this summer it’s time to ditch the canned cocktails from the grocery store and make your own libations to drink outside.
Of course, ready-made drinks have their place – and yes, they are handy – but pre-batching a cocktail with fresh ingredients and sharing it with friends in the garden or at a picnic in the park is a good flex that will never go unnoticed. . It’s the alcoholic equivalent of cooking someone dinner instead of relying on a takeaway.
As the days get longer and warmer, and the weekends get saturated with outdoor gatherings of all kinds, dust off the old cocktail shaker — or mason jar for the lo-fi at-home bartenders — and mix up a batch of fresh cocktails for everyone to share.
To kickstart your summer of mixology, here are five crowd-pleasing cocktail recipes that travel well and are perfect for sipping this summer. From rum punches that can be infinitely adjusted, to other drinkable classics like the tequila-laced Paloma, all recipes are adapted for outdoor drinking and are single-serving. To make a large batch, simply multiply the recipes by the number of drinks you want to prepare. On to the summer evenings.
Punch, the cocktail’s ancestor, may have originated in India and made its way around the world thanks to the East India Company in the 17th and 18th centuries, but the drink really came into its own when it hit the Caribbean. ended up and was immediately spiked with rum.
In Barbados, where punch was referred to as far back as 1694, the drink follows a rhyming formula that reads: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak (and a touch of spice to make it tasty). It’s a bare-bones template open to interpretation, but guaranteed to deliver a tropical blend of deliciousness suitable for drinking everywhere from the garden to the beach.
There are few boundaries to navigate when making your own rum punch as long as you have rum, sugar, citrus, water (ice) and spices, so embrace your inner mixologist and get creative. The recipe below can be manipulated to showcase seasonal or regional ingredients, such as swapping funky Jamaican rum with a Barbadian rum, or ditching the demerara syrup for a hibiscus (AKA sorrel) sweetener, or even grenadine. Make a big batch for your next picnic, combine the drinks with some Caribbean tunes and let the rumrhapsody transport you.
- 60 ml Jamaican rum
- 30 ml lime juice
- 20 ml demerara syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
- 10 ml chili pepper or pimento dram
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Splash of soda water
Add all ingredients to a glass jar with ice, close the lid and shake vigorously. Pour the shaken drink into another cup or highball glass with ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and some nutmeg if you’re excited.
Where’s the best place to try it: Limin’ Beach Club, Gabriel’s Wharf, SE1, limin.co.uk
East 8 Hold Up
If the Pornstar Martini became tiki, it would be the East 8 Hold Up. Like the iconic London-born classic, the sunset-tinged East 8 is also made with vodka, passion fruit and lime juice, but that’s where the two drinks part ways. The East 8 Hold Up also gets a bittersweet dose of Aperol, tropical pineapple juice, and some simple syrup to balance. It’s summer in a glass.
For London barflies and bartenders, this cocktail has become somewhat of a cult favorite in recent years, as it was created in 2006 by Kevin Armstrong, the current owner of Satan’s Whiskers in Bethnal Green, for the now-closed Milk & Honey London, a then groundbreaking cocktail bar. Some imbibers might be hesitant to call it a modern classic as it hasn’t quite caught on outside of the UK just yet, but it’s arguably the most popular vodka sour since the Cosmopolitan – Carrie Bradshaw just hasn’t let his praise sing (yet!) .
If you’re adventurous and want to put your own spin on it, it’s best to keep it simple. Tequila could be a suitable base in place of vodka, and another tropical syrup, such as guava or mango, could replace the sour passion fruit, but we don’t think this cocktail should be tinkered with too much. Besides, it’s really Armstrong’s signature “dash of pash” (ie passion fruit) that makes this cocktail the gorgeous slurper it is. Our advice: take a lot of it with you to the party, because it won’t last long.
