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21 Refreshing Summer Cocktails

Summer time sippin’ with these deleicious drinks

Summer is here at last, and that means that it is time to see family and friends once again. Even more importantly, it means it is time to enjoy delicious meals outdoors once again. 

Summer cocktails with pieces of fruit on wooden table

Of course, when it comes to cocktails, you have an endless range of choices. Summer is the time to take advantage of those delicious fruits in season.

Whether you enjoy fruity drinks or something else entirely, you need something to sip on as you gather to celebrate the summer. Here are 23 of the best summer cocktails we could find. 

Blackberry Mojito

Blackberry mojito cocktail with berries, lime and mint
Blackberry mojito cocktail with berries, lime and mint

A mojito is a classic summery cocktail, and there are endless ways to put a fruity spin on it. The cocktail had its earliest roots as a cure for dysentery. These days, it’s known as an unmissable summertime drink.

This blackberry version is a great riff on the classic Cuban highball, which combines white rum with sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint. 

If blackberry isn’t your style, you can try making your own delicious version with another summer fruit like raspberry, strawberry, or peach. It’s easy to riff on the original. Make sure to add some whole, fresh fruit to top it off! 


Paloma

Paloma summer cocktail with grapefruit, lime, sprig of rosemary
Fresh summer cocktail with grapefruit, lime, sprig of rosemary

Grapefruit juice is no longer a favorite at the breakfast table, but it’s still a staple behind the bar. A classic Paloma is just grapefruit juice and vodka. But if you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can try adding simple syrup, sugar, and a bit of lime juice to balance out the tartness. 

Another variation called the Vida Paloma swaps out the vodka for mezcal, adds some simple syrup, and tops it up with a smoky hot pepper garnish. You may also find versions that use grapefruit-flavored soda instead of straight grapefruit juice, which adds some sweetness and carbonation.


Aperol Spritz

raising a glasses of aperol spritz at the dinner table

If you’ve ever had this Italian liquor, you know that it’s light and refreshing — downright perfect for a hot summer’s day. Cocktails using Aperol were all the rage back in the early 2000s, but even then they were a throwback, hailing back to the 1950s. But there’s a reason this drink has endured for more than half a century! 

The spritz version gives it a fun twist, combining Aperol with club soda and sparkling wine or prosecco. This fun, refreshing drink also has a lower alcohol content than some cocktails, making it a good choice for slow sipping throughout the evening. 


Mai Tai

Hawaii mai tai drinks on waikiki beach
Hawaii mai tai drinks on waikiki beach

This colorful drink is a delicious blend of rum, lime juice, Curacao liqueur, and orgeat syrup. Since its introduction in the 1940s, it has become a staple of summer, beachside drinks, perfect for a pool party or other festive setting. 

A Mai Tai is a cocktail that is synonymous with summer, especially beach settings, sun, and tiki bars. 

Making this delicious cocktail only takes a few minutes, and each one is worth it. Make sure to include some crushed ice and the classic garnish of mint leaves and a wedge of lime.


Rum Sunset

Summer is the time for fruit and fruity drinks, and the Rum Sunset is one of many examples. Despite its colorful and elegant appearance, it is an incredibly simple cocktail to make. All you need is rum, orange juice, and grenadine. 

If the name sounds familiar, you might be thinking of a Tequila Sunrise, a similar cocktail with bright gradients of color from unmixed juice and grenadine. 

The Rum Sunset gets its name from its striking appearance, and of course, its delicious tropical taste. If you want, you can garnish it with a slice of lime for an extra pop of color and a splash of acid. 


Summer Crush Mimosas

You know what a mimosa is, but this cocktail puts a special spin on the classic excuse for drinking alcohol in the morning. The traditional mimosa combines orange juice with prosecco or champagne for a celebratory brunch drink.

A Summer Crush Mimosa swaps out the classic orange juice for mango juice or mango-infused seltzer water. 

Add some prosecco or champagne, sugar, grenadine, and some orange zest, and you have a summer drink that is a celebration of warm-weather fruits. No matter where you are drinking this cocktail, you will feel like you’re in Miami. 


Vodka Spritzer

You have probably tried a version of the vodka spritzer before, but this version is hard to beat. With bright cranberry juice, it’s a striking cocktail that looks beautiful at a party or outside at a barbecue. 

