Great news: summer cocktails are in season! Whether you’re entertaining in the comfort of your own home or escaping to your favorite beachside getaway, cocktail hour is a must. So instead of rummaging through the liquor cabinet and scrambling to put things together at the last minute, here are five easy tips to help you take your summer cocktail game to the next level!
Assemble your dream team
It’s important to have your favorite spirits on-hand at all times. This cuts down on last minute trips to the liquor store and saves you money when you buy in bulk. Pick at least one clear spirit (gin, vodka, white rum, tequila) and one dark spirit (whiskey, brandy, dark rum) and make those your “house” staples.
Press for success
When you want a refreshing, bright cocktail bursting with citrus, resist the temptation to use store-bought juices. Instead, pick up a citrus press to help you conquer those fresh lemons and limes. (Pro-tip: if you really want to make clear, beautiful drinks worthy of your Instagram feed, filter your citrus juice through a small strainer to keep the pulp out of your cocktail.)
Sweeten the Deal
Summer means fresh fruits and herbs are everywhere. You can capture flavors like rosemary, blackberry, mint, and just about anything else by making a fruit- or herb-infused syrup. Combine equal volumes of sugar and water in a saucepan on medium low heat, then add a handful of your favorite fruit or herbs and stir for 2-5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Strain and chill the syrup in the fridge overnight, and you’ll be ready to go!
Glass it Up
Vintage glassware is a great conversation piece, and it can be extremely affordable if you know where to look. Next time you see a yard sale, estate sale, or antique store, take a few moments to search for glassware that inspires you. Even if your collection doesn’t match, your guests will be delighted when you present their drink in an elegant stemmed coupe or a whimsical Collins glass.
Stick the Landing
Garnishes can be the star of the cocktail. So whether you’re trying to jazz up your citrus twist or create something a bit more showy, having the right hardware can help a lot. Pick up a basic set of cocktail picks for skewering olives and brandied cherries, and maybe some miniature clothespins for securing herbs and other goodies to the rim of the glass.
If you’ve got guests arriving in a few hours, think about knocking out your bartending ahead of time! Try this recipe for a bright, refreshing spin on a traditional Manhattan cocktail that makes one large batch. Chill in the refrigerator up to a day in advance!
Big Batch Perfect Summer Manhattan
- 1 bottle of rye or bourbon whiskey
- 6 oz dry vermouth
- 6 oz sweet vermouth
- ½ oz orange bitters
- 6-8 oz filtered water (for proper dilution)
- One large grapefruit (for garnishes)
Combine all liquid ingredients in a sealable pitcher, stir well, and store in the fridge to chill. Serve this perfect summer Manhattan in your favorite vintage glassware and garnish with a fresh grapefruit twist. Makes 12 servings.
(If all else fails, grab your friends and head out on a libations tour!)
Photos by Reema Desai Boldes