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The 10 Best Summer Cocktails That Are Refreshing and Easy to Make | Wit & Delight

A white wine spritzer, rose spritzer, and red wine spritzer displayed on a tabletop
All images by Sonja & Alex Overhiser, A Couple Cooks

Originally published in July 2021

Summer is here, and just like with food, it’s the best season for cocktails (in my humble opinion)! Summer cocktails are endlessly more fun when themed around seasonal berries, stone fruit, or fresh herbs. The weather is ripe for a stream of refreshing bubbles or thick, icy frozen purees with just the right amount of sweetness. You don’t even need alcohol: Mocktails are king in summer too. These refreshing summer drinks are best enjoyed outdoors, whether in your backyard, on a restaurant patio, or poolside.

Here are my favorite classic cocktail recipes to sip this season.

You’ll see each base recipe listed first, plus a few creative variations to get your wheels turning. Enjoy!

Peach mojito

1. Mojito

The mojito is a traditional Cuban cocktail that works in any season, but it’s best in summer when fresh mint abounds. You’ll need a huge handful of mint leaves, plus white rum and sparkling water. Mix it up by muddling in berries or peaches for an extra burst of flavor.

Recipe: Classic Mojito
Variations: Try a Strawberry Mojito, Raspberry Mojito, Peach Mojito, or Virgin Mojito

Summer Cocktail Recipes: Aperol spritz

2. Aperol Spritz

The spritz is another ideal bubbly cocktail to beat the heat. The most popular is the Aperol spritz, but you can make it with loads of other liqueurs! The basic idea? A 3-2-1 ratio of sparkling wine (aka Prosecco), liqueur, and club soda. A hint of citrus makes this drink extra refreshing.

Recipe: Aperol Spritz
Variations: St Germain Spritz, Lillet Spritz, Amaro Spritz, or Limoncello Spritz

Summer Cocktail Recipes: Spritzer

3. Spritzer

The spritzer sounds like a spritz, but it’s a totally different concept! Mix wine and club soda, and you’ve got a spritzer! This concept has been around since the 1800s, and for good reason: It’s easy and ultra-refreshing. Use any wine you like.

Recipe: White Wine Spritzer
Variations: Rosé Spritzer

Ranch water cocktail

4. Highball

A highball is the definition of refreshing: alcohol plus loads of bubbles! There are all sorts of variations on the concept of mixing alcohol with sparkling water. The whiskey highball goes back to around the early 1900s. A trendy new variation you’ve probably heard of? Ranch water!

Recipe: Vodka Soda
Variations: Whiskey Highball, Tequila Soda, Ranch Water

Summer Cocktail Recipes: Raspberry lime rickey cocktail

5. Gin Rickey

The Rickey is similar to a highball but with gin and lime juice! The classic gin Rickey was invented around the 1880s. Since then it’s evolved into a popular variation as a mocktail, and it’s an endlessly customizable concept.

Recipe: Gin Rickey
Variations: Cherry Lime Rickey, Raspberry Lime Rickey, or Lime Rickey


6. Shandy

The shandy is to beer what the wine spritzer is to wine! Ever made a homemade shandy? It’s a British drink that dates back to the mid-1800s. Originally beer was mixed with ginger beer or ginger ale, but today’s shandy mixes with lemon-lime soda or sparkling lemonade. The summer shandy and grapefruit shandy (recipes linked below) are updated takes on the classic with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and grapefruit juice for a refreshing twist.

Recipe: Classic Shandy
Variations: Summer Shandy, Grapefruit Shandy

Gin Basil Smash cocktail

7. Whiskey Smash

The classic whiskey smash dates back to the 1880s as a cooling summer drink in the Victorian age! Since then, lots of variations have evolved. Try it with any liquor, and muddle in fresh berries for a twist.

Recipe: Whiskey Smash
Variations: Gin Basil Smash, Berry Vodka Smash, Blackberry Bourbon Smash

Summer Cocktail Recipes: Moscow mule

8. Moscow Mule

The Moscow mule is one of the most popular cocktails in the country, featuring the classic combination of lime and ginger beer. This one has spawned a myriad of variations using different liqueurs. The watermelon version is a perfect taste of summer!

Recipe: Classic Moscow Mule
Variations: Mexican Mule, Kentucky Mule, Gin Gin Mule, Watermelon Mule

Frozen daiquiri

9. Frozen Daiquiri

The frozen daiquiri is a little 1990s, but we’re here for it! The classic daiquiri is made with lime, rum, and simple syrup, but freeze that and you’ve got the resort and restaurant classic. It’s incredibly refreshing and easy to make as a mocktail too. All you need to do is blend the ingredients, add a garnish or two if desired, and enjoy!

Recipe: Strawberry Daiquiri
Variations: Lime Frozen Daiquiri, Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri

Summer Cocktail Recipes: Watermelon sangria

10. Sangria

Last up in this roundup of summer cocktails is one you can make in a big pitcher. Sangria! This Spanish wine punch has been cooling people off for centuries. The general ingredients include fruit, sugar, wine, brandy, triple sec, and sparkling water or soda water (optional). There are lots of fruit-forward variations that are perfect for the season.

Recipe: Red Sangria
Variations: White Sangria, Rose Sangria, Watermelon Sangria, Strawberry Sangria

For more refreshing summer cocktails…

Browse by liquor with vodka, rum, or gin.

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