7 Must-Try Cocktails for Summer

Whatever your spirit of choice, these warm-weather drinks will help keep you cooler than cool.
cocktails for summer

Whether you’re lounging by the pool, hosting a friend or sipping solo, these warm-weather drinks—all from notable female cocktail pros—will liven up your summer days. In the mood for a mocktail? We’ve got you covered.

HOLLEH MATLOCK, BRAND COORDINATOR AT HOTEL TANGO
HOTELTANGOWHISKEY.COM, @HOTELTANGODISTILLERY 

“I chose this cocktail because it’s easily sippable yet boozy, refreshing and citrus-forward, with notes of cucumber. It’s a great cocktail for relaxing on a patio, or by the pool. 

SUMMERTIME

— 2 oz. Hotel Tango Vodka

— 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

— 1/2 oz. simple syrup

— 1/2 oz. fresh pineapple juice

— 1/4 oz. fresh cucumber juice or 2-4 muddled cucumber slices

— 2 dashes orange bitters

Add all ingredients with ice to a cocktail shaker tin—Collins-shaped ice cubes are preferred. Shake vigorously until cold. “Dirty dump” (do not strain) into double rocks glass. Garnish with cucumber and dehydrated lemon—and pineapple leaf and edible flower if you’re feeling extra.

 

MOCKTAIL MODIFICATION

— 3/4 oz. lemon juice

— 3/4 oz. pineapple juice

— 1/2 oz. simple syrup

— 1/4 oz. cucumber juice or 2-4 muddled cucumber slices

— 1 orange wedge

Add ingredients with ice to cocktail shaker tin—Collins cubes are preferred. Shake vigorously until cold. Dirty dump (do not strain) into a Collins glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with cucumber and dehydrated lemon—and pineapple leaf and edible flower to mimic a fancy craft cocktail.

NIKI ROYAL, BAR MANAGER AT THE INFERNO ROOM
THEINFERNOROOM.COM, @THEINFERNOROOM

“Tiki cocktails are my background, so I naturally went in that direction. I wanted to highlight spirits with more green flavors, like rhum agricole and mezcal. In tiki drinks, island spices add depth and character, and I chose a higher-end spiced rum from Chairman’s Reserve. I added the juice of grapefruit and lemon for a refreshing summertime balance. The name ‘Smokin’ in the Girls Room’ is just a reminder that there’s a ton of badass women in the Indianapolis industry pushing the limits.”

SMOKIN’ IN THE GIRLS ROOM

— 3/4 oz. Rhum JM Agricole

— 1/2 oz. VIDA Mezcal

— 3/4 oz. Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum

— 1/2 oz. guava purée

— 1/2 oz. lemon juice

— 1/2 oz. red grapefruit juice

— 1/4 oz. grenadine

— 3 dashes Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters

Start by adding grenadine, guava purée, grapefruit and lemon juices, then rhum, rum and mezcal, and then finally tiki bitters all into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously, then strain over ice into a glass. Garnish with fresh mint, lemon and a cinnamon stick—the cinnamon stick is supposed to look like a cigarette, and the mezcal adds a smoky flavor, so it ties into the name of the drink. 

MARTINA JACKSON, PHOTOGRAPHER, LIFESTYLE BLOGGER, OWNER OF DREA & CO., AND CREATOR OF DRINKS WITH DREA
DREAANDCOMPANY.COM, @MARTINA.DREA

“Play around with this recipe to fit your liking—the St. Germain adds an amazing floral note with a bit of sweetness. The agave nectar intensifies those floral tones and balances out the sour punch of lemon. I love this cocktail, and I tend to make mine on the sweeter side!”

AGAVE & ELDERFLOWER RUM SOUR

— 1 1/2 oz. white rum

— 1 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

— 1 oz. lemon juice

— 1 oz. Tres Agaves Organic Agave Nectar

— 1 egg white—pasteurized if you’d prefer

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and “dry shake”without ice to combine for about 10 seconds. Then shake again with ice for 20 more seconds, until well chilled. Double strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Finish with a lemon and floral garnish. 

MOCKTAIL MODIFICATION: AGAVE AND ELDERFLOWER LEMONADE

— 1 oz. elderberry cordial

— 1 oz. lemon juice

— 1 oz. Tres Agaves Organic Agave Nectar

— 1 egg white—pasteurized if you’d prefer 

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and “dry shake”without ice to combine for about 10 seconds. Then shake again with ice for 20 more seconds, until well chilled. Double strain into a pretty glass and top with club soda. Finish with a lemon and floral garnish.

AUTUMN NETHERY, CO-OWNER & DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING AT JEPTHA CREED DISTILLERY
JEPTHACREED.COM, @JEPTHACREED

“The Rita’s Refresher is a great summer time cocktail! It’s like a margarita, but with bourbon instead of tequila; perfect for an evening on the porch after grilling dinner!” 

RITA’S REFRESHER

— 1/2 cup Jeptha Creed Straight 4-Grain Bourbon

— 1/2 oz. lime juice

— 1/2 oz. orange juice

— 1/2 oz. triple sec

— 1 oz. simple syrup

Add ice then ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake, then strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon and lime wedge. 

