With warmer spring weather on its way, it’s now open season for backyard barbecues, lounging by the pool, or just sitting outside on your deck to watch the sunset.
Of course, the warmer weather calls for an updated bar menu, so here are 10 cocktails to get you started.
Your Summer Spirits
In general, for warmer weather and more refreshing drinks, you’ll want to stick to clear spirits. This doesn’t mean you can’t have brown spirits (dark rum, whiskey), but be aware of the downsides. Being out in the heat and sweating can already make you dehydrated, and drinking any alcohol without enough water can lead to hangovers. Darker spirits are more likely to provoke longer and more severe hangovers the next day.
Calorie-wise, there isn’t any significant difference between dark or clear liquors. The caloric content of any hard liquor is mainly a function of the liquor’s proof. Since 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, the higher the proof, the higher the calorie content. If you’re watching calories for your diet, you’re better served by paying attention to your mixers, which usually are filled with sugar and empty calories.
These are the tried-and-true drinks that we’ve all heard of. These are familiar to most people, require only a few ingredients, and are quick to make.
While they may not satisfy a curious mixologist, they can still provide a lot of refreshment for your lazy summer weekends.
Gin and Tonic
This drink can be made with almost any clear liquor if you don’t care for gin. Whichever liquor you choose, pick something that tastes good on its own. Since there isn’t much else going into this drink, a bottom-shelf liquor can make this drink suffer.
- 1 to 3 parts gin (depending upon taste)
- 3 parts tonic water
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 lime slice or wedge (for garnish)
- Ice cubes (for extra points, make them out of tonic water)
Fill a tall, narrow (preferably chilled) glass with ice cubes. Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice. Mix well. Garnish with the lime wedge, and serve.
The mojito is one of the most famous rum-based mixed drinks around the world, and despite its relatively long ingredient list, it’s quite easy to make.
- 2 oz. white rum
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. club soda
- 2 tsp sugar
- 10 to 12 mint leaves (plus 2 to 4 small sprigs for garnish)
- Ice cubes
Combine lime juice, sugar, and mint leaves in a tall 10-ounce glass (like a Collins glass) and muddle. Add half of the club soda, and stir for 10 seconds to partially dissolve sugar. Add ice cubes, rum, and remaining club soda. Stir again, then add the garnish and enjoy.
If you’re getting mint for mojitos, why not use it to enjoy one of the most popular bourbon whiskey cocktails and the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby?
- 2.5 oz. bourbon whiskey
- 1 or 2 tsp water (seltzer preferred)
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- 5 to 10 mint leaves
- Ice (crushed preferred)
Place the mint leaves in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass, top with sugar, and muddle. Once the leaves have begun to break down, add half the water and the ice (fill glass ¾ full), then the bourbon, then top with the remaining water. You can also garnish with any remaining mint leaves.
A classic cocktail for all, the restaurant versions can often be way too sweet. If you invest in a high-quality tequila, you can drastically lessen (or even eliminate) the need for any sort of sugar or sugary mixer.
If you don’t have a great tequila, use a half-ounce more lime juice and a half-ounce less triple sec. You may also add a ¼ to ½ ounce of simple syrup to each drink.
- 2 oz. Blanco tequila
- 2 oz. triple sec
- 1 oz. lime juice (fresh squeezed)
- 1 tbsp. coarse salt (optional, for the rim of the glass)
- 1 lime wheel (for garnish)
- Ice cubes
The directions for the drink itself couldn’t be simpler. Combine tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake (for 10 to 15 seconds), and then strain into a glass filled with ice cubes. Add garnish and serve.
For the salt-rimmed glass, rub the outer rim of the glass with lime juice (using a lime wedge makes it easy) and then dip the glass into the coarse salt.
The Cosmopolitan is a classic cocktail that has exploded in popularity in the past quarter-century. The Cosmo recipes that you’ll find in restaurants are often o