Even the most beautiful summer evenings can be made better with a well-mixed cocktail or two. Thanks in part to the popularity of the hit series Mad Men, retro cocktails have been wildly popular over the past several years. The Moscow Mule and Old Fashioned are two summer cocktails that have made colossal comebacks in various forms. While these favorites will be ordered time and time again at bars across the country between now and Labor Day, there are dozens of other contenders for 2016’s best summer cocktails.
Rainier cherries, lemon juice, celery bitters, and simple syrup give this cocktail its cool summer-y flavor. Whiskey gives the drink its punch. If you can, use Stranahan’s small-batch Colorado Whiskey. It is, after all, the cocktail’s namesake. If you can’t get your hands on Stranahan’s, use another barrel-aged whiskey made from a malt barley base grain. Make your own Colorado Cooler using this Food & Wine recipe as a guide, or order one at your neighborhood bar. If you live in AMLI RidgeGate’s Lone Tree apartments, visit Hilltop Tap House and give Kris’s Colorado Cooler a shot.
Honeyed cherry daiquiri
Since cherries are a favorite summer fruit for many, we’re kicking this list off with two cherry cocktail recipes. All that this Country Living summer cocktail recipe calls for is cherries, lime juice, light run, a tablespoon of honey, and a dash of bitters. While maraschino cherries find their way into loads of cocktails, these two feature fresh cherries, which are incorporated into far too few adult beverages.
A northern twist on this classic Mad Men-era cocktail can give you a naturally sweet start to any summer evening. Simply add one tablespoon of pure maple syrup to your standard Manhattan recipe, and taste the sweet difference.
If rye feels a bit stiff for summer, substitute Caribbean sugarcane rum and use orange bitters to lighten it up. Follow this fun Esquire recipe.
Jalapeño-spiked bourbon julep
Mint juleps were all the rage last summer. So far, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby is enjoying another good run in 2016. This summer, deviate from the standard combination of ingredients (bourbon, simple syrup, mint, soda water, and ice) by adding a touch of fiery pepper. It may seem counterintuitive to drink something spicy on a hot summer day, but capsaicin-infused beverages actually cool you down. Make your own jalapeño simple syrup using this Punch Magazine recipe. And don’t forget to use crushed ice for this summer cocktail—it’s essential.
No one can say for sure where, when and how the first sidecar was made. The two prevailing accounts of the cocktail’s origins are equally fascinating, and well worth reading about. What we do know for sure is that the sidecar makes a fine summer cocktail. One of the simplest recipes calls for just cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. Ina Garten likes to sweeten hers with sugar and a garnish of lemon peel or maraschino cherry. Serve your summer sidecars in martini glasses, if you have them. For another nice touch, rim the glasses with lemon juice and sugar.
This list is a great place to start, but don’t let it limit your adventures in bartending over the next couple months. So many cocktails go down especially well in the summertime. Mix these and other refreshing cocktails in your apartment kitchen, and enjoy them on your balcony or by the pool.
What cocktail are you enjoying the most this summer? Share in the comments!
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