The long, warm days of summer have arrived. There’s no better way to spend them than sipping your favorite beverage with friends, outdoors. As for me, I always love a refreshing seasonal cocktail.

Summertime brings an abundance of fresh fruits and herbs that can be mixed into all sorts of flavorful craft cocktails.

It’s fun to experiment – whether infusing your libation of choice* with an herb or creating interesting simple syrups, be creative! Try some of these paired flavors and you’re on your way to becoming an amateur mixologist.

  • Cantaloupe and mint leaves
  • Pear and ginger root
  • Honeydew and thyme or basil
  • Meyers Lemon and just about most herbs: basil, rosemary or mint
  • Mandarin orange and tarragon
  • Cucumber and cilantro

Cocktails to Sip On

All of the following cocktails are made as martinis. However, they can be served over ice, too. And of course, you can “spice” them up a bit more with a heavier hand on the alcohol.

If you’re serving martinis, start with a shaker filled with ice. Once all the ingredients are added, shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds, and then pour into a chilled martini glass.

Uncle Paul’s Ginger Martini

My brother-in-law introduced me to this years ago and it’s always a big hit. In a shaker filled with ice mix:

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces ginger simple syrup**
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice

Serve with a slice of lime.

Grapefruit and Elderflower Martini

I stole the recipe for this martini from one of my favorite restaurants, and then kicked it up a bit. I added elderflower liquor to cut the acid and enhance the flavor. It’s so good that it’s become my “signature” go-to cocktail. In a shaker filled with ice mix:

  • 3 ounces vodka (I prefer Absolute Citron)
  • 3 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (strain the pulp)
  • 1 ounce plain simple syrup**
  • ½ ounce St. Germaine Elderflower Liquor
  • ½ ounce of fresh Meyers lemon juice

Satsuma Special

Satsuma mandarins have a mellower flavor than your basic orange, but any mandarin or tangerine will do. In a shaker filled with ice mix:

  • 3 ounces vodka (plain vodka or Absolute Mandarin)
  • 3 ounces freshly squeezed satsuma juice (strained of pulp)
  • 1 ounce tarragon simple syrup**
  • Splash of fresh squeezed lime

Mint and Cantaloupe Concoction

You can substitute basil for the mint. In a shaker filled with ice mix:

  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 2 cups ripe cantaloupe, cut into chunks and pureed
  • 1 ounce mint simple syrup
  • Splash of fresh squeezed lime or lemon

Serve with a sprig of mint.

Infused Vodka or Gin

Simply muddle about a ½ cup of the herb of choice, pour 2 cups vodka or gin over the herbs and seal in a mason jar. Let it sit for a couple of day, then strain.

Simple Syrups

To prepare a syrup, in a sauce pan, bring one cup water and one cup sugar to a boil. Simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it stand until it’s room temperature.

If you’re making a flavored syrup, add in a heaping amount of the herb. I find you can’t put in too much. For example, about 20 basil leaves or ½ pound grated ginger work great.

Seal and refrigerate for a couple of days. Strain and use. Any leftover syrup can be frozen for several months.

Do you have a favorite summer cocktail that you love to prepare for your friends? Please share some of your favorites below!

Stacey DehmerStacey Dehmer retired from a long career in marketing communications when her husband’s job took the family to Bangkok, Thailand. While there, she was an editor and frequent contributor to their expat community’s local newsletter. She loves to write, read, cook, hike, bike and especially spend time with her family.

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