Summer is here. And when it comes to cocktails, tastes tend to veer toward the lighter side. Fresh fruits and light spirits like white rum and vodka step in for heavier spices and richer barrel-aged liquors. Mixologists know the drill. Greg Best, of Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, likes to start with fresh mint and basil, bright citrus fruits and local honey. Jim Meehan, of New York’s PDT, switches from brown spirits to white. Everyone, it seems, loves a good lime.
“The biggest difference in my summertime cocktail-making is that my drinks are always easy to make,” says mixologist Alex Day, of New York’s Demi Monde. “I like to enjoy the weather, not toil away in a kitchen prepping for hours. Put it together quickly, make it delicious and enjoy the sunshine and good company.”
Thankfully, a summer’s worth of mediocre margaritas needn’t be the norm. For a Caribbean twist, try a Wray & Ting—a Jamaican classic made with rum and grapefruit soda—from Martin Cate at Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco. Those looking to incorporate fresh produce will appreciate the entry from Tommy Klus of Portland’s Kask, a recipe that combines aged cachaça with fresh Oregon strawberries and ginger beer. Brittini Rae at Ink in Los Angeles offers a recipe for a jalapeño-infused tequila drink, complete with passion fruit syrup and smoky mezcal. The only thing left to decide is which one to make first?