It seems like everyone I know could use a drink right now. Whether they’re raising a glass to the last days of summer or bracing themselves for what could be a rough fall, a well-made cocktail has felt like a necessity for the past year. Besides, if you’re working from home, who would even know if you’re day drinking?
So if the delta variant makes you want a shot of something that’s not a vaccine, here are some easy recipes for stirring up your cocktail game.
16 of the Best Cocktails to Close Out the Summer
“My favorite thing about aperitivo culture is that it’s meant to be relaxed. It’s an occasion to hang out with friends, snack on little bites, and share a drink that reflects the moment. And an Italicus Spritz ticks that box perfectly. It’s bright and complex, yet totally familiar in taste. Everyone has experienced bergamot even if they haven’t realized it—in Earl Grey tea, a bath bomb, even perfume. When I make a spritz, I don’t measure. I eyeball a 2:1 ratio of Prosecco and Italicus, give it a mix, and taste to see if I want to adjust it. Top it off with a green olive (that’s the snack component) and I’m set. You don’t need a fancy bottle of bubbles or olives, but you can level up if you want—so you can basically do a one-stop shop to pick up all the ingredients and then make a big batch to share with friends.” —Haley Forest, U.S. brand ambassador at Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
1 part Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
2 parts Prosecco (or Champagne)
Method: Serve in a tumbler glass with cubed ice and garnish with olives
“I created this recipe because in summer it is a great way to enjoy the flavors of a nice single malt in a very fresh drink. It’s also a great modern recipe that is becoming very well known all over, but with my personal twist.” —Santiago Vásquez, founder at Antimixologist (Miami, Florida)
2 oz. Benriach The Original Ten
0.75 oz. passion fruit pulp
0.75 oz. ginger syrup
0.25 oz. Benriach The Smoky Ten
1 dash of lemon bitters
Dried lemon wheel for garnish
Method: Add The Original Ten, The Smoky Ten, passionfruit pulp, ginger syrup and bitters into the shaker, add ice and shake well, double strain over a big ice cube into a rocks glass, garnish with a dried lemon wheel.
“The Kentucky Heyday is a lovely summer bourbon cocktail. It’s bright and floral and it would be at home on any sunny patio. All of the ingredients are easily sourced and the drink is a breeze to put together or can even be batched. With all we have been through in the past year keeping things light and simple seems like the most appropriate way to enjoy a cocktail.” —Ali Martin, head bartender at The Up & Up (New York, New York)
1 part Knob Creek bourbon
¾ part elderflower liqueur
¾ part dry vermouth
½ part lemon juice
Directions: Shake and drain into a coupe glass.
“My goal was to pack a lot of flavor into three ingredients that could easily travel to the park or a friend’s stoop. So this is inspired by a Paloma, but amped up with some smoke and bitter orange. A squeeze of fresh lime pairs perfectly with the ripe grapefruit notes.” —Meaghan Dorman, bar director at Raines Law Room & Dear Irving (New York, New York)
1.5 oz. mezcal
0.5 oz. Campari
2 oz. Fever-Tree sparkling pink grapefruit
Method: Serve over ice with lime wedge.
To Batch in Mason Jar That Serves Three: Mix 1 small bottle Fever-Tree pink grapefruit soda, 1.5 ounces Campari, and 4.5 ounces mezcal. Serve with 3 limes wedges and have ice available.
“This cocktail is perfect for summer, especially our second one in a pandemic, as it’s just so refreshing. We love the Yoon Highball because we use a pine tree-infused soju, damsol, that we get from KMS Imports, with muddled perilla leaf and cucumber. The mixing of these three ingredients is very common in Korean culture and we wanted to bring this flavor profile to our guests in New York. If finding the damsol proves too challenging you can always substitute vodka (preferably, Grey Goose).” —Henry Yoo, manager at Yoon Haeundae Galbi (New York, New York)
1.5 oz. Damsol soju
0.5 oz. St. Germain
0.5 oz. simple syrup
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
club soda, to top
3 cucumber slices (sliced long or angled)
2 perilla leaves
Method: Add 2 cucumber slices and 1 perilla leaf to a shaker and muddle. Add Soju, St. Germain, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice to the shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with club soda. Garnish with remaining cucumber slice and perilla leaf.