It’s also a great drink for anyone who doesn’t care for overly sugary cocktails. The vodka spritzer is slightly sweet but also tart and crisp. It has quite a few ingredients but is still easy to whip up in a flash. You’ll need vodka, simple syrup, carbonated water, and cranberry juice. If you want, you can add some cut-up fruit as a garnish. 


Mermaid Mule

If you have ever tried a Moscow Mule, you’ve probably fallen in love with the bubbly, refreshing taste of ginger beer and vodka. The Mermaid Mule is an oddly-named variation that is perfect for sipping poolside. 

The moment you look at it, you can’t help but think of lounging by the ocean or pool. Mermaid Mules use all the ingredients of a classic Moscow Mule, including vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. The key difference is the addition of blue Curacao, which — you guessed it — adds a bright, tropical hue to the drink. It’s striking, beautiful, and downright refreshing. 


Gin Basil Smash

If the thought of basil in a cocktail makes you pause, bear with us for a moment. This herb, usually used in savory cooking, adds a delicious and unique note to the cocktail that is bright and refreshing without being overly sweet. 

This cocktail is a variation of the Whiskey Smash, a drink that originated almost 150 years ago. But this version is relatively new, introduced by German bar owner Jörg Meyer. It combines gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and basil leaves to make a drink that is totally one-of-a-kind. 

Not a fan of saccharine fruity drinks? The Gin Basil Smash is the perfect cocktail for you to sip at a barbecue, pool party, or beachside picnic this summer.


Frozen Sangria Margarita

Can’t choose between a glass of sangria and a tangy margarita? This cocktail combines the two classic summer drinks and freezes them to make a deliciously icy version. 

With sweet sangria and tangy tequila and lime, this cocktail packs a punch. But they are so delicious that you might find yourself drinking more than one. They are ideal for a party, so whip up a whole pitcher to offer to your guests next time you are hosting. 


Alcoholic Dole Whip

If you’re a fan of the classic Dole Whip, you will love this grown-up version. In case you’re not familiar, Dole Whip is pineapple soft serve ice cream made famous by the Disneyland Tiki Bar. Many people grew up enjoying this frozen treat. The cocktail version takes the childhood classic and takes it up a notch. 

There is nothing more summery than tropical fruit and ice cream originally served at a tiki bar, except that same treat with coconut rum. This version also uses sweetened condensed milk to make a treat that is lusciously sweet and creamy.


Salty Dog

If you love citrus-based cocktails but have had your fill of margaritas, the Salty Dog cocktail should be next on your list. This delicious pink drink uses grapefruit juice as a base and features a classic salt rim that gives it its unique name. 

The drink is essentially the same as a Greyhound, the main difference being the rim garnish. To make a Salty Dog, combine grapefruit juice with gin, simple syrup (or maple syrup if that’s all you have on hand), and lime juice. 

It is incredibly refreshing without being overly sweet. Meanwhile the grapefruit, lime, and salt give it a nice zip and acidity that are perfect for a summer day. 


Mint Julep

The mint julep is a cocktail that has been around for almost 170 years. It reached its heyday in the 1920s — especially when referenced in books like The Great Gatsby — but has enjoyed lasting popularity ever since. These days, it is associated with two things: the Kentucky Derby and summertime. 

Mint juleps are all about two things: the aroma (mint and bourbon are heady, delicious scents together) and keeping it cold. They should be served in a chilled glass and a napkin so that the heat of your hands doesn’t ruin the effect.

Despite its finickiness, the mint julep’s components are fairly simple in and of themselves: muddled mint and sugar, ice, and bourbon. Though purists will insist on only the best Kentucky whiskey as the base for their julep, variations call for everything from peach liqueur to rum and tequila. 


Limoncello Collins

You have probably heard of a Tom Collins. This summer based, citrusy version is a delicious upgrade. It uses limoncello, a well-known lemon liqueur, in place of the classic lemon juice. This not only adds a unique flavor but also increases the alcohol content, so tread carefully with this cocktail! 

To make a Limoncello Collins, you will need gin, lemon juice, club soda, mint, and of course, limoncello. 

Few things say “summer” like citrus does, and this cocktail is no exception. Its bright colors and refreshing citrus taste are perfect for any summer gathering. 


