The heat of summer is oppressive, isn’t it? That means it’s time to up your cocktail game with some thirst-quenching summer tipples! Use fresh local ingredients to create perfectly summer-y and refreshing iced cold cocktails, and you’ll break free of the heat in no time! Here are three delicious summer cocktail recipes to whip up. Cheers!
3 Easy Summer Cocktail Recipes
Watermelon Basil Smash
Nothing says summer like fresh, sliced watermelon, so it only makes sense to use this delicious seasonal fruit in cocktails too! It’s fairly easy to find fresh watermelon juice at some grocery stores but go the extra mile and grab a locally grown watermelon at a Memphis farmers market. Use Mississippi’s own Cathead Honeysuckle vodka for an extra layer of flavor.
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon of sugar (or more to taste)
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups cubed watermelon
- ½ cup vodka
- club soda
- Put the basil leaves, lemon juice and sugar in a pitcher and muddle – that is, use a wooden spoon or muddler to lightly crush the ingredients together.
- Puree the watermelon in a blender, then strain through a fine sieve into the pitcher.
- Stir in the vodka, then pour over ice in four glasses.
- Top with club soda and stir to mix.
Blackberry Gin Joint
Fresh berries, fresh herbs and bracing cucumber make a delightfully refreshing summer cocktail. I like to use Hendrick’s gin, with its cucumber undertones and fresh berries, mint and cucumber from the farmers market.
- 12 blackberries
- 12 mint leaves, plus more to garnish glasses
- 2 thin cucumber slices, plus more to garnish glasses
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ cup gin
- ½ cup sparkling water
- Place the blackberries, mint, cucumber, sugar and lime juice together in a cocktail shaker or a pint Mason jar.
- Muddle. That is, use a wooden spoon or muddler to lightly crush the ingredients together.
- Stir in the gin and pour the mixture in two tall glasses full of crushed ice.
- Top with sparkling water, give it a good stir and garnish with cucumber slices and mint leaves.
Sweet Tea Julep
Memphians’ primary tool for keeping our cool is endless pitchers of cold sweet tea and, after 5 p.m., icy mint juleps served in chilled silver cups — cool to the touch with a bracing drip of cold condensation. Tea is refreshing, bourbon is revivifying. Combine the two in a minty punch and you’ll have a whole new outlook on life. Try it in a julep cup but a plastic cup is just fine too.
- 7 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves (plus more for garnish)
- 3 family-sized black tea bags
- 1 ½ cups bourbon
- Stir together 4 cups of water and the sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and add the mint leaves and tea bags.
- Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then remove the tea bags.
- Leave the mint leaves in while the mixture cools to room temperature.
- Strain the tea into a pitcher. Stir in 3 cups of water and the bourbon.
- Chill, then serve over lots of ice, garnished with mint sprigs.
Bonus Bite! Lemon Rosemary Cocktail Wafers
Delicately brushing that line between sweet and savory, these little bites are lovely beside a refreshing summer cocktail. I’ve even served them on a cheese board with some soft goat cheese. Enjoy!
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat until well blended.
- Make sure your rosemary is very finely chopped – use an electric spice grinder if you have one. If not, chop as much as possible with a heavy knife.
- Add the rosemary and lemon zest to the bowl and beat until blended. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined and smooth.
- Scoop half the dough onto a long piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log.
- Roll up the dough and wrap tightly into a small, thin log. I like to make these as small bites, so I roll the log about 1-inch in diameter.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the logs for at least an hour but these will keep in the fridge for several days.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice wafers, about ⅛ of an inch thick, from the logs.
- Lay them on the baking sheet about ½ an inch apart and bake for 5 minutes, just until the centers are firm and the edges are slightly brown.
- Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
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