BEST COAST JULEP
“In making this Los Angeles-inspired version of a Mint Julep I chose to use kombucha as a nod to the cult of health here L.A. It’s the place where health food trends start, are propagated, and become part of the identity of the city. The mango in the kombucha plays deliciously well with the toasty barrel aromas in the Town Branch bourbon and reminds me of the Mexican fruit carts that are all over the city. The aromatics and visual appeal of mint in the classic Mint Julep are so important and I wanted to recreate that effect. As SoCal is known for its citrus, lime was the perfect replacement. The aromatics from the oils in the peel add a subtle layer of complexity to the drink—and the palm tree garnish smells great and looks like a day at the beach.” —Sarah Mengoni, founder at Historically Drinking at barkeep at (Los Angeles, California)
1.5 oz. Town Branch bourbon
2.5 oz. mango kombucha (I used GT’s since it seems to be widely available across the country)
½ tsp. white granulated sugar
2 swaths of lime peel
Half a lime, hollowed out
Method: Trim lime shell to look like a palm tree, make a hole in the end, and put a straw through it (metal straws work perfectly!) Put sugar and lime swaths into your julep cup. Stir. Add 1 ounce kombucha and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining the kombucha (1.5 ounces) and bourbon. Fill the cup three-quarters up with crushed ice and stir until the cup has a nice thick frosty coating on the outside, then top with more crushed ice, give it a few more stirs, and insert palm tree straw.
HAKU LIME AND YUZU HIGHBALL
“There are a few staples I keep in my refrigerator at home: quality mixers and vermouth. In my freezer, you will find a bottle of Japanese whisky, a solera gin martini, and currency: a bottle of Haku vodka. It’s crisp, zippy, and luscious straight out of the freezer—and makes the most amazing vodka soda. But not just any vodka soda. I was so inspired when I first tasted the Fever-Tree Sparkling lime and yuzu, the zinging citrus with subtle floral tones seemed the perfect pairing for French vermouth and Japanese rice vodka. The drink practically made itself, and I just poured. This is the perfect drink to make at home—keep all of your ingredients cold and think of this recipe as a template. And don’t be afraid to free pour!” —Julia Momose, founder at Kumiko (Chicago, Illinois)
1.5 oz. Haku vodka
1 oz. blanc vermouth
Fever-Tree sparkling lime and yuzu, topper
Directions: Fill a tumbler with ice. Stir to chill and pour off the melted water. Measure the vodka and vermouth over the ice. Stir to chill. Then, top off with Fever-Tree sparkling lime & yuzu. Try to pour directly into the chilled spirits so as to retain as much effervescence as possible. Garnish with edible flowers or a lemon twist.
“The story of the Cognaquiri. Quarantine was a tough time for everyone and I was faced with a devastating issue: All of my rum was gone. But the craving for a daiquiri still existed. I started to reach for the tequila, but no—that’s a margarita. Then, I reached for the gin. No luck there—that’s a Gimlet. I only had one thing remaining: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac. Thus, the Cognaquiri was born. The outcome was pleasantly surprising. Crisp and refreshing with a wonderfully dark and rounded finish.” —P.J. Wagner, head bartender at Guild Row (Chicago, IL)
2 oz. Ferrand 1840 cognac
1 oz. lime juice
0.75 oz. honey syrup (1:1 honey to water)
Method: Combine ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Strain and serve up.
“The best way to dramatically enhance the flavor of your cocktail is to use high quality, fresh ingredients, and always use fresh-pressed citrus juice for the brightest flavors. This cocktail is a perfect refreshing concoction—great for a hot summer holiday like July 4th.” —Barlow Gilmore, mixologist and spokesperson at Peroni
1 oz. bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
5 oz. Peroni
Method: Add all ingredients to your glass, add ice and then stir. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a fresh sprig of mint.
“The Whiskey Smash is upgraded with freshly muddled orange slices to bring out the vanilla, ripe plum, and floral notes of Jefferson’s Very Small Batch. Everything for this cocktail can be found easily at your local grocery store and prepped a day before to make your next cocktail a snap! This drink is a great one to prep a full pitcher of and pour out for your guests at any social distanced summer gathering. If you want to make them to order, have all your mint leaves picked and stored in a lidded container with a damp towel in the fridge. These will stay fresh for a few days. Orange slices too can be prepped the day before stored similarly.” —Jane Danger, national mixologist at Pernod Ricard
2 oz. Jefferson’s Very Small Batch
0.75 oz. lemon juice
0.75 oz. simple syrup
8 mint leave
3 orange slices
Method: Build in shaking tin. Press mint and orange slices. Add Ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass and top with fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and orange slice
“It’s a light and refreshing cocktail perfectly suited to the long hot days of summer. The coconut water adds a pleasantly earthy and tropical note that plays beautifully with the honeyed malt notes of the whiskey. The green tea provides a gentle grassiness (and a vivid green tint), with the cane syrup mellowing the tea’s vegetal notes while echoing the soft confectionary spices of Knappogue 12 Year. The grated and inserted cinnamon stick over the top both echoes and contrasts with the flavors, while also adding a lovely color contrast.” —Joaquín Simó, partner at Pouring Ribbons (New York, New York)
2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12 Year Irish whiskey
3 oz. Vita Coco coconut water
0.5 oz. rich cane sugar syrup**
0.25 tsp. matcha
Method: Combine all ingredients into a mixing tin (add tea last) and shake vigorously without ice to thoroughly incorporate the matcha into the liquids. Fill rocks glass with ice to the top, then pour ice into mixing tin. Shake very briefly—but vigorously—to just chill ingredients. Pour liquid and ice from mixing tin into rocks glass, grate cinnamon stick over top, and place cinnamon stick atop the ice.