ZOE HAYES, EXECUTIVE BAR MANAGER AT SPOKE & STEELE
SPOKEANDSTEELE.COM, @SPOKEANDSTEELE

 “I love all the fresh fruit available in the summer, but also frozen fruit—it’s a great way to cool down! I made a quick maceration of frozen berries and sugar and mixed it with lemon and local West Fork The Colonel bourbon for a boozier taste of summer. A cayenne pepper, ancho chili, and sugar rim adds a sweet, spicy punch. Summer Saturdays always feel the way a Janis Joplin song sounds, to me, and I like to think she would’ve appreciated the bourbon in her namesake.”

THE JANIS

— 2 oz. West Fork Whiskey Co. The Colonel Bourbon

— 1 oz. (about a spoonful) macerated strawberries (see recipe below)

— 1 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake all ingredients together vigorously with a couple of ice cubes, then pour straight into a spice-rimmed glass over ice. Garnish with a few more frozen berries, if desired.

Spice blend for spice-rimmed glass:

Mix ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. ground ancho chili and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper. You can also use Penzeys Spices’ Pico Fruta, on which this is based. To rim glass, moisten the edge with sugar syrup and shake powder over the exterior of the glass. 

Macerated strawberries:

Mix 1 cup white granulated sugar and 1 cup (by weight) frozen strawberries, halved. Store in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Muddle mixture or briefly run through a food processor, then use. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.

MOCKTAIL MODIFICATION: SPICED STRAWBERRY LEMONADE

— 2 oz. macerated strawberries

— 2 oz. fresh lemon juice

— 2 oz. ginger beer

Shake the strawberries and lemon juice together with a couple of ice cubes and pour straight into a spice-rimmed glass over ice. Top with the ginger beer and gently stir.

NICOLE KEARNEY, OWNER OF SIP & SHARE WINES
SIPANDSHAREWINES.COM, @SIPANDSHAREWINES

“I love using my Abundance Sweet Red Wine as a base for sangria, since it’s a fruity, low-tannin red wine with flavors of juicy blood orange.”

SIP & SHARE SANGRIA

— 1 bottle of Abundance Sweet Red Wine

— 1 fresh orange

— Sliced fresh, ripe fruits, like strawberries, peaches, apples, pears or grapes

“Fruit infuses the wine with fresh flavor and sweetness, and gives the sangria a fun confetti vibe.”

— Your favorite spirit

“Your favorite spirit turns Abundance Sweet Red Wine into a true ‘Siptail’ and adds some kick. In the mood for a more mellow, lower-alcohol content sangria? You can skip the spirits, use less of them, or dilute the sangria with some club soda.”

— Sweetener, to taste

“I’m conservative with sweeteners, but sometimes a tiny bit helps balance the flavor of the spirit and rounds out the flavors. I also try to use natural sweetener when I can, and I’m excited to share that maple syrup is surprisingly awesome in sangria—it also keeps the sangria vegan. All of our wines are vegan as well. Real maple syrup offers a very subtle caramel-like flavor that plays well with red wine and adds some extra complexity. It blends right into the other ingredients, which is nice.”

Add the bottle of wine to a pitcher, then squeeze half of the orange into the wine. Thinly slice the other half of the orange and add it in, along with the other sliced fruit. Stir in your favorite spirit, then sweeten: Start with one tablespoon of maple syrup, stir and taste, then add more to taste. Sip, share and enjoy! 

Nicole Kearney photo: VKnoxArt.com
KATE STEELE-KANNOWSKI, BARTENDER AT BLUEBEARD
BLUEBEARDINDY.COM, @BLUEBEARDINDY 

“Pineapple is one of my favorite flavors, especially in the summertime, and since this Mai Tai has a nice, light hint of pineapple, each sip makes me feel like I’m in a tropical, relaxing place—it’s just so refreshing.”

MAI TAI

— 1 1/2 oz. Plantation Pineapple Rum

— 1/2 oz. Fruitlab Orange Liqueur

“Typically in a Mai Tai you use an orange curaçao, and this is what we use at Bluebeard. It has a very subtle flavor, but adds great color.”

— 3/4 oz. orgeat, an almond milk syrup

“I actually like to put this in my coffee too, it’s nice and sweet. I always love using orgeat in drinks because it gives a creamy, frothy look.”

— 3/4 oz. lime or lemon juice

— Splash of pineapple soda or ginger beer

Combine rum, orange liqueur, orgeat and juice in a cocktail shaker and shake over ice. Pro tip: Try double-straining your drink to get rid of all the floating ice chips and to make sure that the liquid is very smooth. After straining, add to a glass with ice and top off with the soda or ginger beer—the carbonation of the soda mixing with the orgeat makes the drink nice and frothy. Finish with a lime wheel. 

Jeptha Creed is an Indy Maven partner.

Stephanie Groves is an Indy-based freelance writer who loves any cocktail with elderflower in it.


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