- 45 ml vodka
- 20 ml pineapple juice
- 15ml Aperol
- 15 ml simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
- 15 ml lime juice
- 1 bar spoon of passion fruit syrup (preferably Monin; or, to make your own, mix a passion fruit puree in a 1:1 ratio with simple syrup and bottle. Refrigerate and store up to 10 days)
Add all ingredients to a glass jar with ice, close the lid and shake vigorously. Pour the shaken drink into another cup or rocks glass, top with fresh ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
Where’s the best place to try it: Satan’s Whiskers, 343 Cambridge Heath Road, E2, satanswhiskers.com
Based on the margarita’s worldwide popularity, you might think that the beloved tequila daisy is completely dominant in Mexico, the motherland of agave spirits. But that’s not quite the case. There, the Paloma is one of the most popular cocktails – a refreshing blend of tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda.
Many contemporary bartenders prefer to also add some fresh grapefruit juice to the existing recipe to really bring home the fresh citrus character of the cocktail. To put your own spin on it, a dash of Campari adds a bittersweet depth and transforms the drink into a vibrant reddish pink, while swapping mezcal for tequila is doable if you prefer the earthy agave spirit. With these easy customization options, a DIY Paloma bar with all the ingredients in place is a fun way to engage guests when hosting at home; but a pitcher of the classic will do too.
- 50 ml tequila
- 20 ml grapefruit juice
- 15 ml lime juice
- Agave syrup or nectar to taste (start at 10ml, but volume depends on the sweetness of grapefruit soda)
- Grapefruit soda, up
Add all ingredients to a glass jar with ice, close the lid and shake vigorously. Pour the shaken drink into another cup or highball glass, finish with fresh ice, then grapefruit soda and garnish with half a grapefruit slice. If you’re particularly short on time, stop shaking and simply build all the ingredients into a cup or highball glass with ice.
Where’s the best place to try it: Side Hustle at The Nomad Hotel, 28 Bow Street, WC2, thenomadhotel.com
or, as above,
For a man known for drinking martinis like water, champagne in the morning with his eggs, and whiskey when the going gets tough, it may come as a surprise to some that the very first drink James Bond orders in 1953 Casino Royale, is an American. Not a glass of Bollinger, nor Taittinger, but an appetizing mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water.
It’s a drink considered to be the forerunner of its boozier, more fashionable cousin, the Negroni, but it hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, despite being around longer. Nevertheless, the Americano is a perfect cocktail for indulging in the heat, given its low ABV, and makes an excellent accompaniment to small bites. To put your own spin on Americano, swap Campari for another bitter aperitif, such as the Venetian Select aperitivo or Sipello, a handcrafted British aperitif that is taking the London cocktail scene by storm. It’s a drink perfect for session drinking, and it’s the next step for the passionate Negroni drinker.
- 40 ml Campari
- 40 ml sweet vermouth
- Mineral or soda water, up
Build up all ingredients in a cup or highball glass with ice and garnish with half an orange slice.
Where’s the best place to try it: Swift Soho, 12 Old Compton Street, W1, barshift.com
While the French 75 as we know it first appeared in print in 1927 in a New York humor magazine, it only became popular in 1930 when it was published in the Savoy Cocktail Book. After being backed by The Savoy, it was a near-instant classic.
The French 75 is a sophisticated cocktail that can be served in a variety of ways, but its simplicity and versatility make it ideal for outdoor drinking. The recipe is a perfect balance of gin, or brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne – it’s bubbly enough to lift your spirits and witty enough to put you down after a lot of it. Make it seasonal by replacing the simple syrup with your own herbaceous syrup — rosemary is a favorite of ours — and garnish accordingly.
- 40 ml gin or cognac
- 20 ml lemon juice
- 20 ml simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
- Sparkling wine (preferably champagne), as a top
Add the spirit, lemon juice and simple syrup to a glass jar with ice and shake. Strain into another cup or glass — with or without ice — and garnish with sparkling wine when it’s time to drink.
Where’s the best place to try it: American bar at The Savoy Hotel, Beach, WC2, thesavoylondon.com