Whether you want to recreate a holiday vibe at home or simply indulge your taste buds, these refreshing classic summer cocktails are simple to mix up yourself – you don’t even need a cocktail shaker for half of them. Some, like the Margarita and Sea Breeze are great for parties: just increase the quantities to match your number of guests and mix them in a big pitcher or jug, ready to serve into ice-filled glasses.
Many people in Mexico have laid claim to inventing the Margarita, including Francisco ‘Pancho’ Morales at Tommy’s Place in Juárez, Chihuahua and Carlos ‘Danny’ Herrera at Rancho La Gloria in Baja California. Either way, the drink is a twist on Prohibition Era classic, the Daisy, made with Tequila instead of brandy: ‘margarita’ means ‘daisy’ in Spanish. I prefer my Margaritas served short on the rocks, but you can also serve them without ice in a cocktail glass.
Best tequilas for Margaritas: Patrón Silver, Herradura Silver, El Rayo Plata, Cazcabel Blanco, Don Julio Blanco
- Ingredients: 50 ml Tequila, 25ml lime juice, 20ml triple sec
- Glass: rocks or cocktail
- Garnish: salt and lime wedges
- Method: Prepare your glass by sprinkling a few teaspoons of salt into a saucer, rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass to moisten it, then dip the rim into the salt to coat it. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice and triple sec, then shake well until the outside of the shaker feels cold. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or straight up in a cocktail glass and garnish with lime wedges.
Created in Cuba, the Mojito’s refreshing blend of citrus and mint flavours make it an ideal summer cooler. Always use freshly squeezed lime juice, but remember that some limes are more sour than others. So use the measurements below as a guide: taste the drink and add a little more sugar syrup or lime if it tastes too sweet or too sharp.
Five best rums for Mojitos: Havana Club Anejo Blanco, Bacardi Carta Blanca, Mount Gay Silver, Plantation 3 Stars, El Dorado 3 Year Old White
- Ingredients: 50ml white rum, 25ml fresh lime juice, 15ml sugar syrup, 12 mint leaves, soda water to top
- Glass: Highball
- Garnish: Mint sprig
- Method: Slap the mint leaves between your hands and drop them in the glass. Add the lime juice and sugar syrup, give the ingredients a quick stir, fill half the glass with crushed ice, pour in the rum, stir everything until thoroughly mixed, fill the rest of the glass with crushed ice, top with soda water and gently stir again. Garnish.
A huge summer hit in the 1980s, the pink Sea Breeze cocktail actually traces its roots back to Prohibition era, when the original 1920s recipe included grenadine and apricot brandy. The modern version of the drink is one of the easiest summer cocktails to prepare.
Five best vodkas for Sea Breezes: Absolut Blue, Ketel One, Smirnoff Red, Grey Goose, Finlandia
- Ingredients: 50ml vodka, 100ml cranberry juice, 50ml grapefruit juice
- Glass: Highball
- Garnish: lime wedge
- Method: Half-fill a highball glass with ice then pour in the vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice. Stir gently to mix, until the outside of the glass feels cold. Top up with more ice if necessary and garnish with slices of lime.
With its eye-catching orange colour and bitter-sweet taste, Aperol Spritz is the drink that started our current love affair with the spritz category. Spritzes originated in the 19th century, when invading soldiers in northern Italy diluted strong local wines with a ‘spritzen’ of sparkling water. Italians later added amaro, or bitter spirits, to the mix, creating the spritz we know today. Spritzes can be made with a range of different amaros if you fancy a change from Aperol.
Five best amaros for spritzes: Aperol, Contratto Aperitif, Select, Campari, Amaro Nonino
- Ingredients: 75ml Prosecco, 50ml Aperol, 25ml soda water to top
- Glass: Wine
- Garnish: Orange slice
- Method: Fill the glass with ice and build the ingredients in the glass, first pouring in the Aperol, then the Prosecco and finishing with the soda. Stir and garnish.
This mix of bourbon, sugar and mint has its roots in the American South, originally as a medicinal drink. Originally a drink for well-to-do Southerners, who could afford both the ice and the silver Julep cup, Kentucky senator Henry Clay popularised Mint Juleps in the 1850s and they became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938. If you don’t have a Julep tin, a jam jar or highball glass will be fine.
Best bourbons for Mint Juleps: Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses Single Barrel, Wild Turkey 101, Buffalo Trace
- Ingredients: 65ml bourbon, 10 mint leaves, 12.5ml sugar syrup
- Glass: Julep tin
- Garnish: large sprig of mint
- Method: Fill a shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, mint leaves and sugar syrup, the shake well until the outside of the shaker feels cold. Strain into a Julep tin filled with crushed ice. Churn gently with a long-handled spoon to mix, then top with more crushed ice and garnish.
A summer drink that’s so popular it even has its own song. Invented at the Caribe Hilton hotel in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan in 1954, the Piña Colada became the official drink of Puerto Rico in 1978. Made with pineapple and coconut it’s the ultimate tropical mix.
Best rums for Piña Coladas: Bacardi Pineapple, Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Coconut, Wray & Nephew White Overproof, Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, Malibu
- Ingredients: 90ml pineapple juice, 60ml white rum, 60ml coconut cream
- Glass: Highball
- Garnish: pineapple slices
- Method: Put all of the ingredients into a blender with a few cubes of ice. Blend until smooth.