Belly Up to the Bar–Easy Summer Cocktails

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
how to make great summer cocktails

It’s 10:30 am in the cocktail test kitchen.  We’re mixing up summer cocktails. Okay, gentlemen, it’s time to lighten up the bar with some easy summer cocktails. Store the single malts and get prepared to serve a few bright and bubbly hot weather classics.

Summer Ades

There is no summer without lemonade and limeade. These flavors are the basis for scads of refreshing cocktails. To sweeten the sour, your only task is to make simple syrup, a one to one ratio of sugar to water. Heat a cup of each in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar. Cool and refrigerate. It will last indefinitely. Now splash a little into any cocktail that needs sweetening. The other key is fresh juice. Get yourself a hefty metal citrus squeezer and keep an eye out for bags of lemons and limes on sale. Both the Tall Summer Sour and Mojito are fizzed up with club soda.

summer cocktails

Tall Summer Sour

2 ounces whiskey or vodka

2 ounces fresh lemon juice

2 ounces simple syrup

Club soda

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup. Top with club soda.

Garnish with a cherry or orange  slice.


Several sprigs fresh mint

½ teaspoon sugar (to help bruise the mint)

2 ounces white rum

2 ounces fresh lime juice

2 ounces simple syrup

Club soda

Muddle the mint sprigs with the sugar in the bottom of a tall glass. Fill with ice. Add the rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig.

Coke Cocktails

Jack and Coke may be the most popular cocktail in the world and for good reason.It’s delicious.In fact, Coke’s fizzy caramel chemistry is magic.It goes great with any brown spirit except Scotch including George, Mark, Jim and Crown.And don’t forget the Cuba Libre.Blend Coke with dark rum and lots of fresh lime.

Jack and Coke

2 ounces Jack Daniel’s (or your favorite)


Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the Jack. Top with coke. Garnish with a cherry, lemon, or orange slice. Make this with your other favorite brown spirits, too.

Cuba Libre

2 ounces dark rum

Juice of half a lime


Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the rum and lime juice. Top with coke. Garnish with a lime wedge.


The Michelada is the much more refreshing and versatile Mexican-style Bloody Mary that’s not confined to Sunday brunch. Salt the rim of a roomy glass. Add ice and about half of a Mexican lager like Tecate or Corona. Think two parts beer to 1 part tomato. Use Clamato juice cocktail for its lighter consistency and blendability. The drink should look bubbly and light pinkish, not heavy red. Add Worcestershire sauce, a healthy squeeze of lemon or lime, and plenty of hot sauce.

Gin Tonics

It’s risky to tinker with a classic late hot afternoon gin and tonic. However, try this worthy variation that combines the cool refreshment of a G and T with the earthiness of a Negroni (a classic combo of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth). Like Campari, bitter tonic benefits from the sweet floral notes of vermouth. Serve with a good squeeze of lime.

G and T Negroni

2 ounces gin

½to 1 ounce sweet vermouth


Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the gin and sweet vermouth. Top with tonic. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Prosecco and Cava Cocktails

Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava are fashionable, affordable champagne substitutes ideal for combining with a little fruit juice or liqueur. A good ratio is no more than ¼ juice to the sparkling wine or about ½ ounce of liqueur per flute. Remember, you still want to enjoy the bubbles. Beyond the orange Mimosa and the peach Bellini, consider these other fruit flavors.

Cranberry juice

Pomegranate juice

Apricot nectar

Pineapple juice

Passion fruit

Crème de cassis, Grand Marnier, or Chambord

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