Get your drink on: Where to sip your way through the summer

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Summertime cocktails are a routine affair during warmer months. Whether nightcaps sipped slowly on wooden docks, brightly colored concoctions complimenting a boardwalk stroll or sweet libations adorned with whimsical paper umbrellas consumed by the beach, there are plenty of ways to get your drink on this summer.

Iconic dive bars, lively honky-tonks, sandy beach bars and kitschy tiki bars are the perfect backdrops for perennially popular and potent drinks that evoke the effervescence of summertime. We love a great drink and have compiled our 12 favorite cocktails to enjoy on sunny summer days and hot summer nights.

Margarita

Jimmy's Margarita
Jimmy’s Margarita (Image: Jimmy’s)

The quintessential Mexican cocktail of tequila, triple sec and lime served in a salt-rimmed glass is a thirst quencher on a hot summer day. Many bars excel at making the ubiquitous cocktail, but several standouts have put a new spin on the classic margarita. Jimmy’s, in Aspen, Colo., handcrafts a variety of agave-based spirits. Award-winning head bartender Dylan Regan mixes and pours the signature Jimmy’s Margarita with Tapatio Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and agave syrup.

The historic Nepenthe has also been serving this signature cocktail since 1949 in Big Sur, California. Made with Herradura Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice, their South Coast Margarita is ideally enjoyed on the bar’s outdoor terrace, which offers views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Lucia Mountains.

For those who prefer Mexican fare with their margaritas, honky-tonk Big Star, housed in a defunct 1940s gas station in Chicago, serves Mexican street food staples like al pastor tacos alongside a classic margarita made with Lunazul Blanco, lime and Marie Brizard Orange Curacao.

Bushwacker

Bushwacker
Bushwacker (Image: Flora-Bama Lounge and Package)

The Bushwacker, a boozy, frozen milkshake-like concoction topped with whipped cream and a cherry, is popular in the Redneck Riviera (the stretch of beaches along the Florida panhandle and Alabama shore). Originally created at the Sandshaker in Pensacola Beach, Fla., there is no “official” recipe for the drink. One of the most popular places to indulge in a Bushwacker is the family-friendly beach bar Flora-Bama Lounge and Package in Perdido Key, Fla., a legendary bar immortalized in songs by the likes of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney.

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Rum Punch

Rum Punch Da Conch Shack
Rum Punch (Image: Da Conch Shack)

Rum punch is synonymous with Caribbean beach vacations and is served in nearly every bar, hotel and restaurant in the Caribbean. However, there are a trio of terrific beach bars that excel at serving the perfect punch.

The William Thornton, a remote floating bar and restaurant that resembles a pirate ship off shore the deserted Norma Island in the British Virgin Islands, is only accessible by boat. Try their signature rum punch, Zeus Juice.

The open-air Da Conch Shack in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos has 40 different rums and a refreshing rum punch.

The lively bamboo-and-wooden Basil’s Bar, nestled on stilts in Mustiquea private island that is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, also makes a memorable rum punch.

Mai Tai

Duke's Mai Tai Duke’s Canoe Club
Duke’s Mai Tai (Image: Duke’s Canoe Club)

Nothing evokes a tropical vacation more than a tiki bar. Known for cool, colorful, sweet and fruity concoctions, tiki bars serve up some sublime drinks, including the Mai Tai, a mixture of rums, fruit juices and ice. Hawaii is one of the best places to try the popular drink during pau hana (happy hour).

Honolulu‘s Duke’s Canoe Club’s signature drink is the Duke’s Mai Tai, a blend of tropical fruit juices and two types of rum.

Another Honolulu hot spot, the open-air Mai Tai Bar, serves its eponymous Mai Tai with Bacardi Gold Rum, Myers’s Dark Rum, Kraken Black Spiced Rum and fresh squeezed orange and pineapple juices. But Hawaii isn’t the only place with great Mai Tais.

San Francisco’s Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, the oldest continuously running tiki bar in the U.S., serves a fantastic Mai Tai, with a blend of rums from Trinidad and Jamaica, Curacao, local handmade orgeat syrup and fresh lime juice.

Bloody Mary

Indigo Mumbai
Mixing it up at Indigo (Image: Indigo)

The savory Brunch staple, typically made with vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, is a refreshing start to a summer day. There is no better place to sip a Bloody Mary than the bar that likely invented the Bloody Mary, Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. This legendary bar has attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart, who enjoyed the handcrafted cocktails.

