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Empire State South
Credit: Courtesy of Empire State South

Across America, happy bartenders have stashed the cloves, cinnamon, and heavy glassware of winter. They’re donning tropical shirts, breaking out blenders and slushie-makers, and swapping toddies for tiki drinks and icy fizzes.

It’s summertime, and although some things change depending on the trends—this year you’ll see more spritzes, Campari, and Mezcal—some things, like our need for things to be cold, cold, cold, stay the same.

In New Orleans, this manifests in the “f’rosé”—yes, frozen rosé—chef Kelly Fields sells at Willa Jean. In New York, giant slushie machines, the likes of which you used to only see at carnivals, are filled with piña colada mixes, tiki drinks such as the Painkiller, and other concoctions.

Though you may not own a slushie machine, there’s a whole lot you can do at home without breaking a sweat. Here are a few favorite recipes from all over our fine, thirsty nation. There’s a light, bright punch to sate a crowd—from the gent who literally wrote the book on punch—an easy margarita recipe beloved by margarita snobs, something spicy, something fruity, and something spritz-y. Drink it all in.

Afton Club Punch

“Light and refreshing but with an interesting little tang to it,” says Wondrich. This punch is easy as can be, looks gorgeous, and must be made several hours in advance of serving.

Makes 1 bowl of punch.

  • Lemon peels (from 3 lemons)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 16 oz (1 pint) Chief Gowanus New Netherland or Bols Genever Gin
  • 16 oz (1 pint) chilled German Riesling
  • ½ liter sparkling water, chilled
  • Ice (large ring or block)
  • Lemon wheels (from 1-2 lemons), to garnish

Put lemon peels and sugar in a 1-pint mason jar or similar container. Shake briefly. Seal and let sit in the sun for 3 to 4 hours. Add lemon juice, reseal jar and shake until sugar has dissolved.
Pour contents of jar into a 3-quart punch bowl. Add gin and Riesling. Stir, add large block of ice and top with chilled sparkling water. Garnish with lemon wheels.

Tommy’s Margarita

Invented at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, California.

Once upon a time, mouth-puckering triple sec was a standard addition to the classic margarita. Not so ever since a bartender in San Francisco more than two decades ago realized that agave nectar was a much better fit for agave tequila, highlighting a good tequila’s subtleties. Try it once; you’ll never go back to your old marg.

Makes 1 cocktail

2 oz 100% agave tequila
1 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz agave nectar
Salt (optional)

Shake ingredients well with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass, rimmed with salt if desired.

Más Cowbell

From Ivy Mix, Leyenda, Brooklyn, New York

Mix adores mezcal, and this drink showcases its smokiness and affinity for spices and fruit while still being light, bright, and super-quaffable.

Makes 1 cocktail

2 oz Ilegal mezcal joven
0.75 oz red bell pepper juice (from pureed, strained bell pepper)
0.5 oz lime
0.5 oz lemon
0.25 oz ginger syrup
0.25 oz agave nectar
Dash angostura
½ teaspoon turmeric
Lime wheel (optional, to garnish)
Ginger candy (optional, to garnish)
Slice of red bell pepper (optional, to garnish)

Shake all ingredients except garnishes together. Serve in a high ball over ice. Garnish with lime wheel, ginger candy, and red bell pepper.

Front Porch Fizz

Kellie Thorn, Empire State South, Atlanta

If you haven’t had watermelon in cocktail form yet, you’re missing out. When muddled with basil, sugar, gin, and lime, it reaches its Platonic ideal.

Makes 1 cocktail

Watermelon Syrup:
1 cup seeded watermelon chunks
Sugar (about ½- ¾ cup)

2 oz Ford’s gin
0.75 oz lime
0.75 oz Watermelon Syrup (see below)
2 dashes rosewater
3-5 leaves basil, for muddling (plus more, to garnish)
Dry sparkling wine

Make syrup: In blender, combine 1 cup of watermelon and 1 tablespoon of water. Strain through cheesecloth. Measure watermelon juice, and combine with an equal measurement of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Do not heat.

Make cocktail: In a mixing glass, combine gin, lime, watermelon syrup, and rosewater. Add basil, and muddle. Add ice, and shake until cold. Fine-strain into a cocktail coupe or a flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with basil.

Lov in the Afternoon

Lov Carpenter, Spiaggia, Chicago

This simple, refreshing riff on a classic summer spritz is ideal for those who like a touch of fruitiness in a spritz.

Makes 1 cocktail

1.5 oz Luli Chinato
1.5 oz sparkling rosé
1 oz club soda
Orange slice, for garnish.

Pour all ingredients into wine glass half-filled with ice. Stir briefly. Serve, garnished with an orange slice.

Alex Van Buren is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.