Unconventional Summer Cocktails for an Unconventional Summer


It’s only June, and already Summer 2020 is not living up to the expectations I had back in January. Maybe, like me, you have had to cancel a vacation to a beautiful resort where you would have sat by a luxurious pool sipping ice-cold cocktails that came with tiny, colorful umbrellas. And maybe you’re thinking you’re going to be stuck at home with your beach chair in your kids’ blow-up pool while drinking yet another pre-mixed margarita. Well, you’re wrong. Not about the beach chair in the blow-up pool, that’s totally happening, but this year we’re taking cocktails to the next level.

Summer 2020 may be a little less exciting, but it doesn’t have to be boring. By stocking your bar cart and trying out a few new cocktail recipes, you can close your eyes and pretend you are on that vacation you had to cancel. Here are a few recipes I’ve recently fallen in love with along with my tips for successful cocktailing.

I love margaritas. You love margaritas…

But there’s so much more you could be doing with tequila. Enter, the Tequila Sour. Do not be afraid of the egg white! It is a pivotal ingredient and 100% not optional. It makes this drink frothy and delightful, like drinking a tequila-soaked cloud.  

Frothy, Tequila-Soaked Dream Cloud

Tequila Sour

  • 1.5 oz Tequila
  • .75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • .5 oz Simple Syrup
  • .75 oz Egg White

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake until your arms hurt, and you vow to work out more often. Add ice and keep shaking. Strain into a glass over ice. Drink the tequila cloud.

Pro Tip: It never hurts to have some homemade simple syrup on hand. 

Many recipes will call for this easy-to-make ingredient, and I like to keep a small mason jar of it in my refrigerator. I take one cup of sugar and one cup of water, bring it to boil and then simmer until it reduces to a nice syrupy consistency. It will thicken as it cools. You can add fresh mint leaves or orange peel during the simmering process to infuse your syrups with flavor. I like to use the mint syrup as a quick cheat for Mint Juleps and Mojitos.

Tom Collins: The Perfect Man of Summer

Like the perfect man, this drink is refreshing, effervescent, and not too overpowering, thus making it perfect for a hot summer day. 

Tom Collins

  • 2 oz Dry Gin
  • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • .5 oz Simple Syrup
  • Club Soda

Add gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a glass filled with ice and stir. Top off with however much club soda makes you happy and gently stir to combine.

Pro Tip: Make adjustments to suit your taste.

Any recipe can be altered depending on how you like it. If you want a sweeter vibe, add more syrup. If you prefer it tart, add more citrus. It’s your thang; do whatcha wanna do.

Fan of Aperol? 

If you’re one of the many who have fallen for the Aperol Spritz craze, then try out a Negroni, which contains Compari, Aperol’s stylish older sister. 

The Perfect Pour


  • 1 oz Dry Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Vermouth Rosso

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and stir. Strain into a glass over ice. Close your eyes. Sip. Imagine you’re on a yacht in the Italian Riviera. 

Pro Tip: Build up a collection of common cocktail ingredients. 

Besides your basic liquors – Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Gin, and Whiskey – you can also fill your summer bar cart with items such as sweet and dry vermouth, Aperol and/or Compari, club soda, citrus fruit, bitters, and ginger beer (because anything can be called a mule with some ginger beer and a copper mug).

For when you’re ready to play 18 holes, but lack the motivation to leave your yard…

The John Daly, aka the Spiked Arnold Palmer, is the way to go. Drinker beware: this cocktail can be dangerous. The sweetness and flavors for the mixers tend to mask the vodka a little too well. You’ve been warned.

John Daly

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • Iced Tea
  • Lemonade

Pour vodka into a glass over ice. Top off with a 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade. 

Pro Tip: Invest in the equipment.

It doesn’t take much to put together a proper bar cart. All you need to get started is a shaker, a jigger for measuring, and a long bar spoon for mixing. 

Put down that “ready-to-drink” daiquiri bottle!

Daiquiris have become synonymous with thick, syrupy, fruit-flavored frozen drinks that will often lead to brain freeze and sugar overload. This is not that kind of drink. This is way better.

Classic Daiquiri shaken with mango puree.

Classic Daiquiri

  • 1.5 oz Light Rum
  • .75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • .25 oz Simple Syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake to combine. Strain into a chilled glass. Tiny umbrella optional, but highly encouraged. You can also add pureed fruit to the shaker for a flavored daiquiri or put all of the ingredients in a blender with ice to make a frozen cocktail (but who really wants to clean the blender. Don’t you do enough dishes?). 

Pro Tip: Stay hydrated! 

The last thing you need during your unconventional summer is an unconventional hangover. Please drink responsibly.

What are your favorite summer cocktails?

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Jessica grew up in Redding and, after going to college in Virginia, grad school in DC, and living in Maryland for a few years, she ultimately made her way back to Fairfield County. Jessica is grateful to have her family nearby as she navigates through life with her husband, Rob, her son, Carter, and her furry firstborn, Madison. In her free time, she is an outspoken advocate for oxford commas, knowing the difference between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, and cocktail hour. Jessica is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. When she grows up, she would like to be a backup singer.


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