Bartenders Tell Us Their Favorite Summer Cocktails

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Summer is almost over. But, there’s still time to enjoy a summery cocktail or two. Once fall begins in a little over a month, the fresh, fruity flavors of summer will give way to the rich, bold flavors of fall. But, like we said, there’s still time to enjoy a cocktail made with gin, vodka, tequila, and rum and with fresh pineapple, berries, and other seasonal favorites. Now, the biggest question is what to imbibe during these final summer weeks? Luckily, we don’t have to make those kinds of decisions on our own. That’s because we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite cocktails to wind down the summer with. You can check out their answers below.

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“In Miami, where the summers are scorching hot, a good mojito is the best drink for summer. For a good mojito, you’ll need a good amount of muddling of fresh mint leaves – but trust me that makes all the difference. As you bask in the sun with your mojito you’ll never want to leave the beach.” – Lindsey Alvarado, beverage manager at Playa Largo Resort & Spa in Key Largo, Florida

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“Piña Colada. You can never go wrong with coconut. It’s very refreshing on a hot day.”-Thurman Pierce, Bartender at JW Marriott Chicago

“I enjoy our very own TX Julep during these sweltering summer months. With mint muddled in pineapple and cranberry juice and topped with Firestone & Robertson’s TX Whiskey, this twist on a mint julep is both refreshing and tasty.” – Sky Prindle Zeller, Mixologist at Waters Restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas

“My favorite classic summer cocktail is “The Last Word”. Consisting of gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice it’s an herbaceous, refreshing, and tart cocktail ideal for sipping on a hot Savannah day. It’s a true classic that has stood the testament of time.” – Nick Gulizia, bar manager at The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market in Savannah, Georgia

“Without a doubt my favorite classic summer cocktail is a Dark & Stormy with fresh lime juice, Ginger beer, with a black rum float (preferably Goslings or Meyers Dark). It’s crisp, refreshing, and well-balanced. Even if it isn’t on the menu, any bar that serves a Moscow mule most likely has the necessary ingredients for this drink, as it is basically a Moscow mule with dark rum instead of vodka – when the rum is floated over the top of the drink it looks like dark storm clouds mixing into the cocktail. Why I love it? It can be made stiff without being a negative to flavor and is so well balanced it’s good for any occasion, afternoons by the pool, or a way to finish a summer day.” – Ben Sinon, general manager and beverage director at Wrigley Mansion in Chicago

“My favorite summer cocktail is two-fold. For dinner or happy hour, I usually order a true Old Fashioned – preferably Wisconsin style served with Gentleman Jack, fresh orange & dark cherry. However, if I’m looking for a cocktail to enjoy in my backyard or on the patio I opt for a Strawberry Cooler. This cocktail is simple to make at home, beginning by blending your favorite tequila, fresh strawberries, pineapples & fresh lime.” – Brad Manske, VP and beverage director at Viewhouse in Denver

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“My favorite summer cocktail is a French 75 due to the perfect balance of Gin, lemon and sparkling wine on a sweltering summer day.” – Craig Welsh, head bartender at Boulud Sud in Miami

“Mine would have to be a Mezcal Last Word. A traditional Last Word is comprised of Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liquor, and lime juice, all equal parts. This version that I love so much replaces the gin with mezcal and sway the proportions slightly to be mezcal heavy and maraschino light. Mezcal has such great smoky properties that pair well with the herbaceousness of the Chartreuse, the slight sweetness of the maraschino, and the tartness of the lime. Mezcal is a fantastic addition to any cocktail, and this cocktail combines an American classic with a beloved Mexican spirit to create a well-balanced refreshing summer delight.” – Dorothy Rondomanski, Lead bartender at Assembly in Philadelphia

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“My favorite Classic Summer Cocktail has got to be the Tom Collins. Such a simple cocktail that can go so far in your summer arsenal. I love using raw powdered sugar instead of a simple syrup to add a nice full mouthfeel while still remaining effervescent and refreshing. It’s also a fun drink to add fresh fruit and summer vegetables to give the drink a flavorful twist.” – Beau Kelly-Fontano, bar manager at Acadia in Chicago

“In Austin, Texas, the answer is clear: Margarita. Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and a bit of sugar. Nothing hits the spot more than a margarita!” – Jeff Hammett, beverage director for Chameleon Group in Austin, Texas

“My go-to summer cocktail is the classic Gimlet. Now, it’s the Rope Swing, Stay Gold’s take on this classic with our house made Lime Cucumber Cordial and Woody Creek Gin.” – Kacie Lambert, head bartender at Stay Gold in New York City

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“My favorite classic summer cocktail is a Frozen Ultima Palabra. Nothing beats the flavor amalgamation of smokey mezcal, sweet and herbal chartreuse, sophisticated Luxardo and sour citrus served frozen.” – Steven Minor, beverage director at DRIFT in Miami

“You just can’t beat a good Gin & Tonic. Dusty Grable, the Head Mixologist at our new Oahu Merriman’s, makes the best one EVER, using St George ‘Terroir’ Gin, Fever Tree Tonic, and a triple-punching garnish of fresh Juniper Berries, Cardamom Seeds, and a sprig of Sage all floating on top.  You put your nose above the drink and those garnishes just welcome you right in.” – Jim Lunchick, mixologist, head bartender and sommelier at Merriman’s Waimea in Hawaii

“For my go-to Summer cocktail that is usually a gin and tonic or a mojito, but if I’m getting fancy a Queens Park Swizzle is ideal, its mojito like but with crushed ice and multiple rums and Toby always put a little either falernum or yellow chartuese in his which I adopted as well.” – Kyle Davidson, beverage director at Elske in Chicago

“I love a Daiquiri in the summer – as simple as it is, it can really show a degree of bartender craftsmanship. There are layers of finesse that can make it even more special. That said, even a sloppy one is pretty drinkable!” – Brian Evans, head bartender at Sunday in Brooklyn in NYC