Drinks for the Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Ready to beat the heat with a cold beverage by the pool or on the patio? As temperatures climb into the 90s or even triple digits in some parts of the country, we asked IFWTWA (International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Assn.) members to contribute a summer drink recipe they’ve enjoyed during the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Try one tonight; maybe you’ll find a new favorite. Cheers!

Here they are, in alphabetical order. The first two are variations of the aperitif.

Aperitif Cocktail

Elaine J Masters

Aperitif Cocktail
Simple home summer refresher with Aperitivo and Champagne. © Elaine Masters

It was hot in Rome when I stumbled into the Aperitivo phenomenon. The happy hour spreads were perfect after walking the city for hours and especially when accompanied by a cool cocktail. At home I’ve experimented with similar chilled drinks to match my mood. I keep it simple. Read more about it on my TripWellGal website.

A shot of a digestif in a flute of Brut Champagne is my favorite but if it’s a modest night, I’ll splash Pelligrino with Aperol or Campari for flavor and color. If that’s too bitter, the sweetness of Fever Ginger Beer cuts the herbal bite beautifully.

Aperol Spritz

Scott Kendall

Aperol Spritz in Venice
Aperol Spritz in Venice at Paradiso Cafe in Castello ©Scott Kendall

In the summer of 2018, I was visiting my son, who was a Captain in the Air Force stationed at Aviano AFB in Italy. One day we drove to Venice, about an hour and a half south from where he lived in Sacile, to spend the day sight-seeing. One of the areas he wanted to take me was to Castello, the “greenest” part of Venice. Full of trees, green grass, a variety of plants, and wide streets, Castello was quite a change from the rest of Venice.

After about 30 minutes of walking east from my B&B past San Marco Square, we arrived at Castello and stopped in at the Paradiso Cafe, overlooking the Venetian Lagoon. Here is where my son introduced me to the Aperol Spritz, a very popular aperitif in Italy. The bright orange color, along with the light, refreshing flavors of Prosecco and Aperol and a slice of fresh orange for a garnish, made for a very delightful and refreshing drink.

1/3 glass of chilled Prosecco
1/3 glass of  of Aperol
Splash of club soda
Garnish with a slice of orange

Basil Vodka Chiller

Judi Cohen

Basil Vodka Chiller
Basil Vodka Chiller ©JudiCohen

Judi Cohen with Basil Vodka ChillerWhen Life Gives You Basil, Make a Basil Vodka Chiller! Over the last couple of weeks, I have made everything I could think of using the basil growing in abundance in my garden. Just when I thought I’d tried everything, I discovered my new, favourite summer cocktail, a Basil Vodka Chiller!

Ingredients For the Basil Syrup: (This will make enough for 8 drinks)
8 basil leaves
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

For the Cocktail:
1/2 to 1 ounce basil syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces vodka
4 basil leaves
4 ounces soda water


For the Basil Syrup: Add water, sugar and basil leaves to a small saucepan. Heat on high until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Stir regularly.  Remove from heat and let cool before straining.  Keep leftover basil syrup in the fridge for up to one week in a sealed container.

For the Cocktail: Combine 1 ounce basil syrup, lime juice and vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake for 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass. Add extra basil leaves, add soda water and stir.  Dress it up with basil leaves on the rim.


Since the basil syrup is quite sweet,  You can add less syrup and more soda water depending on your tastes. I have also made an equally refreshing non-alcoholic version.

It’s a light, refreshing cocktail for an afternoon in the sun and in the evenings before dinner.  The more chillers I serve, the better I feel about using up all my basil!!

Bloomer Droppers

Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Tropical Travel Girl

Bloomer Droppers drink
Bloomer Droppers drink made with fresh peaches ©Debbra Dunning Brouillette

I was first introduced to this frozen blender drink decades ago at a friend’s pool party. If you love peaches and are looking for a refreshing summertime drink to be enjoyed poolside, on your porch or patio, Bloomer Droppers are the perfect choice. But don’t drink too many, or you’ll be dropping your bloomers!

Blender with peaches for Bloomer Droppers drink

2-3 peaches, pitted but not peeled, cut into chunks
6 oz. frozen lemonade
4-6 oz. vodka (1/2 to 2/3 cup)
(Optional: 1-2 packets artificial sweetener – to taste)

Blend peaches, frozen lemonade and vodka, then continue to add ice to blender until it reaches a slushy consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy!