Dark And Stormy Slushie

If you are not a big fan of sweet, fruity drinks but are looking for a great summer cocktail, you will love the Dark And Stormy Slushie. It is a riff on the classic Dark N’ Stormy, a cocktail that combines ginger beer with lime juice and rum for a drink that is tart and refreshing. 

Take a note that the Dark N’ Stormy uses ginger beer, not ginger ale. The two drinks are essentially the same, but ginger beer has a higher ginger content. The result is a drink that is much spicier and more ginger-forward. 

The Dark And Stormy Slushie is pretty self-explanatory: just add ice and blend. 


Painkiller

The name might make it sound intense, but this cocktail has enduring popularity. It has been around since the 1970s and has a color scheme to match the era. 

This cocktail relies on rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut. In other words, it is an explosion of sweet, tropical flavors. It is a must-have at any beach party or tiki bar. 

Bear in mind that this cocktail is heavy on the liquor. It has gained a reputation as a hangover cure — but we’ll stick to enjoying it for its own sake. 


Cuba Libre

There are few drinks more classically beloved than a rum and Coke. Add a serving of lime juice and you have a Cuba Libre. It’s that simple! 

This cocktail is the perfect choice for anyone who prefers a soft drink to a fruity cocktail. It is sweet without being sugar-forward and gently bubbly. Meanwhile, the addition of the lime juice gives it a special zip that the classic version doesn’t have. 

There is a reason that the rum and Coke has been one of the classic summertime drinks since even before the Andrews Sisters sang about it. 


Hurricane

Hurricane cocktails

This cocktail is the only hurricane you want to experience on the beach this summer — but you don’t want to miss it. It earned its name by being served in a traditional hurricane glass. But the components themselves are reminiscent of the tropics and summer itself. 

The Hurricane is super-sweet, made from rum, passion fruit juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup. You can garnish it with fresh or preserved fruit like pineapple, lemon wedges, orange wedges, and maraschino cherries. 


Lemon Gin Fizz

Gin cocktails are super refreshing for hot summer days, so it is no wonder that they have remained popular for literally hundreds of years. A fizz is a type of cocktail that combines acidic juice — usually from a type of citrus — with carbonated water. 

The Lemon Gin Fizz takes things in a new direction that is perfect for summer. This combination of lemon juice, gin, simple syrup, and soda water has a special secret ingredient to get it super frothy — an egg white! 


Third-Wave Swizzle

The Third-Wave Swizzle relies on a swizzle stick to get that perfect amount of frothiness. If you don’t have one on hand, a long spoon will do. 

The flavor combinations of this cocktail are like no other. There is no one-note fruitiness here. Instead, the cocktail uses honey, gin, lemon juice, ginger syrup, and coffee concentrate to achieve its unique and delicious taste. 

You might not think that a coffee-based drink is right for the summer, but the honey, lemon, and ginger make it irresistibly bright.


Sweet Tea Sangria

Sangria and sweet iced tea might just be the two most classic summer drinks you can find. This cocktail is exactly what it sounds like. As a combination of two of the most popular warm-weather drinks, it was bound to be a hit, and it is. 

It is easy to get in trouble with this sweet, slow-slipping cocktail. The combination of cold, sugary black tea and fruity sangria is irresistibly refreshing on a hot summer day. Once you try this simple drink, you will instantly know why it has already become a classic.

Conclusion

No matter what your plans are for the summer — or what kind of cocktail you prefer — you can’t go wrong with these delicious summer drinks. Stick with a classic or try sampling a new one. You might end up finding a new favorite. 

The Best Summer Cocktails

  1. Blackberry Mojito
  2. Paloma
  3. Aperol Spritz
  4. Mai Tai
  5. Rum Sunset
  6. Summer Crush Mimosas
  7. Vodka Spritzer
  8. Mermaid Mule
  9. Gin Basil Smash
  10. Frozen Sangria Margarita
  11. Alcoholic Dole Whip
  12. Salty Dog
  13. Mint Julep
  14. Limoncello Collins
  15. Dark And Stormy Slushie
  16. Painkiller
  17. Cuba Libre
  18. Hurricane
  19. Lemon Gin Fizz
  20. Third-Wave Swizzle
  21. Sweet Tea Sangria

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Written by Ryan F.

Ryan is a Philadelphia local who enjoys checking out Philly's restaurant scene every chance he can. He grew up in South Jersey and now lives in Philadelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood. Ryan also enjoys traveling and checking out local eateries in every city he visits.