7 Cool Cocktails for Warm-Weather Sipping

With the warmth of the spring and summer months comes the almost near necessity to cool down. It’s instinct, really: We turn on the AC, shed those jackets, and turn to ice-cold drinks to help beat the heat. We’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest cocktail recipes to help give you a head start.

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1. Pomegranate Mojito with Vanilla Sugar

Class up a classic by adding one of this year’s trendiest flavors to the mojito: pomegranate. Homemade vanilla sugar is an optional — but very welcome — addition. Returning to the regular mojito might be hard after trying this version from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

Ingredients

Mojito

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, or to taste (recipe follows)
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • cracked ice
  • 6 sprigs fresh mint

Vanilla sugar

  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and crosswise
  • 4 cups granulated sugar

Serves 1.

Directions: In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the mint and shake well. Mull the mint in the bottom of a cocktail glass. Strain the pomegranate mixture into the glass with the mulled mint and serve.

For vanilla sugar: In a large container with an airtight closure, place half of the sugar. Add the bean quarters and cover with the remaining 2 cups of sugar. Close tightly. Place in a cool, dark place. Twice a day, shake the container to distribute the vanilla essence. Continue the process for at least 1 week and up to 3 weeks. Replace the sugar as it is used.

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2. Watermelon-Tequila Cocktail

Watermelon is in abundance in the summer, and what better way to put it to use than in cocktail form? Here, blueberries, lime juice, and strained watermelon come together to create one of Bobby Flay’s best summer cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 cups diced seedless watermelon (1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 3/4 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
  • 1 1/4 cups silver tequila
  • ice

Serves 8.

Directions: In a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer with the sugar and stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute; let the sugar syrup cool. In a blender, puree the watermelon until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the watermelon juice, pressing gently on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.

In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, blueberries, and mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the blueberries and mint. Add the watermelon juice and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Pour the cocktail into tall, ice-filled glasses. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve.

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3. Vodka Lavender Thyme Lemonade

If you’re looking for something heartier and more intoxicating than what you can find at those token summer lemonade stands, then this drink is for you. Simple yet elegant, Saveur’s recipe may very well become your new summer lemonade.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender
  •  1 bunch thyme
  •  4 cups sparkling lemon soda
  •  1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • thin-sliced lemon wheels, for garnish

Serves 4-6.

Directions: Boil sugar and 3/4 cup water in a 2-quart saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add lavender and thyme; let herb syrup cool and then strain into a pitcher filled with ice. Stir in sparkling lemon soda, vodka, and lemon juice; garnish with sliced lemons.

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4. Cucumber Cooler Cocktail

If simple is the name of your game, then this cocktail from Minimalist Baker might be your winner. Simple, light and — best of all — crunchy, it’s the perfect drink to whip up for guests on short notice.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces gin (or 3 tablespoons)
  • 4-6 cucumber slices
  • 1/4 lime, sliced
  • 4 ounces tonic water
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

Serves 1.

Directions: Add mint, lime, gin, sugar (if using; for those who prefer a sweeter drink, add sugar to taste — however, it’s also quite enjoyable without) to shaker and muddle. Next, add cucumber slices to shaker and shake vigorously. Pour mixture over glass filled with ice and top with tonic water. Stir and let set for a few minutes for the flavors to enhance.

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5. Blood Orange Margarita

If you’ve ever wonder what blood oranges are good for, then add “margaritas” to your list, as this sweet and salty drink from Cookie + Kate is seemingly just what the doctor ordered for the summer months.

Ingredients:

Margarita

  • 2 ounces silver or blanco tequila
  • 2 ounces fresh blood orange juice (about 1 large blood orange, juiced)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, juiced)
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1 tiny drop pure vanilla extract (optional)

Salt and brown sugar rim

  • 2 teaspoons kosher sea salt and/or Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • lime wedges

Serves 1.

Directions: Mix together the salt and sugar on a small plate — preferably one just slightly larger than the top of your margarita glass. Run a wedge of lime around the top of your glass. Dip the top of the glass into the salt blend at a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. Add ice cubes to your glass and set it aside.

Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the tequila, freshly squeezed blood orange and lime juice, and agave nectar. If desired, add a drop of vanilla extract. Put on the lid and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the liquid into your glass and garnish with a slice of blood orange, if desired.

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6. Carolina Peach Sangria

This wine punch gets kicked up a notch with the addition of peaches and raspberries in this recipe from Southern Living. A bonus? The drink tastes even better if made a day ahead of time, so planners, take note.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (750 milliliters) rosé wine
  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup peach nectar (peach-flavored vodka may be substituted; omit peach nectar)
  • 6 tablespoons thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh raspberries (1 cup frozen raspberries may be substituted)
  • 2 cups club soda, chilled

Serves 7-9.

Directions: Combine first five ingredients in a pitcher; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in peaches and raspberries. Cover and chill 8 hours. Stir in chilled club soda just before serving.

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7. Blueberry Rum Smash

One of summer’s easiest cocktails, The Kitchn’s recipe will have you sipping in no time. All of the drink’s ingredients are incredibly easy to find, and chances are high that you already have them on hand. All you need is some brown sugar, lemon juice, blueberries, ginger ale, and rum.

Ingredients:

  • fresh (or frozen) blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ounces rum
  • ginger ale

Serves 1.

Directions: Cover the bottom of an old-fashioned glass or mason jar with blueberries — if using a smaller glass, make a double layer. Add the brown sugar and lemon juice and muddle (or mash with the back of a spoon) until the sugar is melted; the idea is to break the skins of the blueberries but not to mash them into a pulp.

Fill the glass with crushed ice and then add the rum. Top with ginger ale and stir.

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