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Summer cocktail recipes to expand your happy hour horizons

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It’s getting hot outside, and you’re looking for a simple way to wow friends at your next party. Why not make some classy cocktails?

There are a good number of impressive and refreshing drinks you can make at home without needing any fancy equipment. From a coconutty pitcher drink to an inventive play on a gin and tonic, these five concoctions might be hard to put down.

The 7 essential cocktails every drinker should know how to make

If you don’t believe us, take it from the acclaimed female mixologists who shared the recipes of their favorite summer cocktails.

On the menu (click a recipe to jump ahead): Mortimer + Mauve | In the Dunes of the Cape | South Island Swizzle | Orchid in the Moonlight | P + T


1 serving

Adapted from Pamela Wiznitzer, former creative director of Seamstress in New York City.

This drink is a variation on the popular Manhattan once offered at Seamstress, a recently closed restaurant on the Upper East Side. It is named in memory of two pigs, Mortimer and Mauve, who resided at the WhistlePig distillery in Vermont.

• Ice
• 1 ¼ ounces rye
• 1 ¼ ounces chai-infused sweet vermouth (see NOTE)
• ½ ounce ginger liqueur, such as Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
• Twist of orange peel, for garnish


Place a large ice cube in a lowball glass. Add the rye, the chai-infused sweet vermouth and the ginger liqueur, stirring gently to incorporate. Twist the orange peel directly over the drink before dropping it in.

Note: To make chai-infused sweet vermouth, pour one 375-milliliter bottle of sweet vermouth into a large jar. Add 3 chai bags, making sure they are submerged. Let sit for 30 minutes, then discard the tea bags. Use a funnel to transfer the infused vermouth back into its original bottle, if desired. Seal and refrigerate for up to six months.

Wondering what the difference is between sweet vermouth and dry vermouth? The former has a more detectable spiciness, enhanced by the chai bags.

Nutritional analysis | Per serving: 190 calories, 0 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar


6 to 8 servings

Adapted from Gina Chersevani, founder of Buffalo & Bergen in Washington, D.C.

Chersevani’s summer drinks tend to go light on the alcohol, she says, “so you can enjoy a few without getting totally loaded in the heat” — this pitcher cocktail is no exception. In the Dunes of the

Cape is inspired by her love of piña coladas and named after a lyric from the Rupert Holmes song “Escape.”

• 1 cup tequila
• 1 cup agave syrup
• 1 cup fresh pineapple juice
• ½ cup fresh lime juice
• Ground cayenne pepper
• Ground cinnamon
• Ice
• 6 stems mint
• 8 6-ounce cans of coconut-flavored sparkling water (or another tropical flavor, like lime or mango)


Stir together the tequila, agave syrup, pineapple and lime juices, a pinch of cayenne and another of cinnamon in a large pitcher, until the agave has fully dissolved.

Fill the pitcher with ice, to the top. Insert the stems of mint straight down the sides of the pitcher (as if you were planting grass), then fill the pitcher with the sparkling water.

Serve the drinks over ice in a Collins glass.

Nutritional analysis | Per serving, based on 8: 210 calories, 0 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 32 g sugar


1 serving

Adapted from Abigail Gullo, head bartender at Compère Lapin in New Orleans.

• Ice
• 1 ounce Manzanilla sherry
• 1 ounce rhum agricole
• ½ ounce honey, or more as needed
• ½ ounce fresh lime juice
• 1 ounce coconut water
• About 1 ounce St. Lucian rum
• Lime wheel, for garnish


Fill a Collins or tall hurricane glass halfway with ice. Add the sherry, rhum agricole, honey, lime juice and coconut water. Use a swizzle stick to stir gently.

Hold an inverted spoon over the drink; gradually pour the St. Lucian rum onto the back of the spoon so that rum creates its own layer atop the drink. Garnish with the lime wheel.

Note: To make it easier to mix honey into the drink, consider using a homemade honey syrup instead. Simply add an equal amount of honey and water to a saucepan, and heat until the honey melts. Remove from heat, bottle the syrup and store in a fridge for up to two weeks.

Wondering what the difference between regular rum and rhum agricole is? Rhum agricole, which adds an earthy freshness to this drink, differs from regular rum in that it is distilled from fresh sugarcane juice instead of molasses. 

Manzanilla is the lightest variety of sherry and differs from cooking sherry, which includes added preservatives.

Nutritional analysis | Per serving: 180 calories, 0 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 19 g sugar


1 serving

Adapted from Lynnette Marrero, co-founder of the all-female Speed Rack cocktail competition.

This refreshing drink is inspired by the passion fruit juice that cocktail consultant Marrero’s grandmother used to make for her as a child in Puerto Rico. The flavors drawn from the fresh fruit and spicy ginger “are very summertime for us,” Marrero says.

Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur is available through online purveyors; a passion fruit juice or puree may be substituted. Marrero uses Morris Kitchen ginger syrup.

• Ice
• 1 ounce aged rum, such as Ron Zacapa Centenario rum
• 1 ounce mezcal
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• ½ ounce fresh lime juice
• ¾ ounce Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur (see headnote)
• ½ ounce store-bought or homemade ginger syrup (see headnote and NOTE)
• 3 ounces club soda


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rum, mezcal, bitters, lime juice, passion fruit liqueur and ginger syrup. Seal and shake vigorously for 20 seconds, then strain into a Collins or highball glass filled halfway with ice. Top with the soda.

Note: To make ginger syrup, combine 1 cup chopped ginger, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for two minutes. Remove from the heat; let it sit, covered, for at least two hours. Strain into a bottle, discarding the solids. Seal and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Nutritional analysis | Per serving: 230 calories, 0 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar

P + T

1 serving

Adapted from Franky Marshall, bar director at Le Boudoir in Brooklyn.

• Ice
• 1 ½ ounces white Pineau des Charentes (see headnote)
• 1 ounce tonic water
• Twist of grapefruit peel, for garnish
• 1 sprig fresh thyme, for garnish


Fill a wine glass with ice. Add the Pineau des Charentes and stir gently. Add the tonic water and stir again.

Garnish by placing the twist of grapefruit peel and the sprig of thyme in the drink.

Nutritional analysis | Per serving: 40 calories, 0 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

All recipes tested by Sonia Rao. Email questions to

We partnered with The Lily on this piece. The Lily is a publication of The Washington Post dedicated to elevating stories critical to the lives of women. Head to and follow along @thelilynews.

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