As summer temperatures start to climb, nothing cools you down like the perfect summer cocktail.
These classic cocktails keep the flavor light, but they still contain a nice nip of booze. Because what’s a picnic on a beautiful summer day without a little buzz, thank you very much? Mix these ditties up if you’re hosting guests on your patio, bringing a pitcher to watch the fireworks, or just cooling down on a toasty day.
What says summer picnic more than watermelon? Only boozy watermelon—and no, we’re not talking about that old college trick of sticking a whole bottle of vodka into the fruit (gross!). Watermelons are very easy to muddle, and you can use the fruit to make any number of drinks more refreshing. For example, to fruit-ify your margarita, take a few chunks of watermelon and mush them up in the bottom of a glass. Then build your normal cocktail with lime, triple sec, sugar and tequila on top of that. Shake it up, and pour – you can always add a few more watermelon pieces to taste. Just one tip for this one: go seedless. Picking big black seeds out of your mouth while you drink = no fun.
Here are more great watermelon ideas. Some are non-alcohlic, but you can easily add your favorite lighter liqueur (like vodka):
Champagne is a summer drinker’s dream. It’s refreshing, light and much lower in alcohol than spirits like vodka, meaning you can knock back a few glasses without worrying about falling over. Champagne cocktails are simple affairs—everyone knows the classic Mimosa, which is a glass of champagne with a dash of OJ. Try to get a little more creative. St. Germain is an elderflower liqueur, and its earthiness and floral notes pair really well with a dry bubbly. Just pour a small shot into a glass of sparkling wine, and you’re good to go.
Looking for more champagne suggestions? These are a few great picks to try:
Spiked Arnold Palmer
No, we’re not talking about a boozed-up golf player. An Arnold Palmer is half lemonade and half iced tea, named for the famous golfer, who drank way too many of these. A spiked Arnold palmer is—you guessed it—iced tea, lemonade and vodka. This drink is super easy to make, but trust me, it will hit the spot. This is good for large parties, as you don’t have to be too precise with measurements. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into a pitcher and grab the ice cubes. As a general rule, use equal parts lemonade and iced tea, and then add a pour of vodka that’s about a quarter of that amount.
There’s more than one way to squeeze a lemon. Here’s a couple other takes on a summer lemonade:
If you’re going to go for Kentucky’s favorite drink, don’t try to take the easy way out. A julep isn’t a julep without tons of crushed ice—if you skimp on this part, you’ll get a drink that’s both way too strong and not cold enough. Also, you should only make a julep with fresh mint—none of that sickly sweet syrup, even if it is easier to mix. If you can whip up the perfect julep, you most definitely will beat the heat. It may be partially due to the booze quotient, but hey, whatever works!
While it’s really hard to mess with the original, here’s one more take on this Kentucky classic:
This rum drink is perennially popular in Bermuda and yep, it’ss perennially warm there. Like the julep, a good swizzle wouldn’t be the same without crushed ice—so make sure your blender can demolish some cubes before making an attempt. The beverage is a mix of black and gold rum that’s balanced out with juice from pineapples, lemons and oranges. Bitters and grenadine are also added, making this a fruity breeze that will leave you wishing it was summer all year long.
Here are a few rum drinks that’ll put a little rum-tum-tum into your glass: