11 Cocktails to Serve This Summer!

Though there certainly aren’t any cocktails out there that should be actively avoided during the summer (though I’m on the wagon these days so I’m avoiding them all), you’re probably less likely to want to stretch out on a lounge chair at to the pool delicately sipping on a hot buttered rum.
So here come ten cocktails that tie in beautifully with the summer season. Some are sweet, some are fizzy, some contain amazing liqueurs you should be familiar with, and some will just look damn good in your hand as the sun sets over your balcony every night between now and September. Happy summer, everyone!

Cuba is the birthplace of the Mojito, although the exact origin of this classic cocktail is the subject of debate. One story traces the Mojito to a similar 19th century drink known as “El Draque”, after Francis Drake. It was made initially with tafia/aguardiente, a primitive predecessor of rum, but rum was used as soon as it became widely available to the British (ca. 1650). Mint, lime and sugar were also helpful in hiding the harsh taste of this spirit. While this drink was not called a Mojito at this time, it was still the original combination of these ingredients.

Some historians contend that African slaves who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century were instrumental in the cocktail’s origin. Guarapo, the sugar cane juice often used in Mojitos, was a popular drink amongst the slaves who helped coin the name of the sweet nectar.

The Mojito

  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

The Manhattan is one of the few cocktails that never seems to go out of style.  As a boy, I remember them being enjoyed by my parents and their friends. And as an adult they are regularly ordered at the bars by my own contemporaries.

“Contemporaries” is my fancy way of referring to Laura and Sean: my hag and my mentor.

Laura and Sean were the ones who ordered me my very first Manhattan a few years back at Martuni’s, a slender tavern and piano bar wrapped around the corner of Valencia and Market Streets in San Francisco.  I first found the Manhattan’s sweetness slightly off-putting, but was eventually won over by it’s smooth finish and gentle kick.

The Classic Manhattan

1 1/2 to 2 ounces quality bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry or lemon twist (or in my case, both)

Add bourbon, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice.  Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.  Strain into a martini glass and garnish appropriately.

Next: The Moscow Mule

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Ten Cocktails to Serve Before Labor Day


Though there certainly aren’t any cocktails out there that should be actively avoided during the summer, you’re probably less likely to want to stretch out on a lounge chair next to the pool sipping on a hot buttered rum.

So here come ten cocktails that tie in beautifully with the season. Some are sweet, some are fizzy, some contain some amazing liqueurs you should be familiar with, and some will just look damn good in your hand as the sun sets over your balcony every night between now and September.

The Manhattan is one of the few cocktails that never seems to go out of style.  As a boy, I remember them being enjoyed by my parents and their friends. And as an adult they are regularly ordered at the bars by my own contemporaries.

“Contemporaries” is my fancy way of referring to Laura and Sean: my hag and my mentor.

Laura and Sean were the ones who ordered me my very first Manhattan a few years back at Martuni’s, a slender tavern and piano bar wrapped around the corner of Valencia and Market Streets in San Francisco.  I first found the Manhattan’s sweetness slightly off-putting, but was eventually won over by it’s smooth finish and gentle kick.

The Classic Manhattan

1 1/2 to 2 ounces quality bourbon
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry or lemon twist (or in my case, both)

Add bourbon, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass filled with ice.  Stir vigorously for 30 seconds.  Strain into a martini glass and garnish appropriately.

Next: The Moscow Mule
Continue Reading

The Horse’s Neck


The Horse’s Neck is named specifically for its garnish, the long citrus spirals which are laid in the glass to represent a “neck” hanging over the edge. Supposedly, when placed properly, it looks as if a horse is sticking its neck out of your cocktail.

For certain, a Horse’s Neck is THE drink to be relaxing with while watching any of the three Rock Hudson-Doris Day “battle of the sexes” flicks from the 1960s, but none more so than Lover Come Back which features Day and Hudson as rival Madison Avenue advertising execs. And if I am ever lucky enough to be reincarnated as a 1960s Madison Avenue advertising exec, this is the drink I will use to liquor up my potential clients, flatter the hell out of the boss, and celebrate landing the big new panty hose account the whole town’s been buzzing about. Hopefully, I’ll be doing it at a bar called Floyd’s or Charlie’s with crushed red velvet walls and an organ version of “The Girl from Ipanema” lingering in the background.

Yeah, that is definitely the way I’ll go.

Bourbon is very much a “mom and dad” drink in my head, and my mom and dad never even drank it. Thank television. How many times did Darren’s boss from Bewitched swallow down a bourbon after seeing a pink pony magically appear before his eyes only to watch it vanish moments later, signaling the cue for bourbon number two, “and make it a double, Louise!” So in my head, bourbon is and always will be what grown-ups drink when they socialize.

Now that I think of it, Darren on Bewtiched was a 1960s advertising exec as well. Based on my apparent obsession with the era and the profession, you’d think I’d be a bigger fan of Mad Men, but it just ain’t so. I downloaded the first season from iTunes, and got through about six episodes. Not bad, but it just didn’t grab me. I’d watch it with the sound off any day, though. Those suits! That furniture! Pregnant women somking! Kids wrapping their faces up in plastic dry cleaning bags! Good times!

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