Happy(ier) hour summer cocktail recipes

Its mid-July in Massachusetts: Which means that the temperature outside has (finally) reached sizzling levels. I find that there’s nothing better than cooling off near the pool with a refreshing cocktail and some friends to beat the heat.

But what to make? Sure, there’s lemonade and iced tea, but for those at the right age, something with a slightly extra kick is sometimes appreciated, and helps you relax and enjoy your time not in an office or behind a counter.

There are so many summer cocktail recipes, it’s virtually impossible to try them all in one season. So here are some of my favorites to get you started.

The Salty Dog

I usually make cocktails as pretty as possible …

A simple drink, a salty dog is a go-to when you’re out to brunch on a patio under the searing sun, or sitting on the back deck having some BBQ.


  • 1 ½ oz of Vodka
  • Fine sea salt or rim salt
  • ¾ cup no-pulp grapefruit juice (the fresher the better)

Salt the rim of your highball glass by placing a lemon around the edge and pouring salt into a plate and rolling gently. Fill the glass with ice, add in the grapefruit juice, add a pinch of salt to the vodka, and pour. Stir and enjoy!

Hint: Hate salt of the mineral variety? The non-sodium version is called a Greyhound.

The Gin Fizz

Fizzy and delicious.

Is it refreshing? Yes. Is it old school? Yes. Is it pretty? Yes.

The gin fizz is an absolute classic (and for good reason) – it’s light, and has a wonderful citrus flavor. There are so many variations of the “’insert alcohol you like here’ fizz,” but in the summer, I tend to gravitate towards lighter liquor, making this recipe one of my faves.


  • 2 oz gin
  • Lime juice
  • ½ tsp fine sugar
  • Egg white (Optional, but I recommend it for the unique fluffy texture it grants)
  • Soda water
  • Maraschino cherry to make it look pretty

Pour the gin, lime juice, sugar, and egg white into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously – like, shake-weight level vigorous—and even more than that if using the egg white to ensure it’s mixed enough. Strain into a highball glass with ice. Top off with soda water and garnish with a cherry.

Hint: One type of alcohol not enough? Add sparkling wine instead of soda water for a “diamond” fizz.

Mint Julep

You can bet this drink will be a hit.

The drink of champions – and the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby – the mint julep is a delightful bourbon cocktail that screams class and horse racing.


  • Fresh mint sprigs (5-6)
  • ½ oz simple syrup (2 parts water, 1 parts sugar, boiled and cooled)
  • 2 ½ oz bourbon whisky
  • Crushed ice

Place the mint and simple syrup into a julep cup (usually silver to keep the frost), or an old-fashioned glass. Muddle the mint well to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma (Don’t tear the mint up –do the muddling gently). Add in your go-to bourbon, fill with crushed ice and place some mint on top (pinkies up).

Hint: If you can, go with higher quality bourbon. Just because you’re drinking a classy drink, and it’ll probably taste better too. 

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise garnished with orange and cherry, shot on a white background.
The Eagles know a good cocktail when they see one.

This drink gives me major island vibes, and I pretend like I’m on a tropical vacation every time I order one (or make one in my kitchen while watching a Kitchen Nightmares marathon).


  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz tequila
  • ½ oz grenadine (cherry syrup)
  • Orange slice to make it look pretty
  • Maraschino cherry to make it look pretty

Pour the tequila and the juice into a glass with ice cubes and stir. Slowly pour the grenadine around the inside edge of the glass. By doing this slowly, it will create the ‘sunrise’ effect in the glass. Top with an orange and cherry and enjoy.

Hint: Want to use the Patron for this one? Don’t – I recommend saving the best tequila for margaritas where it affects the taste more. 

 Peach Sangria

Sangria is an essential party drink.

Can I just tell you really quick about how much I love sangria. It’s sweet, refreshing, goes down smooth, and is so fruity it tastes like a summer picnic. Since peaches come to season in the summer, it only makes sense to use the freshest fruits available.


  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz brandy
  • 2 oz triple sec
  • 1 c orange juice
  • 1 c pineapple juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz white peach puree
  • Fresh peaches, oranges, and apples, sliced

Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve over ice.

Hint: As long as it’s refrigerated, the mix can last a week.

Lavender-Sage Cooler

Throwback from my last post. #tbt.

I know what you’re thinking: After my last post about Cape Cod Lavender Farm, you‘re dreaming up all the different things you can make with fresh lavender. Below, find a drink recipe for a lavender-sage cooler – herbal and tasty, it combines the smells and tastes of summer into one delicious drink.


  • Ice
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lavender vermouth
  • ¾  oz lemon juice
  • ½  oz honey
  • 2 oz chilled soda water
  • 3 – 4 sage leaves
  • 1 sage sprig, to make it look pretty
  • 1 lavender sprig, to make it look pretty

Add the gin, vermouth, lemon juice and honey to a drink shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Muddle the sage leaves (gently) in the glass and fill with ice. Strain the mixture over the ice, stir in the soda water and add lavender and sage to make it look pretty.

Hint: Read my last post HERE to learn more about what you can do with (and where to find) fresh lavender.

 These drinks should be enough to get your summer hang started or your cookout cranking. Just please remember not to drink and drive!




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