Seasonal cocktails are what you make of them, quite literally. For our warmer weather, we like sweeter, lighter flavors with citrus and tropical fruits, along with a few herbaceous influences. Anything that sips easy and can stand up to long sessions of sensible, responsible consumption, preferably on a porch, patio, or deck is what we’re after. These are the best summer cocktails for the hot days ahead.

Garden Herb Gin Gimlet

Summer is the perfect time for drinking cocktails packed with herbs and herby flavors, and since the gimlet is made with gin, it starts off with those notes. Then you drop a few herbs into some simple syrup and ratchet things up even more. It’s easy to mix up and lends itself well to making large batches, which is perfect for sitting out on the porch in the evening unwinding during the warmer months. A gimlet is also one of those drinks that tastes way fancier than it really is, so you’ll get plenty of mixology credit with very little effort. Recipe

Charred Lemon Whiskey Sour

Grilled lemons are one of the best kept secrets of the summer. It’s minimal effort to get a good char on a lemon half, with the main challenge just being that you need to pay attention. From there, it’s a fairly traditional cocktail, and a great addition to the long lineage of delicious sour cocktails. Recipe

Grilled Watermelon Habanero Margarita

As long as you’re not using a pre-made mix, margaritas are one of the best standards in mixology. They’re reliable, delicious, and simple. They’re also a great base to experiment with and adapt well to changes. The spice from the pepper and the sweetness of the watermelon mix really well to make a drink we’ll be happy to serve all summer long. It doesn’t hurt that it doubles as a snack too. Recipe

Midsummer’s Heat

Here’s another spicy cocktail for the adventurous among us. This one’s a little easier to prep ingredients for, since the big attraction comes in a bottle. It’s a pretty straightforward bourbon smash cocktail with a healthy ounce of the rightfully intimidating Caged Heat Cocktail Syrup. Buying the syrup is even straightforward. You can pick it up on Amazon and it’s Prime eligible. Past that, we’re assuming you know how to get your hands on blackberries, lime juice, and bourbon. Recipe

Berry Basil Lemonade

We used to relegate basil strictly to red sauce, pizza, and caprese salads, but we’ve opened our minds since those dark days. Now, we find that it takes some of the syrupy sweetness out of things with too much sugar, like what this cocktail is quickly approaching. Dropping some basil into this drink makes it a bit more adult and complicates the flavors in a way that we find very rewarding. We could drink two of these per night for the rest of the summer. We shouldn’t and won’t, because that would be unhealthy. But we could. Recipe

The Paddy Cocktail

We’re not sure why someone went out of their way to name this cocktail something different than an Irish Whiskey Manhattan. The only thing we can think of is some cocktail purist finding it offensive that someone’s mixing Manhattans with anything other than bourbon. What we’d say to that person is that their bourbon Manhattan’s offensive to real purists, since the first were mixed with rye. Besides, what do they care? It’s a good drink and people enjoy themselves when they have it. Recipe

Añejo Smash

In our experience, tequila gets a bad rap. We’re doing what we can to combat it, but it’s slow going. Still, we’re confident in our ability to bring you tequila drinks that won’t make you feel like an American blindly tearing your way through Mexico. Like this añejo smash. It’s a little more complicated than some of the other drinks here, but not in a pretentious way. More in the way that you’ll feel like you’re earning your buzz more than if you’d just shot the tequila and licked some salt off your hand. Recipe

The Elvis Cocktail

This drink should come with a disclaimer. It’s going to hit you hard and fast. There may or may not be an Elvis joke to make there, but that’s not really where our minds were going. We were still focused on alcohol content. There’s gin, St. Germain, and a grapefruit IPA in here and all told, you’re probably dealing with two and a half standards drinks worth of alcohol here, if not more. Not that we want that to stop you. This is a delicious drink and unlike anything else we’ve been drinking this summer. Just, again, it’s very, very strong. Recipe

Cherry Bourbon Smash

When you’re practicing your mixology, don’t make your efforts too complicated. Stick with flavors you know and methods that have a forgiving margin of error. Cherries are a tasty fruit, bourbon is a household standard, and mint simple syrup is quickly becoming a constant in our fridge. Tossing all those together in a glass, with a few other simple ingredients, is about as easy and relaxing as our summertime drinks can get. Recipe

DIY Watermelon Keg

When you can take extra steps to make your cocktail a conversation piece at a party, you might as well do it. Plus, making a cocktail this way means you have fewer dishes to do at the end of the night. Or, more realistically, the next morning. This suggestion is really about the delivery system, not the cocktail. You can make pretty much anything you want in here, as long as it involves watermelon. Hell, two birds one stone, why not try making the grilled watermelon habanero margarita from a few entries up? Recipe


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