We may be almost two weeks into the high-summer month of August but it was during July that we began to get experimental with refreshing drinks at home. Some of the following selections reflect the creativity of our editorial staff, while others represent a change of pace or the snapping of a sound belief. With thousands of cocktail recipes out there (from various levels of reputability)—not to mention plentiful light beer and summery wine options—we encourage you to step out of the ordinary or habitual and try one of these or experiment with crafting your own.
A healthier concoction
“To the extent that a healthful summer cocktail isn’t a contradiction in terms, we at least enjoy the thought exercise of crafting one,” says Executive Creative Director Josh Rubin, who crafted this unnamed delight at home. “A little vitamin C from grapefruit juice, probiotics from kombucha and lower-glycemic-than-other-spirits mezcal make our version of a Paloma great for the mind and the body. Casamigos’ mezcal is perfect for this drink as the smoke pulls through the other flavors without overpowering them. And using kombucha instead of soda softens the effervescence, though soda can be added as a topper if you prefer bigger bubbles.”
2 oz Casamigos mezcal
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz grapefruit kombucha
2 dashes of Yuzu bitters
1 oz soda (optional)
Combine the ingredients over ice cubes in a tall glass and stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge
A passionate variation on a margarita
Director of Editorial Katie Olsen says that “As a non-expert, I think a classic margarita is two ounces tequila, one ounce triple sec and one ounce lime juice. While I love a margarita, that 2:1:1 ratio isn’t for me and triple sec certainly isn’t either. Nor is Cointreau—which people have suggested in place of triple sec—or even a salted rim. When at my local liquor store recently (shout out Duke’s in Greenpoint), I was recommended to try Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur instead of triple sec. This stuff is super-tangy and acidic, but still sweet. Its consistency is far from syrupy; more like juice than liqueur. So for my tart and tangy 2020 Is The Worst, Drink This Margarita margarita (which somebody else has probably already invented much more professionally) follow along below.”
2 oz your favorite tequila reposado or blanco
1 oz Chinola
1.5 to 2 oz fresh lime juice
Combine ingredients, strain into glass over plenty of ice, drink while attempting to list three things from the day that weren’t terrible.
A low ABV option
“In the summer months, whether inside or out, sipping an entire weekend day away might be fun, but rarely worth it,” explains Assistant Editor Evan Malachosky. “To make the habit sustainable, perhaps even acceptable, you should opt for lower ABV drinks—and ones that are just as good as the potent stuff. My ideal, low ABV summer cocktail is a mix of a farmhouse or saison style beer—Allagash White or The Drowned Lands’ Foeder Saison—and citrus juice, aka a shandy. The proportions are really up to you as a shandy merely implies the mixture of beer and some sort of juice (typically lemon). But, whether you combine a zesty, peppery beer with strawberry basil lemonade or add cherry limeade to a brew with farmy, straw-like notes, it’s still a shandy. I make a blood orange and basil punch and mix it into an Allagash White. My ideal ratio remains 75% beer and 25% juice, but 50-50 over ice pleases too.
A change of direction
“Despite almost a decade of tasting—reviewing, really—cocktails at venues around the world, I’ve never been talented at crafting them, let alone inventing them,” says editor David Graver. “I can throw together a decent spritz or Negroni, struggle through the assembly of a passable Manhattan or Old Fashioned or tinker with the Espresso Martini. That’s about it. Thus, all of my time at home has caused me to venture into two territories I’d traditionally avoided. And to be honest I’m better for it. First, I’ve fallen for canned cocktails. Years ago I would have turned my nose up at these but through repeat explorations I found two that I cherish: the Long Drink and Social Hour. The former we’ve written about, it’s based on a Finnish classic and it’s fun. The latter is brand new and from NYC.
I’ve also—get ready for it—been adding ice to my whiskey. That’s basically a cocktail for me. I got my hands on a bottle of Basil Hayden’s 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye. It’s normally something I’d save for the colder months but I couldn’t wait. Turns out it is stunning but I added a few cubes of ice to help dress it for the weather. Like many whiskey drinkers, it’s hard for me to do something like this but water and ice really does open up a flavor profile. I’d never do what I’m about to tell you, but while at a distillery in Scotland a master distiller of one of the Glens, I think—I forget which—said to me that if someone wanted to add Doctor Pepper to one of his single malts, he’d probably feel internal pain about it but if that’s how they enjoyed whisky, then they have every right to do so. Remembering that helps me when I plunk in the cubes.
Hero image courtesy of Fine and Rare