Cranberry-Sage Whiskey Cooler

Therese Iknoian

Cranberry Shrub Whiskey Drink
As the sun sets on a hot day, a Cranberry-Sage Whiskey Cooler is just the right refresher. ©2020 Therese Iknoian/HITravelTales.com

I am a whiskey girl. Making whiskey my go-to alcohol base for any drink, any season, so why not summer? Combining it with a splash of my homemade Cranberry-Sage Shrub gives it just the refreshing pop you need for a hot summer day. You may wonder what a shrub is: Basically, it’s an infusion of your choice of fruits, herbs, etc., mixed with sugar and vinegar.

For the Cranberry-Sage Shrub:
Roast 1 pound of cranberries on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the roasted cranberries into a quart mason jar, add 1 cup sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and a few fresh sage leaves. Shake, and let mull for a day or so. Strain before use.

For the Whiskey Cooler:
Drop several ice cubes into a rocks glass.
Measure 1-2 ounces of whiskey into the glass.
Add a 1-2 ounces of shrub juice, to taste.
Splash a dash, or more, of seltzer over the top, also to taste.
Garnish with a sprig of sage – unless it’s going to get in the way of the drinking part.

If you prefer a non-alcoholic drink, you can also drink shrubs with just sparkling water!

Fresh, Cool, & Smooth

Chris Cutler

Fresh, Cool and Smooth Smoothie Drink
Try a fresh fruit smoothie for a non-alcoholic option. ©ChrisCutler

Health issues I’m facing this summer have  limited much of what I can eat and drink. I’m supposed to drink 64+ ounces of liquid daily, something that I found difficult until my son suggested making smoothies. I make two-or-three a day now using Bai Antioxidant Waters and frozen fruit.

The recipe is simple:
8-ounces of Bai Zambia Bing Cherry or Bai Costa Rica Clementine
4 frozen black cherries
3 frozen pineapple chunks
2 frozen strawberries
3 frozen raspberries

NOTE: You can use any flavored water or juice and any frozen fruit, and you can add protein powder.

Place all together in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth.  Add more water if you want the drink to be more liquid.

Juschu Cocktail

Mary Farah
Along Comes Mary Blog

Juschu Cocktail
Juschu Cocktail at Dillingers, Olympia ©MaryFarah

As the summer temps begin to rise, I usually have one thing on my mind: tequila. Nothing quenches my thirst on a warm day like a margarita on the rocks or a tequila sunrise. That is, until I visited Dillingers in Olympia, Washington.

Known for their wide array of cocktails, the bartender kept recommending I try the Juschu. While I was skeptical at first, I realized if it’s got tequila, I’ll probably like it. Little did I know how much I would end up loving it. The perfect blend of sweet and sour thanks to honey and lime, I’ve come to recreate the Juschu at home quite often. While I may not have that lively bar environment I loved at Dillingers, it still hits the spot all the same.

Try it for yourself:

● 2 oz. Tequila (I like Hornitos)
● .75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
● .5 oz. 2:1 Honey Syrup
● 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well, pour into a chilled coupe and enjoy!

Lavender Lady Cocktail

Deirdre Michalski
Tastes and Travel

Lavender Lady Cocktail
Lavender Lady Cocktail ©Deirdre Michalski

My friend Norma Jean from Louisville introduced me to this drink and gave me my first bottle of Lavender Syrup. I have spent more than a few summers in Provence, France, and always enjoyed wandering through the fields of lavender. It seemed to go on for miles and was a heavenly scent. Since I cannot be there this year, this will be second best.

Ingredients: (Serves one cocktail in an oversized martini glass)
2 oz. Tito’s Vodka (or your Vodka preference)
5 oz. Lemonade
1 oz. Lavender Syrup*
4-6 ice cubes
Garnish- a sprig of lavender or a slice of fresh lemon.

Place the Vodka and Lemonade in a martini shaker.
Add ice cubes and shake vigorously 8 times.
With strainer secured, pour into a chilled, oversized martini glass.
With a spoon, toward the side of the glass, slowly pour the Lavender Syrup in.
It is heavy and will sink to the bottom creating a layered affect.
If preferred, you can include the Lavender Syrup before shaking the cocktail. It will not be layered, however it will have a lovely lavender hue to the drink.
Garnish with a sprig of lavender or a slice of fresh lemon.
*Can be purchased at www.Monin.com. They have 30 different flavors of syrups. I purchase a four pack in plastic 1 liter bottles, which make lovely hostess gifts along with the recipe.

