The weather is hot, the days are long, and there’s nothing better to cap off a hard day’s work or an evening of beach hopping quite like a crisp summer cocktail. Regardless as to your poison of choice may be (ahem, tequila, anyone?), there’s a summer cocktail waiting for you. We bring for your viewing — and drinking — delight our top five favorite warm-weather libations.
Margarita: Few drinks scream summer fun quite like a margarita. Whether frozen or on the rocks, salted or unsalted, the classic margarita’s distinctive flavor is the perfect addition to any late-night dinner or happy hour celebration. Though I subscribe to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to my margarita preferences, I’m never one to discourage some experimentation when it comes to flavors. Blood orange, strawberry, mango…whatever tickles your fancy is worth a try.
La Piñela: If a little extra kick is what you’re on the hunt for, might I suggest Rosa Mexicana’s la piñela. The balance between pineapple and tequila makes for a drink that is subtle enough for an after-work cocktail, but still strong enough to satisfy even a modern-day Bacchus. But what makes this drink even more unique? The cinnamon-sugar rim that accompanies it. Rather than simply using granulated sugar on its own, la piñela is rimmed with a combination of spices that complements the drink instead just being disregarded as an afterthought garnish.
Mojito: The first of two classic rum drinks that are summer drinking musts, the mojito is, admittedly, not for everyone. The mint leaves and strong taste can often be a turnoff for some. But if you can learn to appreciate the less sweet, more cool refreshing taste and consistency, there’s no doubt that this Cuban staple will become your new summer mainstay.
Caipirinha: Once you learn the correct pronunciation of this Brazilian libation (trust us, it’s phonetic), you’ll want to order it every summer brunch, dinner and evening you get the chance. Thought of as a cousin to the mojito, the caipirinha relies less on ingredients like mint leaves or other additions, and more on the pure taste of cachaça, a rum made from fermented sugarcane juice. The beauty of the caipirinha comes in its transformative abilities. Instead of going the traditional route by including lime in the recipe, drinkers of all stripes can sub in the ingredients that tickle their palates most.
Beachcomber: For those beachside revelers who would rather not make the choice between vodka and rum, the Beachcomber provides a happy median. Incorporating vodka and coconut rum, the Beachcomber relies on a heavenly mix of citrus flavors (orange, pineapple, etc.) to make a drink worthy of fun in the sweltering sun.
Peach Vodka Lemonade: There’s not too much mystery behind what makes peach vodka lemonade such a summer staple, but in its simplicity comes a fun, light drink perfect for an afternoon of rooftop socializing. Mixing vodka, peach Schnapps and lemonade, this drink — like many other summery cocktails — relies heavily on citrus flavors to give drinkers a cool, crisp tasting beverage without sacrificing the flavor of the liquor itself.
Tom Collins: While summer doesn’t really scream Don Draper, the Tom Collins is a classic drink that should not be overlooked in the warm-weather cocktail conversation. Made with fresh lemon juice, sugar, gin and lemon slices, the Tom Collins definitely has an old-school, barebones taste, but if something less tropical tasting is your thing, then this drink is the perfect late-night libation.
Martini: Nothing can get classier, more sophisticated than sipping on a martini, regardless of the time of year. And while the martini lacks the citrus taste that is often the hallmark of beach-ready booze, the reason this particular cocktail made our roundup of summer must-drinks was simple: The martini’s silkiness, flavor and balance allows it to be combined with a wide range of flavors to make it adaptable for any time of the year, any occasion, any particular drinker’s preferences.