Around the world, there are plenty of places to enjoy a blissful Bloody Mary, from Mumbai eatery Indigo, which serves the Indigo Mary, a twist on the classic made with a hint of tamarind and cumin; to historic London pub The Grenadier, whose sole cocktail is the Bloody Mary.

The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C., a favorite of U.S. presidents since 1856, is where The Bloody Maryland serves as the bar’s take on the classic with the addition of a jumbo shrimp and a glass rimmed with OLD BAY Seasoning. Yum!

Long Island Iced Tea

It might look and taste like iced tea, but there isn’t a drop of tea in this strong drink made with tequila, vodka, light rum, triple sec and gin. A popular summertime choice, the Long Island Iced Tea is a cocktail menu staple at bars around the world, including the Black Pearl Bar in Melbourne, Australia and The Bar at Hôtel Costes, a lavish Paris hotel bar frequented by celebrities.

Daiquiri

La Floridita
The original Daiquiri (Image: Mike Fleming, Cuba via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

The citrusy Daiquiri was invented by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, who took ownership of Havana’s El Floridita bar in 1918 (the bar opened in 1817). The drink was a favorite of Hemingway, who is said to have written the draft of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and consumed countless Daiquiris there. The menu features several variations, including the Floridita Daiquiri, a blend of Havana Club rum, lemon juice, white sugar, ice and maraschino; and the Papa Hemingway, a blend of Havana Club Rum, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, ice and maraschino.

Pimms Cup

It wouldn’t be summer in Great Britain without a refreshing Pimms Cup – a gin and lemonade drink served at many neighborhood pubs. Here in the United States, the classic cocktail is a trendy choice in New Orleans bars. Napoleon House Bar & Cafe serves its signature Pimms Cup made with Pimms No. 1, lemonade, 7-Up and garnished with a cucumber, and the Carousel Bar serves its Pimms Cup No. 1 with Pimms No. 1, strawberry, cucumber, lemon juice and simple syrup along with a ride on its 24-seat carousel bar.

Painkiller

It was on the long stretch of white sand beach in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke in the U.S. Virgin Islands where the Painkiller cocktail was invented by bar owner Daphne Henderson at the swim-up Soggy Dollar Bar. Often duplicated, but never exactly replicated, the proportions of the drink’s dark rum, crème de coconut, pineapple and orange juices with a garnish of freshly grated Grenadian nutmeg are a closely guarded secret. Admirers of the tropical drink, like Charles Tobias of the Robb White Bar at Pusser’s in Marina Cay, British Virgin Islands, have tried to recreate it using Pusser’s rum, pineapple juice,crème de coconut and orange juice.

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour (Image: John Sawicki)

It’s hard to visit Peru without trying a Pisco Sour, a mixture of Pisco (a brandy made of pomace, the solid leftovers of grapes), lime juice, ice, egg whites and garnished with Angostura bitters. Chef Gastón Acurio’s café Tanta, with locations in Peru and Chicago, serves a variety of Pisco-based cocktails, including perfectly made Pisco Sours. Both Peru and Argentina claim to have invented the sweet, citrus drink. In Argentina, the drink is served sans egg white at bars like Florería Atlántico, a speakeasy located under a flower shop in Buenos Aires.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Lynchburg Lemonade, the ode to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey,  is a long drink of whiskey, triple sec, sour mix and lemon-lime soda. While named for the Tennessee town that is home to the distillery, globetrotters can enjoy a Lynchburg Lemonade throughout the world.  A satisfying thirst quencher on a hot and humid day, try this tangy treat at The Bar in Budapest, Hungary where the drink is made with Jack Daniels, Cointreau, lemon and Sprite.

Bellini

Nothing beats a Bellini on a hot summer day! One-part white peach purée and three-parts Prosecco, the quintessential place to indulge in a Bellini is its birthplace, Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles once enjoyed the atmosphere and cocktails. Additional spots in Italy to imbibe in this refreshing libation are Harry’s Bar in Florence, Italy and the Hassler Bar at the top of Rome‘s Spanish Steps.

Main Image: istockphoto/StudioThreeDots

Get your drink on: Where to sip your way through the summer was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (163 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.