Countdown: The Top Ten Alcoholic Drinks of Summer

There's nothing better than an ice cold alcoholic beverage on a hot summer day. Here are the top ten cocktails and mixed drink recipes that will ease your pain and beat the summertime heat.

10) The Tom Collins
You can skip the overpriced (and overly sweetened) store bought Tom Collins mix. Instead, try making one the old-fashioned way. You'll love this thirst-annihilating combination of lemon juice, powdered sugar and gin.

Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 oz gin
Shake with ice, strain in a highball glass
Add several ice cubes, top off with carbonated water and stir
Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry

9) The Fuzzy Navel
It may not be the manliest drink around, but on a really hot summer day it's okay to bend the gender rules a bit and enjoy this easy-to-make thirst-quencher.

3 oz Peach Schnapps
3 oz orange juice
Combine and pour over ice in a highball glass.

8) The Tequila Sunrise
Here's another refreshing orange-juice based cocktail, but this concoction packs a more powerful punch with tequila as its alcohol base. And not only does this drink quench your thirst, it offers attractive visual effects too. Don't forget to "stir to complete your sunrise!"

1-2 shots tequila
4-6 ounces orange juice
1/2 shot grenadine

Pour tequila and orange juice over ice.
Gently pour in grenadine and let it sink to the bottom of the glass.
Stir to complete your sunrise.

7) The Mint Julep
No drink is more venerated than this signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. Best with shaved or crushed ice, never ice cubes.

5 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
About 4 ounces bourbon
Crushed or shaved ice
Mint sprig, for garnish

Place sugar, mint leaves and about one ounce of the bourbon in the bottom of chilled glass. Muddle or crush the mint to create a thick, green paste in glass. Add crushed or shaved ice. Place a short straw all the way to bottom of cup, into the green mint paste.

Pour the remaining 3 ounces of bourbon over the ice. Add more crushed ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

6) Hard Lemonade
Lemonade, in addition to being the perfect thirst quencher, is a great blank slate for a wide variety of alcoholic additives. Try adding 1-2 shots of rum, vodka, or even Southern Comfort to an eight-ounce glass of lemonade with ice. Stir and enjoy!

5) The Strawberry Daiquiri
Have you ever tried making a strawberry daiquiri with freshly picked strawberries? Pure heaven.

3 ounces light rum
1 ounce lime juice
2 tsp powdered sugar
2-3 ounces fresh strawberries

Place ingredients into a blender with 1 cup of ice, pulse until smooth.
Pour into a highball glass. Serves 2.

4) The Mojito
Cynics might argue that the mojito is getting a bit too popular these days, but there's no denying that this is simply a great drink. The mix of mint, rum and lime juice is truly refreshing. For a related drink that's not quite as well known, see the Caipirinha.

Several mint leaves
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz light rum
Club soda

Crush the mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass. Add the sugar, lime juice and rum, stir well. Top with ice and a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lime slice and a mint sprig.

3) The Margarita
My wife would say that margaritas are great drinks all year 'round, but I think they are especially delicious during the hot summer. Be sure to avoid those horrible fructose-laden "margarita mixes" and go for the real thing. And drink it on the rocks with extra salt.

3 parts tequila
1 part Triple Sec
2 parts lime juice

Rub rim of cocktail glass with lime rind, dip rim in salt. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into glass.

2) Sangria
There are as many sangria recipes out there as there are people who make it, but I'll share with you a solid, simple, and not-too-sweet red sangria recipe:

2 oranges sliced, plus the juice of a third orange
Any other chopped or sliced assorted fruits you have handy (recommend: limes, lemons, apples, peaches or pears)
1 bottle inexpensive red wine
1/8 to 1/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on taste
1/4 cup triple sec
Add everything to a large pitcher and stir.
Chill for at least a few hours, or preferably overnight.

Cook's Illustrated apparently did a series of sangria taste tests, using red wines of varying price and quality. They found that the cheaper the red wine, the better the sangria! Now that's my kind of drink. (On a separate note: does anybody know if Cook's Illustrated is hiring?)

And of course you don't have to stop at red sangria. Try white sangria (using white wine), or if you have some Blue Curacao, you can add it to white sangria for an exotic-looking blue sangria.

And the very best summertime mixed drink is.....

1) The Gin and Tonic
Just listening to the clinking ice and gentle fizz of a gin and tonic is a cool, relaxing experience, and when that gin starts to enter your bloodstream, it's pure anesthesia. Welcome to the most elegant drink of the summer.

1-3 ounces gin, depending on your preference
Lime wedge
Squeeze lime wedge into glass
Add ice cubes, fill with tonic water.

I'm sure there are plenty of other drinks that could be great for a hot summer day, but I really need to finish off this post and make myself a drink.

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Related Posts:
Countdown: Top Ten Low Alcohol Drinks
Countdown: The Top Ten Best No-Alcohol Drinks
The Gimlet
The Gin and Tonic

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!


Thomas Pluck said...

You've hit the nail on the head; nothing is better than a gin & tonic for cooling off and relaxing. The mojito may be getting trend fatigue, but it's still a fine, classic drink. I imagine like the martini it will cease to resemble the original as we get strawberry vodka mojitos in the future.
The only think I'd add is a nice hefeweizen beer to the list. Ramstein Blonde by High Point Brewing company is my top pick.

Daniel said...

Agreed TS, if it's the right kind of beer it can be a GREAT summer drink. I hear you on a good hefeweizen.

Thanks for your comment!


Anonymous said...

No wonder why your tennis game has faltered, you've been drinking too much.

Daniel said...

Hmmmm, we'll just have to see about that. :)

Anonymous said...

I was inspired to try the Tom Collins after reading this.

Works out well. Very tasty in ways I'd never realized before. :)

Anonymous said...

A good list indeed; I quite agree that the gin and tonic is the perfect summer drink. Also, the news about cheap red wine and sangria is very encouraging; I'll have to throw together a pitcher sometime in the next little bit.

Alfonse said...

very good. I enjoyed this post. I suggest visiting my article on The 10 Best Drinks You'll Ever Have.

Best Alcoholic Drinks

Aidan said...

Great list, but you forgot one of the greatest summer drinks ever:

The Dark & Stormy

2-3 oz. Dark Rum
Muddled Mint
Freshly Squeezed Lime
Ginger Beer

Muddle mint in the bottom of glass, add ice, pour in rum & ginger beer (not ale), squeeze lime. Consume!

List is great, though, and I really couldn't agree more!

chacha1 said...

Just to add ... real grenadine, please. Bevmo carries it. Grocery stores only stock the fake stuff, HFCS with red food coloring, yack.

And for margaritas, may I recommend agave nectar? It harmonizes beautifully to sweeten the drink just a little.

Sangria is da bomb and if you want to make it sweeter, use Lambrusco.