10+ Refreshing, Summer Cocktails to Make at Home

From light and bubbly to smooth and fruity, these boozy recipes are perfect to enjoy on the patio or by the pool. 
by Hannah Kaufman

From Bloody Marys to Pineapple Margaritas, these recipes collected from your favorite bars, eateries, chefs and Raleigh locals are sure to add a sweet zing to your summer days. Each drink has been meticulously crafted and thoroughly curated through years of long standing family traditions and professional bartending to cater to your taste buds. Here are 14 delicious drinks for you to try at home. 

Tazza’s Honeydew Mint Shrub

Thoughtfully walking the line between tart and sweet, this drink from Tazza Kitchen, featured in the September 2017 issue, will have your mouth watering and glass empty in no time. As inviting as the restaurant itself, this cocktail utilizes adventurous ingredients like honeydew and vinegar that are perfect for a happy hour outside in the summer heat.

Honeydew Mint Shrub Ingredients
1 whole honeydew
1 cup mint leaves
4 cups white sugar
4 cups cold water
1 ½ cups white balsamic vinegar

Directions Remove the honeydew rind and cut fruit into small chunks. Puree the honeydew and mint in a food processor or blender, then pour into a pot. Add the water and sugar, and heat the pot on the stove over low heat. Remove from heat, strain with a fine mesh strainer and add the vinegar.

Sig Hutchinson’s Triple Secret Bloody Mary

In the May 2021 issue, Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson shared one of his favorite family traditions: the post-bike ride Bloody Mary. With ingredients ranging from olives to celery, you can get your fruits and veggies in, too!

Bloody Mary Ingredients
1 to 2 shots vodka
6 ounces Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Gourmet Village Rim Trim
Dash of Lea & Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce
Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce Limes
Celery Sticks
Celery Salt

Directions Prepare the glasses: circle the tops with lime juice and dip into a saucer of rim trim, then knock off excess. Fill glasses with ice and add a celery stick, with leaves sticking out at the top. Set aside. Fill a shaker with ice and add vodka, Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire Sauce, 1⁄4 of a squeezed lime, and hot sauce to taste (“optional, but not really,” Hutchinson says). Shake or stir into glasses and add a touch of celery salt to the top. Garnish with two olives on a toothpick and a thin wedge of lime.

William & Company’s Watermelon Basil Mezcal

Featured in our September 2020 edition, this sweet summery drink from Lilly Balance of William & Company on Person Street is infused with mezcal for extra spice — as delightful to the mouth as it is to the eyes.

Watermelon Basil Mezcal Ingredients
2 ounces mezcal
2 ounces watermelon juice agua fresca (pureed watermelon)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3 to 4 basil leaves
Pieces of watermelon
Tajín or a mix of chili powder and sugar

Directions Dip a glass in water, then in the Tajín to rim it. Shake all remaining ingredients and strain over ice and garnish with basil and a watermelon slice.

William & Company’s Spicy Paloma

Although temperatures may soar, this smoky drink shared in September 2020 will bring even more heat to the summer with a blend of hot peppers, mezcal, and tajín. “The work that goes into making mezcal is an art that can easily be lost,” said Lily Ballance, a bar-owner and mixologist from Mexico City who has used her heritage as inspiration for her notably innovative cocktails.

Spicy Paloma Ingredients
1/2 ounce of spicy tequila (recipe below)
1 1/2 ounce of mezcal
2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce agave
Tajín or a mix of chili powder and
Grapefruit rind

Directions Dip a clay cup in water, then in the Tajín to rim it. Shake all remaining ingredients, then strain over ice into the clay cup. Garnish with grapefruit rind.

Spicy Tequila Ingredients
Blanco tequila
Hot peppers (jalapeño or whatever you have on hand)

Spicy Tequila Directions Let the peppers soak in tequila for a while—the more peppers and the longer you steep, the more heat in your drink.

STIR’s Harvest Moon Sangria

From the vineyard to your local strawberry patch, this cocktail from July 2020, served at STIR, blends all the sweetest parts of late spring with its unique mix of lemon juice, wine, vodka, strawberries and maraschino cherries for a refreshing twist on sangria.

Harvest Moon Ingredients
4 ounces cabernet sauvignon
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Dash rose water
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur
1 ounce macerated strawberries
1/2 ounce vodka
Splash soda water
Lemon wheel and strawberry, for garnish

Directions To macerate the strawberries: Place berries in a container and sprinkle generously with sugar. Alternatively, soak the berries in vodka. Puree or muddle the berries to release their juices, then combine with the remaining ingredients in a shaker. Top with ice. Stir and shake. For a sangria free of fruit pulp, strain. Pour over ice, then add a splash of soda water. Garnish with lemon wheel and strawberry.

Lola’s Jamaican Rum Punch

Another drink that invokes a tropical vacation, Lola’s Beach Bar owner Larry Carter did just that for this May 2019 recipe, a polished product of his research trip to Jamaica to find the perfect combination for his punch. 

