Whether you’ve escaped to the destination of your dreams, or just want to sip something that’ll make you feel like you have, we’ve got the ultimate kick-back cocktail rundown for you. From low-brow classics (updated for your grown-up tastes) to an exclusive NoMad creation, here are eight of the finest ways to raise a glass for summer and all the splendid sips it provides.
Developed exclusively for the Style Compass by Chris Lowder (of high-profile NoMad fame, now Head Bartender at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Korea, the Top-Sider Fix is our favorite on-deck tipple. Smokey peated Scotch and hypnotically summery strawberries combine for a flavor profile that simultaneously evokes both a fine, hand-rolled cigar and the popsicles of a dreamy childhood summer. Anchors aweigh!
- 1.5 oz. Port Charlotte Scotch whiskey
- .75 oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
- .8 oz. fresh lemon juice
- .25 oz. cane syrup (make this as you would simple syrup, for a fuller, more natural flavor: 2 parts cane sugar to 1 part water)
- 2 medium-sized strawberries
- Place one strawberry in your cocktail tin. Add cane syrup, lemon juice, Port Charlotte, and Cocchi Americano Rosa, and muddle. Set aside.
- Prepare your crushed ice by placing ice cubes into a clean dish towel, folding it closed, and beating the ice cubes with your muddler or other blunt, heavy object. Get that stress out! Then pack the crushed ice into a double rocks glass.
- Add a few whole ice cubes to your cocktail tin and shake for about four seconds to aerate and immulsify the drink.
- Strain over the crushed ice, and add a little more ice to the top to form a dome. Stick in a few cocktail straws and garnish with the second strawberry.
The national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha is fast replacing the mojito as summer’s go-to tropical refresher. Its base, cachaça, is made from fermented and distilled sugar cane, and has been a beloved local intoxicant for over 400 years.
- Half a lime
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ounces cachaça
- Slice the lime into 1/2-inch rounds, cube them, and muddle them with the sugar in an Old-Fashioned glass.
- Add a couple of ice cubes, pour in the cachaça, stir, and serve.
- For an updated twist that capitalizes on the sweet/tart tropical flavors, mix in a few rounds of peeled ripe kiwi and muddle very lightly to release the juices.
If you’re looking for a narcotically tropical experience, nothing transports like a tiki drink, the Zombie being the the mother of them all. You’ll need a well-stocked rum bar for this one (and a strong constitution), but the revelry that’s sure to follow a round of these will be well worth it.
- 0.5 oz white rum
- 1.5 oz golden rum
- 1 oz dark rum
- 0.5 oz 151-proof rum
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tbsp papaya juice
- 1 tbsp superfine sugar
- Mint for garnish
- Stir together all the ingredients except the 151 and pour into a Collins glass (or other large glass) three-fourths full of cracked ice.
- Float the 151 as a lid by pouring it into a spoon and gently dipping it under the surface of the drink.
- Feelling like a showman? Light this puppy up! Carefully take a match to the top of the drink, and the top layer of rum will burn off in a delightful display (possibly sparing you 10% of a hangover in the process).
- Garnish with mint, either straight or dipped in lime juice and then superfine sugar, and/or fruit. Stay true to the genre’s showy tradition and impale the fruit on a toothpick for extra decorative flair
Descanso Beach Smash
If you’re put off by the incessantly sweet profile of so many a beach bar bev, your bitter-loving palate will fall for L.A. mixologist John Coltharp’s deliciously dignified cooler.
- 0.25 oz. simple syrup
- 0.75 oz. Aperol
- 5 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 4 lemon wedges
- 3 small orange wedges
- Muddle the lemon wedges and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker
- Add the whiskey, Aperol, simple syrup, and ice and shake well
- Pour through a fine strainer into a double rocks or stemless wine glass filled with ice
- Garnish with the orange wedges, skewered on a pick, and mint sprig
No summer drink list is complete without this perfectly delicious number. Touching on all the notes of a perfect island sipper, the first known recipe for this Cuban national drink appeared as a Mojo de Ron in a 1929 edition of the “Libro de Cocktail” (The Cocktail Book).
- 8 mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
- 2 oz. Cuban white rum
- 0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 oz. simple syrup
- 0.5 oz. chilled club soda
- Muddle the mint leaves in a cocktail shaker
- Add ice, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup and shake well
- Strain into an ice-filled collins glass, stir in the club soda, and garnish with the mint sprig
Spiked Agua Fresca
Agua fresca is a classic Mexican cooler of watermelon, lime juice, and sugar—by itself, a superlative warm weather drink. Post-noon (come on, it’s vacation!), tequila makes it positively sublime. Plus, batching it is a breeze. Below, the basic recipe, followed by a few variations to suit your (or your guests’) fancy.
- 1 chilled seedless watermelon, cubed and rind discarded (about 20 cups)
- 1 cup tequila blanco
- 0.5 cup simple syrup
- 0.5 cup simple water
- 6 limes, sliced into thin rounds
- 3 mint sprigs, plus extra leaves for garnish
- In a food processor or blender, puree the watermelon in batches until smooth. Strain the puree into a large bowl or pitcher
- Stir in the simple syrup, tequila, lime slices, mint sprigs and water
- To serve, pour the watermelon agua fresca into ice-filled glasses, and garnish with mint leaves
VARIATION 1: Add a splash of Aperol to each individual drink for a bitter, citrusy flair that tames the drink’s inherent sweetness.
VARIATION 2: To add a fresh and smoky kick, infuse your tequila with jalapeño. Simply quarter 3 medium-sized jalapeños (leaving the seeds attached), and combine with 100% pure agave tequila in a quart-sized, air-tight jar. Store in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 3 days and up to a week, depending on your heat preference.
An elegant classic that’s also hella refreshing, this refreshed Sidecar recipe comes from Eben Freeman of NYC’s Tailor Restaurant.
- 1.5 oz. Cognac
- 1 oz. Cointreau, Triple Sec, or other orange liqueur
- 0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
- 1 lemon wedge
- Spread sugar on small plate. Rub lemon wedge halfway around rim of chilled martini or coupe glass. Dip moistened side of glass in sugar to lightly coat. Set aside
- Combine Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 30 seconds
- Strain into prepared glass and serve
Carton Brewing Rub
No, it’s not a cocktail, but yes, you need to know about it. If you’ve ever wondered what the perfect beer is to nurse while you’re working the ‘cue, the ever-inventive minds at Carton Brewing have answered the call. This “Dry-Rubbed Smoked Porter” is literally infused with barbecue spices—cocoa powder, brown sugar, black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, and others—and is the perfect brew to tide you over while you’re slow-smoking that long-anticipated rack of perfect summer ribs.