The summer months are all about vibrant, zesty, zingy and light cocktails that complement the hot days and long evenings. A simple Gin & Tonic or glass of Pimm’s may hit the spot, but there are several classics that are easy to make, each with an interesting back story. And we all love a good story, right?
From making at home to impress your friends, enjoying on a lazy summer’s afternoon, sipping on the beach or by the pool on holiday, a refreshing and thirst-quenching cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to any occasion. Here we have six delicious options to explore and try.
This classic cocktail is said to have been created in the late 1800s on the island of Cuba in the Caribbean. It was named after a beach close to the town of Santiago de Cuba and used local rum as its base.
However, the daiquiri really came to prominence in the 1920s following the invention of the electric blender. A bartender named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert at La Floridita in Havana created a frozen version using the blender and the rest is history.
The cocktail has made La Floridita famous and drinking one there should be on your bucket list. Famous advocates include Ernest Hemingway, who frequented the bar so much that they have a bust of him in one corner.
How To Make: Blend a double measure of gold rum with cherry liqueur, lime juice, pink grapefruit juice, sugar syrup and crush ice. Pour into a coupe glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
This simple and refreshing cocktail evolved from the classic Scotch & Soda that became popular in late Victorian Britain. It is easy to make – simply pour your spirit of choice over ice in a tall glass, add sparkling or soda water and garnish with a slice or zest of lemon. Whisky is most used – a lighter blend or single grain works best. You can also jazz it up a little by adding a splash of ginger liqueur or a dash of bitters.
There are several equally tasty alternatives that you can try, though. Calvados, the French apple brandy, works superbly and gives a delightfully crisp and fruity experience. A decent gold rum also works well.
If you wish to go Japanese, then the mizuwari is a great option – use a light Japanese blended whisky and top with still water, rather than sparkling. Light, delicate, and super thirst-quenching.
How To Make: Pour your spirit of choice over ice in a tall glass, add sparkling or soda water and garnish with a slice or zest of lemon.
This deliciously minty cocktail has become a summer staple. Its history goes hand in hand with the formation of the famous Bacardi rum company in Cuba. In the early 1860s Facundo Bacardí Masó, the founder, used his rum to transform a local alcoholic drink named Draque into the mojito that we know today. This helped to establish his new rum in Cuban culture.
Several bars in Havana claim to have made the first mojito but urban legend suggests it was at the now-iconic Bodeguita del Medio. Like with the daiquiri, if you are in Havana, you must take the pilgrimage to the bar.
How To Make: Add mint leaves, a good slug of gold rum, lime juice and sugar syrup to a tall glass, then fill with crushed ice. Rub the mint in your hands first for extra mintiness. Top with soda water and garnish with a further sprig of mint.
Retro cocktails are making a serious comeback, and this is one of several to make an appearance on this list. This tangy and fruity cocktail was an interpretation of a classic gin sling, which was popular in the Victorian era.
The Singapore Sling was created by barman Ngiam Tong Boon in the early 20th century at The Long Bar in Raffle’s Hotel, Singapore. You’ll need a few ingredients to make one yourself, but it’s worth it.
How To Make: Put a good measure of London Dry gin into a cocktail shaker over ice with half the amount of cherry brandy liqueur. Then add a quarter measure of Benedictine and Cointreau orange liqueur, plus pineapple juice and freshly squeezed lime juice. Add a small amount of grenadine syrup and a dash of bitters.
Shake and strain into a glass and garnish with a cocktail cherry and slice of lemon.
The last decade has seen the rebirth of the Spritz. The vibrant and uplifting drink had fallen out of favour but has come back bigger, better and with several creative versions.
Two classics spring to mind: the Aperol Spritz and the Campari Spritz. The two old Italian brands have cornered the market and work superbly. Both add a gripping bitterness that is so refreshing on a warm summer’s day.
How To Make: Pour a measure of Aperol or Campari into a wine glass over ice and an equal measure of Prosecco. Then top up with a good splash of soda or sparkling water and garnish with a slice of orange (or pink grapefruit if you are feeling extravagant).
For something a little lighter, you can use white or rose wine as the base.
The continued growth of tequila and mezcal sales has resulted in a recent rise of Mexican-inspired cocktails. The Tequila Sunrise is a retro classic and one that has benefitted from this surge in popularity.
The original version was created in the early 1930s at the Agua Caliente bar in Tijuana, Mexico. It is zesty and fresh with a lovely sweetness that combines well with the earthy quality of a good tequila.
The early 1970s saw the birth of the modern Tequila Sunrise. This variation simplified the earlier version and was conceived by Bobby Lozoff at The Trident bar in Sausalito, California.
How To Make: Pour a dash each of grenadine and cassis into a glass over ice, then shake together tequila, orange curaçao and freshly squeezed orange and lime juice. Then pour in so it sits on the red layer to create the sunrise effect.
Garnish with a slice of lime and you will be in retro heaven.
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