10 of the Best Summer Cocktail Recipes

It's that time of year again. Yes, it probably is time for you to change your air filters, but that's not what I'm talking about here. For our purposes, it's time for another seasonal cocktail menu and recipe post. Summer is full-on right now in Los Angeles. The 90-degree days are back, June Gloom (yes, that's thing in Southern California) is burning off, and it's time to dust off the punch bowls. I recently came at you with seven of my favorite summer bourbon cocktails, while today is a general cocktail recipe round-up of 10 of my favorite summer cocktails.

Smash of the Titans

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • .75 oz. simple syrup
  • .25 oz. lemon juice
  • 3 kumquats
  • Oregano leaves

This is one of my new favorite cocktails. I had it a couple months ago at the Clover Club, where the Smash of the Titans originated, from bartender Travis St. Germain. However, kumquats (tart citrus that looks like a baby orange) aren't always easy to come by, since I'll only see them from time to time at my local supermarket in L.A. But if you can get your hands on it, this is a cocktail that really bursts with flavor (for no more ingredients then it has). To make it, you'll begin by muddling the kumquats and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add in the bourbon, lemon juice, and ice and shake. Pour, unstrained, into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with oregano.

Bourbon Stone Sour

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • Orange slice
  • Cherry

This is hands down my favorite cocktail on a hot summer day. And it's also the perfect starter cocktail for those who don't like whiskey-forward cocktails. The Bourbon Stone Sour cocktail is a nice balance of sweet and sour with a little bit more fruit then your typical whiskey cocktail. Not to mention it's super easy to make. Simply add all of the ingredients (except the orange slice and cherry) to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Pour into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with an orange slice and cherry.


  • 2 oz. tequila
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • Grapefruit soda (Bundaberg's sparkling grapefruit soda, in this case)
  • Grapefruit for garnish

This is my tequila cocktail. Yes, I love a margarita, and the many variations of it, but I really gravitate to the Paloma because of the grapefruit. What's unique about it is that I've never seen it made the same way twice. Some use grapefruit soda, while others use fresh grapefruit juice and club soda, while others add sugar. For this Paloma cocktail, I prefer Bundaberg's grapefruit soda, which can be hard to find, but is worth it in this drink. Combine the tequila and lime juice to a glass with ice and stir. Top with grapefruit soda and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Raspberry Paloma Punch with Jalapeño-Infused Tequila

  • 24 oz. tequila
  • 24 oz. grapefruit soda (Bundaberg's sparkling grapefruit soda, in this case)
  • 6 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. agave nectar
  • 2 jalapeños sliced vertically
  • 12 raspberries

This is my latest cocktail recipe and one that I adapted from Guy Fieri, choosing to use grapefruit soda rather than grapefruit juice and jalapeño-infused tequila. For the jalapeño-infused tequila I sliced two jalapeños vertically and added it to a bottle of tequila and let it sit for a few hours (the spiciness of it will depend on how long you let it sit). Strain the tequila into a pitcher and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir, add ice, and serve. I largely eyed this recipe, so you may need to adjust the grapefruit soda, lime juice, and agave to your liking. May I recommend this cocktail pitcher recipe for your July 4th BBQ.

Peach Bourbon Smash

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon
  • .75 oz. peach simple syrup
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 peach slices
  • Several mint leaves

This is the official cocktail of Whiskey Tango Globetrot, since I made it in conjunction with the launch of the website. Being from the south and the land of bourbon and peaches, it only felt appropriate. A variation of a whiskey smash, the main difference is that I made an infused simple syrup with peaches rather than the traditional simple syrup recipe. To do this, simply take the traditional simple syrup recipe (equal parts water and sugar to a boil), and then bring it to boil with slices from a couple peaches, crushing the peaches once it’s come to a boil to release its juices. Remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes to cool. To make the peach bourbon smash cocktail you’ll muddle a couple peach slices and mint in a cocktail shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients with ice and then shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with mint and peach slices.

