Eat, drink and be merry. It’s a relatively simple concept, but merriment can be hard to achieve when your beverage threatens to put you to bed by late afternoon.
So, we’ve asked some of our favorite bartenders and bloggers to give us their most delicious summer cocktail recipes — a.k.a. mixed drinks that won’t leave you slumped over on a pool lounger with a glass in your hand. (Because thanks to social media, that’s just messy for everyone involved). Saturday night: We’re ready for you!
Self-taught Cincinnati mixologist Molly Wellmann (author of the book Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist’s Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning, Noon & Night) brings back the traditional cobblers of the 1800s with this sherry-infused drink she calls “a fantastic way to stay cool on a warm day without getting too snookered,” adding that “it usually only has about 17 percent alcohol by volume.”
Feel free to use a sherry that’s dry or that’s bold and jammy, depending on how you want the drink to taste.
The Sherry Cobbler
¼ oz. orange juice
1 sugar cube
2 oz. sherry
Soda, to top
Fresh fruit and mint sprig, to garnish
In a tumbler, dissolve sugar in orange juice, using a muddler to combine. Add sherry and stir, then add ice. Top with soda. Garnish with raspberries, blueberries, orange edge, and a sprig of mint and a straw.
This summer cocktails, from food blogger Jessica DaSilva of Portuguese Girl Cooks, is the perfect place to unload a surplus of summer blueberries. “We like to drink something light and fruity in the summertime by the pool and this is perfect,” she tells PEOPLE. “Best of all it’s a great base for a virgin or not so virgin cocktail.”
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a large crowd. For the strong at heart: soak the reserved blueberries in the liquor — it makes for a nice surprise while drinking!
Makes 6-10 servings
1 pint blueberries, divided
1¼ cups sugar
1¼ cups water
8-10 large limes, juiced (plus additional for garnish)
Vodka or tequila (optional), about 1-2 oz. per serving (substitute with sparkling water or club soda for non-alcoholic drink)
1. Reserve about ½ cup blueberries, and place the remaining blueberries in a medium saucepan. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the blueberries.
2. Add in the sugar and water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer until the mixture becomes a deep purple color, 5-10 minutes. Strain mixture into a container with a lid and refrigerate until cold.
3. Before serving, juice the limes and, in a pitcher, mix with the blueberry simple syrup. Add liquor (or sparkling water or club soda), reserved blueberries and sliced limes. Mix well and serve over ice.
While doing research for her new book, Maureen Petrosky — a lifestyle expert and author of The Cocktail Club, A Year of Recipes and Tips for Spirited Tasting Parties — came across a group of drinks known as suppressors. “I loved that they were lower in alcohol, making them perfect for a lunchtime tipple that didn’t require a nap immediately following,” she says. “However, some of them called for obscure ingredients and some called for lots of ingredients. So I set out to create my own.”
Petrosky’s version has three simple ingredients: one bitter, one sweet and one spritzy. Sounds like the makings of a delightful daytime drink!
The M Suppressor
2 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Splash DRY rhubarb soda*
3 thin cucumber slices, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the Campari and vermouth. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and top with chilled Dry Rhubarb soda. Garnish with 3 thin slices of cucumber.
*DRY is a brand of soda that has less sugar, making it perfect for cocktails that won’t make you crash. If you can’t find it, substitute club soda and you’ll be sipping what’s known as an Americano, another delicious low-alcohol drink.
“Aperol is a pleasantly bitter Italian liqueur that clocks in with a relatively slim alcohol content, making for a great low-proof cocktail to enjoy outdoors on a warm afternoon,” say Josh Williams, who teamed with Eric Prum to write Shake: A New Perspective On Cocktails. In this recipe, fresh strawberries and tart rhubarb put a sassy spin on the classic Italian Aperol Spritz.
Strawberry Rhubarb Spritz
6 strawberries, divided
2 tbsps sliced rhubarb
¾ oz. lemon juice
2 shots Aperol
Prosecco, to top
2 stalks of rhubarb (for garnish)
Add 4 strawberries, sliced rhubarb and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the shaker until crushed. Add the Aperol and ice to above the level of the liquid and shake for 10 seconds. Strain the mixture into a tall glass filled with ice and fill with prosecco. Garnish with the rhubarb stalks and remaining 2 strawberries.
A mixologist who specializes in craft cocktails on blog Death to Sour Mix, Raul Zelaya’s creation pays homage to a vodka martini, without the kick but with added flavor and depth. “It came about when I realized that martinis, as much as I do enjoy them, are drinks I have to go easy on or it’ll be a short night for sure,” he says. “Soju is very low in ABV [alcohol by volume]. It makes for a tasty substitute if you want to stand a fighting chance at still being social or — gasp!— have actual work to do.”
Lost in Translation
Makes 1 drink
1 oz. soju
¾ oz. vodka
½ oz. apricot eau de vie
¼ oz. orange liqueur (recommended: Triple Sec)
1 dash simple syrup
Orange twist, for garnish
Mix first 5 ingredients into a chilled glass full of ice and stir. Strain into a smaller martini glass and garnish with an orange twist.
Emily Arden Wells, the founding writer behind cocktail, food, and art website Gastronomista, calls her mixture of lavender and Campari “a refreshing combination that is bittersweet yet aromatic, and a wonderful apéritif to enjoy with friends before dinner.” And we’re totally on board — especially considering there’s a smart way to tweak it if you are starting to feel tipsy: “Say you’ve had a few but want to keep enjoying the party — just cut the proportions of Campari and rosé in half and add double the sparkling water.”
Campari Lavender Spritz
1 oz. Campari
2 oz. dry rosé (recommended: Apothic Rosé)
¼ oz. lavender tincture (recipe below, or substitute with 5-6 drops of lavender bitter)
2 oz. sparkling water
Mix all ingredients in a highball glass over ice and stir before serving.
½ cup vodka
½ tbsp. dried lavender
Add both ingredients to a non-reactive container, such as a glass bottle, and leave to infuse for 5-7 days, depending on taste preference. Strain out lavender using a cheesecloth and store in glass bottle.