Summer is in full swing, and that means barbecues, bikinis, and—of course—cool cocktails. The secret to the perfect warm-weather drink is to keep it light and infuse the summer classics with fresh, seasonal flavors. All it takes to shake up your own innovative beverage is some no-fail recipes and a few simple ingredients—say good-bye to those pre-packaged mixes! We hunted down eleven easy recipes so all that stands between you and a “vacation-in-a-glass” is a quick trip to the market!
An Avocado Margarita sounds wrong, but it tastes very right. Combining two favorite Mexican-cuisine staples, tequila and avocados, the cocktail has just a hint of avocado flavor, making it cold and creamy like a daiquiri—without the 6,000 calories. The subtle sweetness pairs well with salty chips or chopped veggies and salsa.
What better way to perk up a classic summer beverage than with some booze? Green Tea Sake Punch refreshes while adding a little, well, punch. With iced green tea and cold sake as the foundation, this drink is subtly sweet, thanks to a refreshing twist of citrus, mint, and cucumber. Serve it up alongside some takeout sushi or salted edamame, and you’ve got a restaurant-worthy pairing.
The Frog in a Blender is a summery twist on the classic vodka-cranberry cocktail. Cranberry juice, vodka, ice, and limes are blended just partially, so tasty bits of lime float around the glass. Then jazz it up with whatever seasonal fruit is in the fridge, line the rim with sugar, and—voilà!—you have the perfect midday pick-me-up to pair with a light salad.
Watermelon may be summer’s most perfect food—fresh, juicy, and naturally sweet. Watermelon Punch takes the fruit’s warm-weather goodness and multiplies it with vermouth and a scant tablespoon of sugar. Blending it all together with ice produces a smooth beverage that just screams for a backyard barbecue. Add seasonal fruit and mint for a pretty garnish.
Just saying Agua Fresca de Pepino livens up a party. The cool combination of cucumber, limes, and sugar is traditionally a nonalcoholic bebido, but adding a splash of vodka or silver tequila is a fresh alternative to the usual margarita. The low-calorie cooler is well served with spicy salsa and chips.
Tired of the same old minty drink? A fresh spin on Cuba’s classic cocktail, the Orange-Basil Mojito shakes things up by exchanging mint for basil and limes for oranges, while basil-infused simple syrup provides sweetness. Chunks of orange and a sugarcane garnish make this sipper sweet and light. It’s best served alongside spicy food, like curry or a spicy tuna roll.
Jonesing for a cool treat? The Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini tastes decadent yet retains the freshness you’d expect from a classic martini. A dessert-worthy combination of flavors, the shaken cocktail combines pineapple juice, whipped-cream vodka (heaven!), and grenadine. Topped with a maraschino cherry, this sweet drink is a star on its own but pairs well with contrasting flavors, liked smoked almonds.
This cocktail, infused with raspberry and chili, puts a little spice into the usual martini. A must-try for those who like a little heat, the Chili Raspberry Martini is a concoction of raspberry vodka, Cointreau, lime sour, and cranberry juice with a thin slice of serrano pepper. Now that’s cool with a kick.
The Pomerita gives the classic margarita a makeover with the inclusion of pomegranate juice and steps it up another notch by tossing in innovative ice cubes. Pomegranate seeds are frozen in lime juice, and as the cubes melt, the seeds are released into the cool cocktail. Serve up the pink drink with something light, like seafood salad or grilled chicken.
Hotter than your average wine-and-fruit combo, the Sangria Scorcher is a kicked-up version of the Spanish favorite—extra spice and extra alcohol. After muddling a red chili pepper, toss in some white wine, vodka, triple sec, and elderberry cordial, and then make it drinkable with cranberry juice, diced cucumber, and lemon-lime soda. A non-boring, low-maintenance alternative to the usual backyard beer bucket? Absolutely.