Lemon Meringue Cocktail

Priscilla Willis
She’s Cookin’

Lemon Meringue Martini
A luscious lemon meringue cocktail is elegantly evocative of sun, sea, and summer. Rimmed with graham cracker it’s dessert in a glass. ©Priscilla Willis

This luscious Lemon Meringue Cocktail is the epitome of dessert in a glass. It is the most popular cocktail recipe (of many) on my website and once you taste it you’ll know why! Lemon meringue pie and citrus lovers swoon over this summery pie-in-a-glass martini. With a base of vanilla vodka, limoncello for sweet citrus, a teaspoon of egg white for a velvety mouthfeel, and a graham cracker crumb rim, you won’t want to stop at one!

• 1.5 ounce Van Gogh Vanilla vodka
• 1 ounce Limoncello di Capri
• 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon egg white

For Garnish:
• 1 graham cracker processed to a fine crumb
• Star anise lemon slice

1.  Add ice to a shaker, add vodka, limoncello, and lemon juice. Shake vigorously. Add the egg white and shake vigorously for at least a minute.
2.  Pour into a chilled martini glass, rimmed in graham cracker crumbs. If you don’t have graham crackers, a brioche cracker mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar works, too.

Recipe Notes
Adding egg white to cocktails imparts a velvety mouthfeel but very little in the way of flavor, so your drink will not taste eggy — I promise. You may want to use pasteurized eggs since the egg white is raw.

Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned

Jeanine Consoli

Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned Drink
Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned ©Jeanine Consoli

maple syrup
two types of bitters – Angostura and orange
bourbon (Jack Daniels)
Luxardo cherries and a slice of orange peel for garnish.

Add the following ingredients to a shaker with ice:
2 oz. of bourbon
3-4 dashes of bitters (two dashes of each)
1/2-1 tsp. of maple syrup

Shake and pour into a glass with ice. Add in a few Luxardo cherries and run a slice or orange peel around the rim and add to the drink.


Bel Woodhouse
The Travel Bag Guru

Maracuyito drink
Maracuyito passionfruit citrus punch cocktail. ©Bel Woodhouse

My favourite summer drink here on the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel, is called a Maracuyito. A mezcal passionfruit citrus punch cocktail served with a tajín (chilli, lime, salt) rim for the perfect blend of sweet n sour.  Light and refreshing it’s my favourite summer drink, perfect for the hot Caribbean summers. It makes your tastebuds sing with a zesty zing every time you take a sip.

I will never forget the first time it was made for me. At an organic chefs table as a part of my personalised menu. Chef Paola Torroella (who now teaches other chefs at restaurants all around the island) sat down with me to discover me likes and dislikes. Then created an exact taste palette to cook an individualised four-course meal catered specifically for me. This cocktail was heavenly! Ever since the first moment it touched my lips it has remained a favourite.

Recipe (shared by the Chef):

2 oz. Passion Fruit syrup
1 shot lemon juice
1 shot orange juice
4 oz. Passion Fruit Pulp (liquefy fresh passion fruit without water)
2 oz. of liquor of ancho reyes (chile ancho)
2 oz. Mezcal
Mineral water to complete.

Mezcal Margarita

Sharon Kurtz

Mezcal Margarita
Mezcal Margarita ©Sharon Kurtz
Sharon Kurtz in Oaxaca Mexico
Enjoying a Mezcal Margarita in Oaxaca Mexico ©Sharon Kurtz

After my adventure in Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead Celebrations, my cocktail of choice would have to be a Mezcal Margarita. If you love margaritas but are also a mezcal fan who enjoys a hint of smoke, this cocktail is for you!

The deep rich flavor makes the drink taste strong, but the alcohol level is about the same as a standard ‘rita. I love the combo of a smooth, mellow tequila, with the tartness of lime and the earthiness of mezcal.

What is the difference between tequila and mezcal? When it comes down to it, tequila is a type of mezcal, and here’s an easy way to understand the differences:
• Both are made with agave but tequila has more specific regulations
• Tequila can only be produced from Blue Weber agave (agave tequilana) mainly in the Jalisco region of Mexico
• Mezcal can be made with many more types of agave and the geographic territories are wider. When choosing mezcal look for a producer who uses traditional methods: roasting the agave hearts in a pit to impart the unique sweet and smoky flavor.

• 1 oz.  Tequila
• 1 oz. Mezcal
• 1 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
• 1 oz. Simple Syrup


Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker tin. Shake until tin goes frosty. Strain into a margarita glass. Garnish with fresh squeezed lime. Step up your game with a salt rim: wet rim of glass, put salt on a plate and dip glass into salt mixture before pouring cocktail.

