There’s just something about long days and warm weather that calls for refreshing drinks to be sipped and enjoyed on your front porch or back patio. Whether it’s a boozy concoction or a tasty mocktail, it somehow doesn’t feel quite like summer unless you’re beating the heat with a cool drink in hand.
We spoke to three professional bartenders on Thumbtack to get their favorite summer cocktails and creative twists on classic lemonade.
The Summertime Fine
This classic combination of cucumber, vodka and lemon is the perfect poolside drink, courtesy of Mia Valenzuela of Mia’s Martini in Los Angeles, California. “Vodka is such a versatile liquor, so it’s able to take on the flavors of the fruits it’s paired with. We pair it with cucumber, more cucumber, and San Pellegrino Limonata to create a sophisticated and balanced cocktail. It has a bright, light finish, and considering it’s made with a fruit that’s 96% water, there’s no better way to stay hydrated during spring and summer!”
- 1.5 oz Grey Goose (or vodka of choice)
- 0.75 oz cucumber simple syrup
- 2.5 oz San Pellegrino Limonata
- Muddled cucumber
- Lemon wheel and cucumber slice
In a cocktail shaker:
- Add vodka and several slices of fresh cucumber to muddle
- Add cucumber simple syrup
- Add ice
- Shake well and strain into an ice-filled glass
- Fill to brim with San Pellegrino Limonata
- Garnish with lemon wheel and cucumber slice
Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade
“I love whiskey. And bourbon and lemonade go perfectly together. It offers the sweet, earthy, oaky depth you need for a cocktail of this caliber,” says Mia of Mia’s Martini. “Pair bourbon with lemon, sugar, and the natural sweetness of ripe blackberries to create a well-articulated grown-up version of a summer classic.”
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey
- 2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 6 blackberries
- Lemon wheel
- Mint garnish
In a cocktail shaker:
- Muddle blackberries and bourbon
- Add lemon juice and simple syrup
- Add ice
- Shake well and double-strain into an ice-filled glass
- Garnish with lemon wheel, blackberry and pressed mint
“The perfect summer drink needs to be refreshing, bright and sophisticated with some complexity,” explains Will Franklin of Seattle Bartending Co. in Seattle, Washington. “The paloma cocktail is all of these and more. Fresh grapefruit is bright enough to wake up your taste buds, tequila is earthy and a little floral, agave nectar adds a bit sweetness to cut through the bitter, and club soda adds effervescence and texture. Voilá! The perfect summer cocktail.”
- 1.5 oz tequila
- 0.5 oz agave nectar
- 2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- Club soda
- Garnish with salt and a squeeze of lime (optional)
“Lemonade should be all about summertime refreshment. This warm weather classic variation lifts you up with sweet tart lemons, then brings you back with the clean cool of cucumbers,” explains Will of Seattle Bartending Co.
- 1 cup cucumber juice (blend and strain approx. 1 lb of peeled cucumbers)
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup cane simple syrup (or to taste)
- 2 cups cold water
- Cucumber wheels to garnish
The Ti’ Punch
“Our favorite summer drink is called the Ti’ Punch—a very simple drink from Martinique, using the local variety of rum, called rum agricole. The rum is made from fresh sugarcane, and is pressed, fermented, and distilled. It is much more aromatic than industrial rums produced from molasses—and has an almost grassy, or green olive flavor. This is one for folks who like their drinks on the stiff side; if an Old Fashioned is your go to, you should give this one a shot,” explains Rosa Lynley of the bartending duo Sharpshooter in San Francisco, California.
- 1.5-2 oz rum agricole blanc (Neisson, J.M., or the elusive Capovilla ‘Rhum Rhum’ are preferred)
- A bar spoon of cane syrup (Agricole producers like those above bottle their cane sugar syrup separately for just this drink. If you can not find it, a rich 2:1 simple syrup will work just fine)
- A peel of lime, with a bit of the pulp. (Cutting a circle roughly half-dollar sized is a good rule of thumb.)
In a rocks glass:
- Combine the rum and cane syrup.
- Take the peel of lime, squeeze the juice into the glass, and rub around the inside of the glass. Don’t be gentle; you want the oils from the peel just as much as the juice.
- Drop the peel in, add a rock, and give a brief stir.
Grill something great to go with that drink. Try these pro chef’s secrets for a better burger.