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3 Ways to Add Sass to Summer Cocktails

Summer’s hot weather and long evenings practically beg for a fresh take on cocktails. So grab a pitcher, a frosted glass or a plastic tumbler and let’s mix up a batch of delicious.

Smoky Nectarine Punch

Summer’s hot weather and long evenings practically beg for a fresh take on cocktails. So grab a pitcher, a frosted glass or a plastic tumbler and let’s mix up a batch of delicious.

Use the Season’s Best

Take advantage of what’s in season. Watermelon, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, cucumbers, figs and berries can all be juiced, muddled or sliced to garnish cocktails.

Fresh herbs are abundant in summer, too. Try a basil julep, make rosemary- or thyme-infused simple syrup to add interest to boozy lemonade, or crush mint into tea blends and tequila drinks. Have you ever tried fresh cilantro in a cocktail? What about your next michelada?

Here are three versatile syrups and a fun garnish made with summer’s best ingredients.

Honeyed Peach Syrup
Crop of image WebRecipe_HoneyedPeachWheatBeer
Honeyed Blackberry Syrup

Honeyed Blackberry Syrup

Cherry Syrup

Cocktail Cherries

Other ideas:

  • Spice it up! Try fresh jalapenos muddled in your margarita, or make jalapeno simple syrup to add verve to just about anything.

  • Blend a few cucumbers with cold water and strain for a splashy addition to a Pimm’s Cup.

  • Fresh and grilled tomatoes make an awesome Bloody Mary base.

  • We love watermelon whizzed in the blender, strained, then shaken with bourbon and ice. Peach pairs nicely with whiskey, too.

Grilling Is Hot! How to Get Smoky Flavor

For instant intrigue, try grilled fruit in cocktails.

Keep it easy and grill ripe fruit in large pieces. Our recipe for Smoky Nectarine Punch has a great method for grilling the stone fruit, then muddling it with thyme syrup before mixing in sparkling wine.

For citrus, cut in half, dip the cut side in brown sugar, and grill over hot coals or medium-high gas until caramelized, less than 10 minutes We like to keep grilled lemons around all summer, for obvious reasons. Grilled lemons and rye! Grilled lemons and vodka! Grilled lemons and salmon! (Whoops, that’s for another post.)

Like tequila? Try a grilled-grapefruit Paloma. Gin? Go for a grilled-grapefruit Salty Dog.

For a smoky sangria, grill and cool mixed summer fruits before steeping in red wine and brandy.  We love a combination of grilled oranges, skewered and grilled table grapes, and grilled peaches. Here’s an easy Sangria recipe to riff on with your fired-up fruit.

If you’re looking for a shortcut to smoky flavor, try incorporating smoky-tasting liquor like mescal or scotch. 

Make it Fun for Everyone

Kids, teens, pregnant women, teetotalers, designated drivers – you’ll have plenty of folks over this summer who choose not to drink alcohol.

Pull together some delicious mocktails, punches, spritzers, teas, shrubs, coolers – whatever you call them, your guests will call them delicious. And boozy or no, you can always lighten all your drinks up with extra iced tea, sparkling water, and lots of fresh juices.

Blackberry Lavender Shrub

Peach-Ginger Water with Cilantro
Honeydew Green Tea
Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca

How are you tippling this season? Tell us in the comments.

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