The Negroni

Penny Sadler
Adventures of a Carry-on

The Negroni
The Negroni – NwongPR – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A classic Italian cocktail, de rigueur during apertivo hour in Milan, the Negroni makes a perfect summer drink for those who prefer something more bitter than sweet. Usually served as an aperitif, it is meant to stimulate your appetite and tastebuds. I’ve personally always been a fan of the Aperol spritz, which is more sweet than bitter, but when in Milan one must do as the Milanese. So, I tried a Negroni. I have to say that I think I loved it because when in Italy, everything tastes better. But, there is a complexity to the Negroni that I could not help but appreciate.

Made with one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, the Negroni is served over ice in a traditional cocktail class. It should be stirred, not shaken, and garnished with a slice of orange. The vermouth adds a bit of sweetness. Campari tastes of herbs and licorice and is bitter and dry. The gin you choose is important because it will add some structure that pulls together all those bitter herb flavors. I wonder what it would be like with an orange infused gin?

Prickly Pear Margarita

Joeann Fossland

Prickly Pear Margarita
Prickly Pear Margarita ©Joeann Fossland

2 oz. Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Prickly Pear Juice
1/2 oz. Roses Lime Juice
Half of cup of ice
Turbinado Sugar and Salt

Rub a half of a lime on the rim of a margarita glass and dip it in an equal amount of Turbinado Sugar and Salt.
Put everything else in the blender, pour and and enjoy!

Rum Hahatu Daiquiri

Tom Westerhof

Hahatu Rum Daiquiri
Hahatu Rum Daiquiri ©Tom Westerhof

The daiquiri is the perfect cocktail and my go-to drink when the weather starts to warm up. Some days, though, I wish I could enjoy it over ice and that’s where my Rum Hahatu comes in. It’s a riff on the Rum Babalu from Tommy Bahama. I like to refer to it as “my excuse to drink a daiquiri on the rocks.” Since it’s my own creation, I’ve never had it anywhere but beside my pool. It’s the house cocktail for summer, if you will, and I’ll gladly whip one up for anyone that stops by!

2 oz. Plantation 3 Stars Rum
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. demerara syrup
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Ginger beer to float

Combine rum, lime juice, demerara syrup and bitters in shaker with ice. Shake about a dozen times. Pour into glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with orange slice and pineapple leaf or whatever is handy that makes you feel tropical. Sit back and enjoy!

Summer Sangria

Jan M. Smith
Never Enough Travel

Summer Sangria
Summer Sangria featuring the Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s Woodworth Winery Black Dog wine. ©Jan M. Smith

I love this easy to make sangria for a get together on a warm summer evening. The variety of fruit adds fresh crisp flavor.

Start with a bottle of dry red wine. Add:
• One large sliced lemon
• Two medium sliced limes
• One large sliced orange
• 1 cup of small whole strawberries
• 1 1/2 cups of rum
• 1/2 cup of white sugar
• 1 cup of orange juice

This recipe is best if made ahead to allow the fruit to blend with the wine. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. Serve over ice with a slice of orange.

This is always a hit, so plan on doubling the recipe so there is enough for seconds!

Sunset Trail Margarita

Stacey Wittig

Sunset Trail Margarita
Sunset Trail Margarita ©Stacey Wittig

This innovative recipe using grenadine and grapefruit rather than lime juice is a new twist on the typical margarita. I first enjoyed this refreshing cocktail at Agoyo Lounge in Santa Fe, but I’m making it now from my quarantine kitchen.

2 ounces Partida Añejo Tequila
2 ounces Triple Sec
Fresh grapefruit juice
Grenadine float
Shake with Agave Nectar. Garnish with orange.


For more inspiration, check out the Wine and Spirits blog category archives for articles on food, wine, spirits, and travel.


Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Debbra Dunning Brouillette has always been a tropical girl. Like a fish out of water, she was born and raised in the Midwest, but from the age of seven, Florida vacations opened up her world to sun, sand and turquoise water. On her first Caribbean trip to Jamaica, a snorkeling excursion introduced her to an incredible new world that exists below the surface of the sea. The fish out of water was hooked. A scuba diver and avid photographer, she enjoys exploring the reefs and natural wonders, meeting the natives, and finding what makes each island unique. She also is a self-described “foodie” and enjoys savoring the food and wine wherever her travels take her. Her articles and photos have appeared in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Indulge, AAA Home & Away and Evansville Living magazines; online digital outlets, including JohnnyJet.com, TravelWorld, Travelscope and TravelSquire.com; as well as her own site, TropicalTravelGirl.com. She is Managing Editor for Food, Wine, Travel magazine (fwtmagazine.com) and serves on the Board of Directors for International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).