When it comes to summer cocktails, there are usually a few ingredients you will find in most drinks: citrus, strawberries, rosemary, and mint; and for alcohol, there is prosecco, rum, tequila, and gin. Of course, always add ice, whether it’s cubed, crushed, or slushed.

As people are starting to attempt a summer they felt like they lost in 2020 because of pandemic lockdown, many are brushing off their summer cocktail recipe cards so they can share drinks with friends (instead of taking shots straight from a bottle while watching the seventh episode of a Netflix show in one night, alone, in the dark). There may even be a real cocktail glass involved instead of a series of disposable plastic cups wrapped in 3 feet of cellophane attached to a depressing to-go order.

We are doing our own summer dusting and found a few popular drinks to beat the heat for summer 2021, provided by influencers who know their stuff. 


Prosecco-Based Cocktails

Did you know that National Prosecco Week is from July 19 to 25 this year? There are even a series of campaigns provided for influencers and retailers to promote this popular sparkling beverage. 

As the spritzer is always a summer favorite–and it isn’t a spritzer without something bubbly–Prosecco seems to be the beverage of choice because it has a cleaner finish and mixes well with various ingredients. 

The Australian Spritzer, provided by Australian restaurateur and influencer Cam Northway, provides all the summer basics in this cocktail: prosecco, gin, lime, and rosemary. Australia’s beaches and warmer climates all year are a great inspiration for tugging at the summer-time heartstrings and the longing for sunlight.  

The Aperol Spritz cocktail has been making the rounds as a popular drink for the last couple of summers, but with growing heatwaves (and the need to shake off pandemic blues), it has been a main contender for 2021 as well. Aperol’s 2021 summer campaign #TogetherWeJoy successfully embraces summer flavors and the desire for people to finally get back together. These drinks are popular iced or slushed, and Prosecco is most definitely on the menu. 


Rum-Based Cocktails

Rum has always had a tropical beach vibe, and this summer is no different from any other, but there are many ways to create new and interesting drinks with rum with clean, fresh ingredients.

The Island Fresca is about as simple as it gets, but comes with fresh ingredients and little effort: coconut water, a splash of rum, and maybe even a squeeze of lime if you want to get the “lime in the coconut” song stuck in your head for a week. There is nothing more refreshing than a cocktail with an earworm attached.    

If you like traditional drinks with a fun summer twist, the Treacle is a play on the Old Fashioned (usually a drink for the cooler months), but with the lighter flavors of rum and apple juice mixed with the traditional citrus flavors of orange peels and angostura bitters.

Speaking of tradition, after the recent Ernest Hemingway documentary, the Hemingway Daiquiri came back into fashion. It was even mentioned in a Forbes 2021 cocktails article as the “Not Made for Defeat,” which pretty much summed up surviving 2020. An interesting history comes with this drink, which makes for an authentic experience, learning of a writer’s life in Cuba in all of its sadness and glory.


Gin-Based Cocktails

Gin provides cocktails that are always refreshing, and it is a spirit that can be used all year long. But paired with summer heat and seasonal ingredients, gin cocktails can encapsulate a summer vacation or a warm evening on the porch while you watch fireflies twinkle. 

The Gin Basil Smash is a new creation (created in 2008) that riffs off the Whiskey Smash, gaining considerable momentum in the last few years. Listed as an influencer 2021 “best of” summer cocktail, the drink consists of gin, basil, lemon juice, and simple syrup. The mix of botanicals, citrus, and peppery basil, is a great combination for a summer drink. 

If you are looking for a little summer sophistication (and a throwback to Breakfast at Tiffany’s), the Gibson Martini is a good choice that makes most cocktail lists for most seasons. With gin, dry vermouth, and cocktail onions, you can drink this one ice-cold (shaken or stirred). If you’re feeling adventurous, make it dirty with the cocktail onion brine.

Maybe you want to feel like you are sitting somewhere on the French Riviera (even if you are simply soaking your feet in your stock-tank pool in the backyard). The French 75 (though named after French artillery) is a sophisticated mix of sparkling wine (or champagne), gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice. The combination is refreshing and potent and turns out to be a celebrity favorite at Oscar parties, according to Regis St. Louis, blogger, food enthusiast, and world traveler.


Tequila-Based Cocktails

We recently talked about how celebrities and tequila are making quite the pair these days, and there are plenty of summer cocktails that use this spirit. And though a margarita is always a great summer classic, there is more to tequila than lime juice and a salt rim. 

There is nothing better than a drink with basil, jalapenos, and agave nectar, and the Tanteo Puerto Vallarta Smash has it all (and habanero tequila). The sweet with spicy offers great contrast and provides a little welcome heat – just make sure you take out the jalapeno seeds!

And the real drink of Mexico is the Paloma, so move over Margarita. It has the right combination of sweetness and acidity and a little bitterness from the pink grapefruit. It’s a simple drink with many flavors, so it can hold its own with spicier foods. Also, if you ever wanted a drink to look like a Mexican sunset, this is the drink for you. 


In Closing

What makes a great cocktail is not just in the ingredients but in the stories behind them and the feelings we get when we associate a favorite drink with a favorite time, person, movie, book, or place. As we slowly come out of darker days, we embrace those experiences even more. So pick an experience, pick a story, and create a new experience of your own as you sip on one of your favorites this summer. They also make for great Instagram pics too.

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