Jamaican Run Punch Ingredients
Fill shaker with:
1 1/2 oz rum
1 1/2 oz coconut milk
Pineapple juice
Orange juice
Splash of grenadine

Directions Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with citrus.

Mandolin’s Mint Julep

Mint Juleps shouldn’t be reserved for just the Kentucky Derby. From our May 2013 issue, this classic recipe consisting of spearmint leaves, bourbon and sugar will leave you satisfied — with the added bonus of fresh breath. It’s a great way to use mint from your garden which can grow wild this time of year.

Mint Julep Ingredients
10 to 12 spearmint leaves
2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 ½ teaspoons raw turbinado sugar
crushed ice

Directions In a julep cup, gently muddle the mint leaves with a little bit of ice. Add in the sugar and a splash of bourbon, continuing to lightly muddle until the sugar has dissolved and married into a mash with the mint. Next fill the julep cup (a little less than full) with ice, and add the rest of the bourbon; stir for 30 to 45 seconds until frosted. Top off with ice, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Honey Girl’s Blueberry Mint Prosecco 

Made with a bottle of Honeygirl Meadery Blueberry Mead, this niche drink from March 2021 is a clever concoction utilizing two types of buzzes, the bees and the booze! Mead, while emerging as the next crack-cocktail beverage, is new to some and this is the perfect entry-way point to experience the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. 

Blueberry Mint Prosecco Ingredients
1 bottle prosecco
1 bottle Honeygirl Blueberry Mead
1 teaspoon sugar
Handful of mint leaves
Handful of fresh blueberries

Directions In a punch bowl or large pitcher, muddle blueberries, sugar, and mint leaves together (reserve a few blueberries and leaves for garnish). Pour prosecco over the ingredients. Fill a champagne flute halfway with Blueberry Mead, then top with the prosecco mixture. Garnish with blueberries and a mint leaf.

Bittersweet’s Aviation

Made from the entrancing infusion of fresh-picked violets into gin to form a beautiful shade of pale purple, Bittersweet’s take on the classic Aviation “is both a drink and a show,” according to our June 2020 issue. Crafted with Botanist Gin, Luxardo, crème de violette and fresh-picked flowers, Bittersweet’s Aviation is a smooth take off and a perfect landing.  

Bittersweet’s Aviation Ingredients
2 ounces Botanist Gin
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce Luxardo or other maraschino cherry liqueur
2 bar spoonfuls of crème de violette

Directions Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Optional: garnish with fresh edible violets.

Tiki Old Fashioned from The Cortez

This recipe from February 2018 mixes brandy, bitters, orange slices, brandied cherries, and mint to give your tastebuds a tiki-themed adventure. But worry not, the soothing taste of The Cortez’s Old Fashioned will keep your summer feeling anything but bittersweet. 

Old Fashioned Ingredients
2 ounces Copper & Kings American brandy
¼ ounce Falernum syrup
3 dashes bitters
½ orange slice
Brandied cherry
Splash of soda water
Mint, for garnish

Directions Add bitters, orange, and brandied cherry to cocktail shaker and muddle. Add brandy and Falernum and shake with ice. Strain over crushed ice in a tulip glass. Add splash of soda, and garnish with mint and an orange twist.

Little City Brewery’s Rosemary Me

Remember to stop and smell the roses this summer with Little City Brewery’s Rosemary Me. With honeysuckle vodka and a splash of rosemary syrup, this earthy drink from our November 2017 issue is as refreshing as a nature walk and delectable as a garden.

Rosemary Me Ingredients:
1½ ounces Cathead honeysuckle vodka
¾ ounce rosemary simple syrup
½ ounce lemon juice
Prosecco, to taste
Rosemary simple syrup:
About 6 sprigs rosemary
½ cup hot water
½ cup white sugar

Directions Make rosemary simple syrup: Soak rosemary in ¼ cup of the hot water and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove rosemary and add the remaining ¼ cup of hot water. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Mix the cocktail: Add vodka, rosemary simple syrup, and lemon to a cocktail shaker. Shake well, strain into a coupe glass, and top with prosecco to taste.

C.Grace’s Strawberry Daisy

What’s better than a drink that you can both sip and chew? From cocktails to candied strawberries, this two-in-one recipe shared by Kyle Erkes, beverage director at C. Grace, in April of 2020, makes a tasty drink one day and a delicious snack the next.

Strawberry Daisy Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces Conniption Navy Strength Gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Strawberry Syrup (recipe below) 

Directions Shake 1 1/2 ounces Conniption Navy Strength Gin, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/2 ounce Strawberry Syrup (recipe below) with ice; strain into a cocktail glass. Optional: Garnish with candied strawberries. Strawberry Syrup Recipe: Chop a few strawberries, throw them in a jar, and cover them completely with sugar. Give the jar a shake and put it in the fridge overnight. No need to measure anything, the sugar will pull juice from the strawberries, and excess sugar will settle to the bottom. Just strain out the liquid. Keep refrigerated and add it to literally anything.