Perfect Summer Cocktail Recipes

June is just around the corner, and with the full force of the Houston summer about to descend upon us, nothing sounds more refreshing than a frosty adult beverage, but it can get boring sticking with a cold beer or chilled white wine all summer. Here are a few of our favorite summer cocktails to chill out with on a hot day.

Frozen drinks taste so much better outdoors on a hot day. Stock up on ice and get ready to make a pitcher of frozen margaritas, strawberry daiquiris, or piña coladas for a special weekend treat. Concentrated drink mixes in the freezer section of your grocery store make excellent mixers for frozen cocktails. Frozen limeade concentrate outperforms most margarita mixes sold at the liquor store by a wide margin, and there are lots of flavors to choose from. For a truly stellar margarita, use one shot of tequila and a half shot each of Cointreau and brandy per glass, along with plenty of freshly-squeezed lime juice and agave nectar to taste. Blend with ice and serve in a chilled glass with a salted rim. Nothing beats a perfectly crafted margarita when it’s 100 degrees out!

Try mixing fresh fruit and herbs into your cocktails to give them an extra refreshing boost. Then you can kind of pretend they’re healthy, too. Anything that contains whole fruit is basically a smoothie, right? Freeze pitted fresh cherries, strawberries, mango, kiwi, pineapple, or cubes of melon and blend them into your frozen cocktails to make a wide array of flavored margaritas that will put your favorite Mexican place to shame. Experiment with different juices, liquors, and fruits to come up with your very own signature cocktail. For a refreshing tropical flavor, combine muddled mint, lime juice,  sugar, rum, and a little soda to make mojitos, a popular Cuban cocktail. Swap out the rum with a Brazilian sugar cane liquor called cachaça (you can find it at the big Spec’s on Smith Street) and you’ve got yourself a caipirinha, the official beverage of Rio de Janeiro beach bums.

Planning to be outside enjoying adult beverages for an extended period of time at a tailgate, beach day, or out on the golf course? Pace yourself with low-alcohol mixes like wine spritzers or rädler, a German summer drink made by combining wheat beer about 50/50 with lemonade or lemon-lime soda. Combine a fruity Spanish red like Rioja with Sprite and serve over ice for a Barcelona beachside favorite called tinto de verano. By sticking with drinks that are low on booze, you’ll save yourself some calories and be able to make it to the end of the day without regrets. You’ll still want to rotate in water with those weaker drinks, though! Hydration is key to imbibing without consequences, especially in hot weather.

If you’re headed to the beach or pool for the afternoon, plan ahead and make up a big batch of cocktails that can be transported easily in a sealed pitcher or bottle. (Pro-tip: empty orange juice or lemonade containers with screw-on lids make a great serving device and won’t cost you a dime!) Combine orange juice, pineapple juice, coconut rum, and club soda to taste for a fizzy, fruity concoction that isn’t overly sweet. Alternatively, you could use cranberry juice and limeade with vodka, strawberry lemonade and whisky, or any fruit juice blend you enjoy for a custom creation. The options are endless! Mix the liquor and juices together at home and then add the carbonated ingredients when serving to keep it from going flat. As a bonus, making kind of a cocktail concentrate like this will let you customize the strength of each individual cocktail and bring more servings without doing a lot of beachside bartending, so you have more quality time with your crew. Bottoms up!