12 Summer Cocktails That Bring the Party Home

From a level-upped margarita to a spicy lemonade.
watermelon mojitos
Courtesy of Girl Versus Dough

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Summer isn’t here until you’re seated comfortably under the sun with an icy cocktail in tow. The more refreshing it is, the better, and ideally it should be just strong enough to give you a comfortable buzz. The (sometimes literal) cherry on top? If it also makes use of all the excellent produce that’s about to be in season. 

These 12 cocktails do all of those things while giving classic, warm-weather drinks much-needed updates. Instead of another basic margarita, amp it up with charred pineapple. Or swap your usual Aperol Spritz for a version that’s brimming with fresh summer melon and cherries. When you can’t stomach the thought of another glass of rosé, they’ll be just what you need. 

Fresh Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary
Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

How Sweet Eats makes this brunch favorite even more delicious by using heirloom tomatoes when they’re at their peak. It’s a thousand times more refreshing than the bottled or boxed mix you might be used to and will give you serious spiked gazpacho vibes. 

Citrus Melon Spritzer

Melon Spritzer
Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

Cherries and juicy honeydew come together harmoniously in this number from Minimalist Baker. The nice thing about it is that you can easily swap in whichever liquor you most prefer, though it pairs especially well with white spirits like gin and vodka. And if you feel like going alcohol-free, it also tastes great without the booze.

Charred Pineapple Margarita With Sage

Pineapple margarita
Courtesy of Brooklyn Supper

This libation from Brooklyn Supper is smoky in more ways than one. Aside from the obvious, it also contains sage, bitters, and chipotle salt, all of which really amp up the smoky factor. Save it for occasions where you’ll have a grill to cook the pineapple—and don’t be afraid to let it get a little burnt. 

The Prickly Lady Cocktail

Prickly Lady Cocktail
Courtesy of Love and Olive Oil

Prickly pears are hard to come by, but now if you do you’ll know exactly what to do with them. This pink drink from Love and Olive Oil makes the most of the vibrant fruit by combining it with spicy, sweet, and smoky ingredients that balance its tart flavor. Prepare your palate for ginger liqueur, mezcal, and lots of lime. 

Basil Plum Pimm’s Cup

Pimm's Cup
Courtesy of Bojon Gourmet

This recipe from Bojon Gourmet adapts a timeless British cocktail for the summer by adding crisp chopped plums in favor of orange slices. You want them to be more firm than soft so that they don’t dissolve in the alcohol. That way you’re left with a sweet, crunchy snack by the time you finish your drink. 

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Smash

Blueberry smash drink
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Berries of all shapes and sizes are best when fresh and even better when inside this cocktail from Half Baked Harvest. Instructions are provided that will easily help you make swaps as needed. Don’t have blueberries? Use whichever berries you do have. No whiskey? Make it with tequila instead. 

Strawberry Clover Club

Pink cocktails
Courtesy of Best Friends for Frosting

This drink from Best Friends for Frosting comes together with just four ingredients: gin, a strawberry-raspberry syrup, lemon juice, and an egg white. If you’re nervous about consuming raw eggs, using a tablespoon of aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) will give you similar results without affecting the flavor. 

Spicy Cherry Bourbon Lemonade

Cherry Bourbon Lemonade
Courtesy of Domesticate Me

This spiked lemonade from Domesticate Me is all about the cherries, so make sure you pick up the ripest batch you can find at the farmers’ market. As for the lemonade, feel free to use either a store-bought or homemade option—both will taste great!

Watermelon Mojito

Girl Versus Dough makes mojitos even more refreshing than they already are by simply adding watermelon. To really bring out the flavor of the fruit, add just a pinch of your favorite flaky salt before serving. It may sound strange, but it totally works. 

Grapefruit Salty Dog

grapefruit salty dog
Courtesy of The Cookie Rookie

This pink beauty by The Cookie Rookie is actually a simple two-ingredient mixer. Combine vodka and grapefruit juice, and serve over lots of ice in glasses heavily rimmed in sea salt. Garnish with grapefruit slices for added sweetness and instant cocktail glam.

Kentucky Woman

kentucky woman cocktail
Photography by Meghan McNeer

This bourbon drink, courtesy of the Bar Truck, comes to life with the addition of a shrub aka a drinking vinegar. The purple from the blackberries takes it above and beyond in both taste and Instagrammability.

Pink Beer Amaro

Pink beer
Photography by Meghan McNeer

Take your bottled beer into that summer sweet spot of high-low drinking. All you need to do is add a shot of amaro: Then voilà! Pink beer with a dynamic flavor profile. We recommend Miller High Life (most likely because it’s the champagne of beers), but anything in a clear bottle will do.

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