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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 12 ideal options.

The Nix Company / Unsplash

Summer stands for fun, from vacations to meandering Vespa rides. To keep the carefree and celebratory spirit alive all season long, 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 are tasting at their best right this 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 stellar 12 excellent and unique summer cocktails.

Yuzu Smash Cocktail

Yuzu Smash 

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 together and let sit at least 24 hours.  In a pot, add the macerated peels and sugar, along with 16 ounces lemon juice, and heat on low heat until the sugar fully dissolves. Remove from heat, let sit 5-10 minutes, then strain out the peels.


  1. Shake, serve on smashed cold draft ice with a strip of nori in a rocks glass.
Noah's Ark Cocktail

Noah’s Ark

Summer is a unique time of the year and your cocktail ought to 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 glass and garnish with a cucumber strip, fresh mint, and watermelon cube.
Strawberry Bramble Cocktail
Blue Stripes Urban Cacao

Cacao Fruit Strawberry Bramble 

We love strawberry, whether it’s a tasting note from a good pink wine or the real thing, thrown into a lovely cocktail. This one blends the stone 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 Cocktail
Juan Coronado

American Collins

The Tom Collins cocktail should be in your 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.


  • 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.
Zacapa Mojito
Zacapa Rum

Guatemalan Mojito

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.


  • 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 juice, simple syrup, and mint leaves in 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.
A Valerie Gin and Tonic.
Valerie NYC

Tart Gin & Tonic

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. 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
LyAnna Sanabria/Round Turn Distilling

Coconut Negroni

Three-ingredient cocktails don’t get much better than the Negroni. Take it to the next level by swapping in some tropical coconut notes.


  • 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.
Beergarita Beer Cocktail
B52 Brewing

Orange Beergarita

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 (1 can of 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.
shaken vesper james bond cocktail book
Vesper. John Carey

Irish Vesper

The Vesper is a classic gin cocktail with an intriguing simplicity to it all. If you nail the ingredients, as this cocktail does, you’re in heaven.



  1. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  2. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Silver Sands Punch
Mount Gay

Silver Sands Punch

A summer cocktail list is left wanting without a good punch recipe. 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 ginger
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 1 pineapple, core removed, cut into chunks


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

Ardbeg Daiquiri

Here’s a smoky take on the classic Daiquiri, great for sipping or washing down smoked foods this grilling season.


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


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

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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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