THE BOTANIST AND TONIC
“I’m usually drinking Botanist & Tonics year-round, but particularly as it warms up in the summer. Refreshing and zippy, it’s perfect to mark the end of a workday and the beginning of cocktail hour. G&Ts are easy to whip up at home, but you have to make quality choices because there are only two ingredients, without much to hide behind. The Botanist Islay dry gin is terrific in any gin cocktail, but I love seeing it shine in this simple format. It’s distilled with a unique combination of 22 hand-foraged botanicals on the Isle of Islay, off the coast of Scotland, all expertly weaved together to create a wide variety of flavors that highlight any seasonal garnish.” —Emily Arseneau, director at Collectif 1806
2 oz. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
4 oz. tonic
Your favorite seasonal garnish—get creative!
Method: Add ingredients into a highball glass and garnish with lime, thyme, or mint.
“The idea behind this martini was to have a lighter, more approachable version of a classic martini that would appeal to a wider audience whilst also being enjoyable for a guest who drinks martinis all the time. The base structure is that of a classic martini. The nettle cordial softens off the punchy nature of the martini with some grassy, citrusy notes and the vermouth ties it all together. The great thing about the Foraged Martini is that everything is available to buy in a shop. It is a wonderful example that making great drinks doesn’t necessarily have to come with fancy equipment or esoteric, obscure ingredients.” —Noel Venning, Owner at Three Sheets (London, United Kingdom)
Photo courtesy of Three Sheets
1.5 oz. Absolut Elyx
0.25 oz. dry Italian vermouth
0.25 oz. wild nettle cordial
Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker over ice and stir to dilute and chill. Double strain into a coupette or Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with lemon zest and sprig of Gypsophila (baby’s breath).
“This curveball is deceptively refreshing—and an effective counterbalance to a bright, hot day. Some people may wince at the mention of absinthe in their drink, but when used in moderation it becomes less about its high-proof licoricey jolt—and more about supporting the cooling, vegetal notes of the cucumber. The angelica in Fords provides depth to this, making it a three-part harmony with bitters on top. The goal for this drink is that it’s sessionable.” —Joe Brooke, brand advocate at Fords Gin (Southwest)
1.5 oz. Fords gin
1 dash (or ½ barspoon) absinthe
0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
2 ounces sparkling water
1 dash Angostura bitters
2 cucumber slices
1 lemon and 1 lime wheel
Method: Add all ingredients except sparkling water into shaker and shake until chilled. Strain over ice in rocks glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a cucumber slice, lemon, and lime wheels.
Batched Recipe (Makes Approximately 10 Servings):
16 oz. Fords gin
1 oz. Absinthe
4 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. fresh lime juice
6 dashes Angostura bitters
½ cup sugar
32 ounces sparkling water
16 cucumber wheels (thin)
8 lemon wheels
8 lime wheels
Method: Peel 3 limes and 3 lemons with a peeler and muddle peels with sugar in a large punch bowl or pitcher. Add Fords gin, absinthe, citrus juices, and Angostura bitters. Stir until well mixed. Carefully add ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with cucumber, lemon, and lime wheels. Serve in punch or rocks glasses, adding ice as needed.
“Penicillin is my go-to Scotch cocktail as the days heat up. The combination of ginger, honey and lemon served over ice is a refreshing (yet familiar) recipe that can easily be made at your own home bar. The modern classic recipe delivers a tangy sweet and smoky peat flavor that reflects the influence of the five different casks used to mature Laphroaig Select, making it the perfect introduction to the sublime smokiness that is Laphroaig. —Simon Brooking, master scotch ambassador at Beam Suntory
2 parts blended Scotch whisky
¾ part honey ginger syrup (preferably from Cheeky)
¾ part fresh lemon juice
¼ part Laphroaig Select Islay single malt Scotch whisky
Candied ginger, garnish
Method: Combine blended Scotch whisky with the honey-ginger syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large cubes. Top with Laphroaig Select Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky and garnish with candied ginger.
TAP & PRESS
“This drink is a hard earned nod to hiking in Vermont on those hot August days where the reward to your effort is a delicious refreshing cocktail. Sipping on it makes me look forward to the changing of the seasons and fall. I made a refreshing late summer sour-style cocktail—blending the warming spices of the ginger apple cider and amaro, spiked with refreshing lemon, all anchored by the oak and maple flavors reminiscent of Vermont by using Mad River Distillers maple cask rum!” —Chris O’Neill, bar manager at Deuxave (Boston, Massachussetts)
1.5 oz. Mad River maple cask rum
0.75 oz. Ramazotti Amaro
0.5 oz. lemon juice
Method: Shake all ingredients without cider. Strain over rocks and top with cider. Garnish with lemon wheel and candied ginger.