Boston Rum Punch

  • Bottle of Jamaica rum (750ml)
  • 24 oz. water
  • Peels of 4 lemons
  • 6 oz. Demerara sugar (or other raw sugar you have on hand)
  • 6 oz. lemon juice
  • Nutmeg to garnish

If you haven't gotten the impression yet, I've recently become obsessed with punches and big-batch cocktails. It's in part because making a big-batch drink, like a punch, is easier than making 10 separate cocktails when entertaining. This Boston Rum Punch, as I've dubbed it, isn't one I can take credit for. It comes from one of the top cocktail historians, David Wondrich. To prepare, begin by placing the peels of four lemons and six ounces of Demerara sugar in a Mason jar (as pictured, by Epicurious) and let it sit in the sun for several hours. The result is something of candied lemon peels, where the sugar has sucked up the oil from the lemons, giving it a more complex lemon flavor. Transfer to a pitcher and add rum, water, and lemon juice and stir. Garnish with nutmeg and add ice.

French 75

  • 3 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • Champagne (or cava)
  • Lemon to garnish

This is probably one of my new favorite classic cocktail recipes, dating back to World War I and named after the French canon by the same name. For me, champagne alone often feels like it's classing up the joint a little too much. But that's where the French 75 comes in. My drink friend and Wine Enthusiast editor, Joey Hernandez, sent me the French 75 cocktail recipe he uses, which I like in part because he recommends Cava, which produces the same desired effect of champagne, but without breaking the bank. To make the French 75 cocktail, add the gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a fancy glass, like a flute or coupe, and top with champagne (or Cava) and a lemon twist. Enjoy with your pinky up.

Raspberry Rose Gin and Tonic

  • 5 oz. raspberries
  • 2.5 oz. gin
  • 3 tbsp. caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1.5 oz. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. rosewater
  • Crushed ice
  • Tonic water
  • 1/2 lime for garnish
  • 1 tsp. dried rose petals (food grade, available at speciality food shops)

You guys, I have a confession to make. I don't like a Gin and Tonic. They've just never done it for me, yet I know many people drink them almost exclusively. But then my friend Christina, The Hungry Australian, sent me this Gin and Tonic cocktail recipe, and it's changed my tune. It's sweet, it's sour, it's fruity, it's delicious. You'll muddle the first five ingredients and can leave them to infuse for up to an hour or go ahead and continue with the drink preparation. Add crushed ice to a couple of glasses and pour the berry mixture equally into both glasses. Top with chilled tonic water and garnish with a lime slice and rose petals. How good does that look and sound?

Bluegrass Smash

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • .75 oz. raw honey syrup
  • 2 lemon quarters
  • 2 orange quarters
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Obviously, I have to feature a cocktail called the Bluegrass Smash with my southern roots. It couldn't be any more appropriate when you consider that I played the banjo for several years as a child (yes, really). This summer cocktail comes from one of the first bars I visited in L.A., The Mixing Room at the JW Marriott in Downtown Los Angeles, and naturally, is their drink of the month for July. To make it, muddle the orange, lemon, and rosemary in a cocktail shaker before adding the remaining ingredients. Add ice, shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon and a rosemary sprig.

Kentucky Bubble Bath

  • 2 oz. rye
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • .75 oz. agave syrup (1:1 ratio of agave to water)
  • .75 oz. Cynar (bitter liqueur from Italy)
  • 1 oz. lavender water (see recipe below)

A trend seems to be emerging here with Kentucky and whiskey. This summer cocktail recipe comes from one of my local neighborhood bars in Los Angeles, Plan Check. Come for the burgers (and happy hour), but stay for the cocktails. To make the Kentucky Bubble Bath, you'll need some time on your hands and access to French lavender (I know, easier said than done). To make the lavender water, boil three cups of water and add four ounces dried French lavender and let it sit overnight. When you're ready to make the cocktail, add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a glass filled with ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh English Lavender.

What are your favorite summer cocktails?