A few years ago, frosé burst onto the summer cocktail scene, and drinkers were instantly enamored with the new booze-filled slushie. The pink drink stayed trendy for a while, but then, last year, Aperol spritzes became the summer cocktail of choice. The refreshing drink was the hippest accessory for people spending hot days and warm nights on beaches, rooftops, and outdoor bars. Because seasonal cocktails become so iconic during the summer months, we wondered what drinks would be making waves this year as the weather warms up.
Cucumber Tom Collins
“I’m rooting for a Tom Collins comeback — specifically, the Cucumber Tom Collins, a refreshing variation on the original with the addition of muddled cucumber. It’s a cool, crisp, and simple-to-execute cocktail recipe that combines gin and fizzy lemonade. It’s easy-to-drink and perfect for warm weather.” — Maggie Dandrea, bartender at Hot Tin in New Orleans, LA
Classic summer cocktails made with local, seasonal ingredients
“The multitude of local farmers markets here in Tacoma and the surrounding area will be the basis for inspiration and experimentation in cocktail creation for the summer season. I’m betting on a return to the classics with seasonal twists. At Bar 960, we’ll be flipping the script on the classic margarita by using fresh herbs, like rosemary and basil alongside local berries, to create unique house infusions. We’ll also tackle the Mojito — a classic summer staple — by adding a minted honey syrup made with honey gathered from our own rooftop beehive and served on draft. For cool summer nights, we’ll be using Byrrh instead of sweet vermouth and garnishing our twist on a classic Manhattan with a fresh Rainier cherry.” — Jessica Chaves, manager at Bar 960 at Hotel Murano, Tacoma, WA
“There are tons of versions of the Aperol Spritz sweeping L.A. right now. Bars are doing it with all kinds of different apéritifs or digestifs, many different kinds of fruit, and soda water or even champagne. It could be oranges, berries, or cucumbers, and those bring in a sweetness. They’re becoming this crazy trend because they’re so refreshing. There’s a place called Margot in Culver City, and it has kind of a spritzer bar. It’s basically like you pick your apéritif or digestif, whether that’s Cynar or Campari or Aperol or Lillet or whatever, then you pick your fruit, and then they make you a customized spritzer from there. I think that’s really cool, and I think that’s what’s going to be really hot this summer.” — Rachel Paulson, bartender at Commerson in Los Angeles, CA
“Gin continues to dominate the spirit world, an ideal base for summer cocktails paired with an ever-growing selection of unique and flavorful liqueurs. Our Livin’ Easy cocktail combines Freeland Spirits small-batch gin with Townshend’s Distillery Sweet Tea liqueur, reminiscent of Grandma’s Secret Sweet Tea Recipe. The perfect beverage for those breezy, carefree days of summer.” — Sarah Sparks, general manager of The Driftwood Room at Hotel deLuxe in Portland, OR
“A cocktail appearing on our summer menu that I see as embodying a lot of trends is the Dutch Door (Bols Genever, Batavia Arrack, aloe, lemon, celery bitters, yellow chartreuse.) There has been a big demand for more savory (but not necessarily salty) drinks with lower sugar content. I think cocktails using more vegetal ingredients that are balanced, light, and refreshing will be big this summer.” — Ava Anderson, bartender at Hotsy Totsy Club in Albany, CA
“Just like mom jeans and scrunchies, everything comes back eventually. That’s why my vote of confidence for drink of the summer goes to the espresso martini. A drink nobody can truly be against, we’ve seen versions of it ironically find its way onto menus of the most established cocktail bars. If your bar doesn’t make them, you can’t fight it for long. The people want what the people want.” — Sally Gatza, bartender at L.A. Jackson in Nashville, TN
“I truly believe that Aquavit will make its way onto menus this summer. I think it will be crafted into approachable drinks for consumers from tiki classics like the Zombie and Junglebird. This makes for an easy introduction to how this pungent, Nordic-heritage spirit can play well with others. Dill, caraway, and fennel notes can add a depth to cocktail pairings with food. I love aquavit with vermouth and gin-based cocktails too! It can be so versatile and unique in a variety of beverages!” — Kati Fithian, bartender at Rider at Hotel Theodore in Seattle, WA
Rider’s Aquavit cocktail, The Bohemian Rhapsody:
1 1/2 oz venture 29 dry vermouth (brovo spirits)
3/4 oz olive oil-infused aquavit
3/4 fresh grapefruit juice.
1/2 Schisondra berry syrup
Shake, strain coupe, pair with 4-5 Marcona almonds