We’ve got the best summer cocktails with vodka, gin, tequila, rum, or whatever your favorite booze is. And if you don’t like the taste of alcohol and prefer a virgin substitute, many of these classic summer cocktails can be un-boozed, no problemo.
Whether you’re hosting just a cocktail party, or you’re serving up some elegant tapas or having a full-on dinner party to celebrate the summer, these classic cocktails are a hit. While some surprise cocktails are always fun to add to the list, you’ll want to have some traditional drinks in-house to satisfy everyone.
Don’t forget to mix these up in fancy cocktail glasses and deck them out with salted or sugared rims, citrus wedges, and maraschino cherries!
Long Island Iced Tea
This one’s a trend that will never end. Long Island iced tea is a bonafide boozy go-to for the ones who can handle their liquor. Indeed, it’s one of the best summer cocktails with vodka. The problem is that it’s usually the ones who don’t drink often that choose a Long Island iced Tea for its sweet flavor and availability. While many other cocktails have virgin alternatives, with this one, that’s impossible. You’d end up with a glass full of ice and a little cola.
½ oz vodka
½ oz gin
½ oz light rum
¼ oz tequila
½ oz triple sec
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
6 oz cola
Lime slice for garnish
Not far off the Long Island Iced Tea, Californication combines gin, run, vodka, and tequila with orange and lemon juices. It’s tart, punchy, and sweet with that added splash of orange liqueur. It basically mixes a bit of everything, hence the “fornication,” courtesy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers! It’s not far off the tequila sunrise cocktail + vodka + gin + white rum!
½ oz of vodka, gin, white rum and tequila (combined)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz orange liqueur
3 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
Orange slice for garnish
Sip slowly and drift away to the southern seas with a pina colada in hand. Coconut and pineapple pair in this creamy tropical favorite. Thankfully, that cream comes from coconuts rather than milk, so it shouldn’t turn any stomachs, depending on how much of it you drink! If you want to cut down on the sweetness factor, choose pure coconut milk over a commercial pina colada mix. If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit of brown sugar. Smash out the pineapple with a mortar and pestle before adding it to the drink. Save a generous chunk for the garnish.
2 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
1 maraschino cherry
6 oz pina colada mix (or coconut milk)
2 oz pineapple juice
1 pineapple, quartered & sliced
Simple, classy, refreshing, and easy to make in your own homemade bar. Just a few simple ingredients and a salted rim removes state-side from your vocabulary altogether! Drink this one at your summer party beneath fancy patio lights and in the company of good friends, or pair it with tacos for a full-on Tex-Mex night with the family. Don’t forget the sombrero and all versions of Despacito!
1 6 oz can frozen lime juice
6 oz tequila
1 oz Cointreau orange liqueur
2 oz triple sec
Good quality salt to coat the rim
Behold the national drink of Brazil, pronounced kai-pr-EE-nyuh. Sweet and tart, without apology. It’s like Brazil’s margarita. Simple, discreet, totally satisfying, and easy to make in your own home bar. And it’s medicinal––it was invented to cure the Spanish flu, which begs the question: is there a COVID cocktail? Note the ingredient cachaca––this is not simply rum. It’s a spirit made from sugar cane. However, you can substitute with white rum or vodka, though rum is definitely the best choice.
2 oz Cachaca (Rum)
1 tsp sugar
Similar to the Singapore Sling, this Polynesian-style cocktail calls in every type of rum and drives it right home into your fancy cocktail glass. It hosts one obscure ingredient: almond syrup, which gives it a slightly nutty flavor. If you’re not up for this addition to your bar, it tastes just fine without it. But the lime juice and orange curacao liqueur is essential! This drink is not complete without a generous orange wedge perched on the rim of the glass.
1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
½ oz Orange Curacao liqueur
½ oz orgeat syrup (almond syrup)
½ oz lime juice
1 oz dark rum
You may have discovered that most bartenders tend to over-sweeten the mojito. It’s a delicate balance and ratios can be adjusted to suit your taste. Personally, we prefer it a little more minty, lime-y, and rum-y, and less sugary. You definitely want a good quality white rum for this one, especially if you’re going to cut the sugar back. We also recommend pounding a few mint leaves with an unpolished granite mortar and pestle before adding them to the drink to release some of that beautiful flavor and aroma.
10 fresh mint leaves
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tbsp white sugar, or to taste
1 cup ice
1 ½ oz white rum
½ cup club soda
A Little Liquor Goes A Long Way...
Keeping your home bar stocked with the essentials––vodka, rum, gin, and tequila––gives you the makings for many classic summer cocktails. These 7 cocktails offer a pretty good list of options for hosting a summer party. Most people know and love them, and there’s certainly something for everyone.
Don’t forget to be a generous bartender and serve up a side of nibbles with each drink. We suggest salty potato chips, popcorn, good ole’ fashioned peanuts, or pretzel sticks.
If you need a little guidance on managing your own home bar, we’ve got some great bartending tips here.
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From our kitchen to yours, enjoy these classic summer cocktails out under the stars with good friends.