tin then add all other ingredients.
  2. Add ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail coupe glass.

American Collins

American Collins cocktail
Juan Coronado

The classic Tom Collins cocktail is definitely a drink that should be in your personal cocktail repertoire, whether you opt for the classic or a spinoff. This one, by Juan Coronado, utilizes an unlikely but delectable combo — tequila and Earl Grey tea. Think of it as a version of iced tea perfect for a hot summer afternoon.


  • 2 ounces Mijenta Tequila Blanco
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 ounces sparkling water
  • 1 ounce Earl Grey tea syrup


  1. In a highball glass filled with ice, add the tequila, lime juice, sparkling water, and Earl Grey tea syrup.
  2. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Guatemalan mojito

Zacapa Mojito
Zacapa Rum

We love using a quality mixing rum. Like the Collins, the Mojito is an iconic drink worthy of countless riffs. This venerable version is anchored by some tasty Guatemalan rum. Nothing says summer fun like a delicious mojito.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Zacapa 23 Rum
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 6-8 mint leaves, fresh
  • 1 tablespoon of simple syrup
  • Mint sprig for garnish


  1. Combine lime juvie, simple syrup, and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Muddle mint, juice, and sugar combination.
  3. Add rum and shake and pour mixture into a glass, add ice, and top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.

Tart gin and tonic

A Valerie gin and tonic
Valerie NYC

When you think of classic summer cocktails, if a gin and tonic isn’t number one on your list, it will be in at least the top three. A gin and tonic should be an invigorating enterprise and nobody does it better than the Spanish. This Euro-inspired version from Valerie is perfect for standing up to the scorching sun of summer.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Suntory Roku Gin
  • 1/2 ounce Suze
  • 4 dashes The Japanese Bitters yuzu bitters
  • 6 ounces Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon tonic


  1. Add gin, Suze, and bitters to a goblet filled with ice.
  2. Pour tonic into goblet, garnish with shiso leaves.

Jasmine tea spritz

Jasmine Tea Spritz

Ah, the spritz, everything that’s right about summer in liquid form. The beauty of the spritz cocktail is that it can take many forms and flavors, so there is a spritz recipe that can appeal to just about anyone. This one beautifully integrates the summer floral nature of jasmine with fresh peach and the briskness of a decent white wine (we suggest a good pinot grigio).


  • 1 part of Heimat White Peach liqueur
  • 1 part dry white wine
  • 1 part jasmine tea, chilled


  1. Combine all ingredients in a wine glass.
  2. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a slice of lemon.

Coconut negroni

Coconut Negroni
LyAnna Sanabria / Round Turn Distilling

Three-ingredient cocktails don’t get much better than the Negroni. The Negroni is generally thought of as an Italian drink (thanks to the Campari), but it can have a more tropical feel depending on the flavor of the gin you choose. This recipe takes the Negroni to the next level by swapping in some tropical coconut notes for traditional gin, giving it more of an island feel than a cocktail being sipped in a bar in Rome.


  • 1 ounce Bimini Coconut Gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth


  1. Stir all ingredients and serve over a large cube, garnished with an orange twist.

Orange beergarita

Beergarita Beer cocktail
B52 Brewing

A good beer cocktail is a great and summery way to fuse your favorite brew with your favorite mixed drink. Here’s a playful mashup of lager and a Margarita.


  • 16 ounces lager (we suggest B52 Cerveza)
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce triple sec or Cointreau
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce agave syrup
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 orange slices
  • Salt
  • Ice


  1. Pour some salt into a small plate.
  2. Coat the rim of two cocktail glasses with lime juice or syrup, then swirl them gently, face down, on the plate to create a salted rim.
  3. Add a few ice cubes to chill each glass and set aside.
  4. In a cocktail shaker or pint glass, muddle the orange slices with agave syrup and lime juice until the fruit is broken up.
  5. Fill the shaker halfway with ice, then pour in the tequila, triple sec, and orange juice and stir twice.
  6. Very gently, pour in about a third of the beer, going slowly to reduce foaming.
  7. Stir another couple of times, very gently.
  8. Dump the chilling ice from the glasses, and strain the contents of the shaker evenly into each over fresh ice or straight up.
  9. Top with the remaining beer and garnish with lime and orange slices, if desired.

Irish Vesper

Shaken vesper James Bond cocktail book
John Carey / John Carey

The Vesper is a classic gin cocktail with an intriguing simplicity to it all. If you nail the ingredients, as this cocktail, which features Irish gin and vodka, does, you’re in heaven. Also, if you want to impress your friends, you can let them know that the original Vesper recipe came from the world’s most famous spy, Bond, James Bond. The Bond novel Casino Royale contains the recipe for the drink (it’s also in the 2006 film of the same name with Daniel Craig as Bond), and Bond later names it after agent Vesper Lynd.


  • 2 ounces Dingle Original Gin
  • 3/4 ounce Dingle Artisan Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce white vermouth


  1. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  2. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Silver Sands Punch

Silver Sands Punch
Mount Gay

A summer cocktail list is left wanting without a good punch recipe. Nothing says summer like a delicious rum punch as you sit on the beach (or just imagining you’re sitting on the beach). This one blends the kick of ginger with the cool of pineapple for a rum-tastic afternoon imbiber.


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, cracked
  • 1 one-inch slices of ginger
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 pineapple, core removed, cut into chunks


  1. Add all ingredients but pineapple to a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add pineapple and simmer until the pineapple is just translucent.
  3. Press the pineapple to release juices and then strain out the solids and let it cool.

Ardbeg daiquiri

The Ardbeg daiquiri

Another cocktail that has to be on the list of classic summer cocktails is the daiquiri. A drink with Cuban origins, the combination of rum, sugar, and citrus is an island beach party in a glass. You can have it just on the rocks, or even frozen, which is perfect for the hottest days of the summer.  Here’s a smoky take on the classic daiquiri, that swaps Scotch whisky for rum, great for sipping or washing down smoked foods this grilling season.


  • 2 ounces Ardbeg 10-year Scotch
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup


  1. Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker tin with ice.
  2. Shake the cocktail and fine strain into a coupe glass, garnish, and serve.

Spicy lemonade spritz

Two glasses of Spicy Lemonade Spriz cocktail with bottle of organic hot agave in the raw
In The Raw®

Is there a more quintessential summer drink than lemonade? How many kids have spent a summer day trying to make some money at their own lemonade stand? Let’s face it, you almost can’t have summer without lemonade. But this lemonade is nothing that would be sold at a kids’ lemonade stand. It combines lemonade with the spice of hot agave syrup with and chili-lime seasoning. While this recipe doesn’t have alcohol, you could always add some vodka to give it a kick. Either way, it’s great for those lazy days of summer.


  •  3 fresh squeezed lemons
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Organic Hot AgaveIn The Raw®
  • 4 ounces sparkling water
  • Tajin seasoning to rim the glass (optional)
  • Lemon wheel (for garnish)


  1. Add the juice from the three squeezed lemons to a cocktail shaker
  2. Shake the bottle of Organic Hot Agave In The Raw and it to the shaker and stir.
  3. Rim the glass with Tajin for extra spice (optional).
  4. Pour spicy lemon juice into a glass over ice, top with sparkling water and lemon wheel.
Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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