In the summertime, mixologists have fresh, ripe produce at their disposal, and they often use it to create flavorful cocktails that are perfect to sip poolside or on a patio. Phoenix Kelly-Rappa, managing partner and CEO of Cuca Fresca cachaça, notes that farm-driven cocktails peak in popularity in the summer. “The farm-to-glass concept works well with Cuca Fresca because the spirit pairs perfectly with fresh fruits, berries, herbs and even peppers,” she says. Freddie Diaz of the beverage consulting company Alambiq Mixology created The Fiery Passion for the brand using Cuca Fresca Ouro, simple syrup, fresh passion fruit purée, lime juice, basil leaves and serrano chili pepper.
At Santa Monica’s Ox & Son, summer cocktails are designed to be enjoyed during the day. The drinks are made with lower-alcohol base ingredients, such as aperitifs and sparkling wine. “We craft these cocktails with the growing legion of day drinkers in mind,” says beverage director Tyler Ott. “Our low-octane cocktails are an antidote to Santa Monica’s hot days and great for guests seeking something fresh, light and flavorful.” Ott’s best-selling Lavender Blanc ($11) features Lillet Blanc aperitif, Dolin Blanc dry vermouth, Bar Keep Organic Lavender bitters and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water, while the popular Champagne Sangria ($11) comprises La Marca Prosecco, lemon juice, and house-made grenadine, orgeat syrup and oleo saccharum. The Rhubarb Rozata ($11) blends La Marca Prosecco with Fee Brothers Rhubarb bitters and house-made oleo saccharum and orgeat syrup.
Even traditional cocktails get a fresh twist during the warm months. “It’s hard to beat a well-made Gin and Tonic as the quintessential summer drink, but gin has much more versatility with its array of botanicals,” says Charlotte Voisey, portfolio ambassador and brand mixologist for Hendrick’s gin owner William Grant & Sons. The Cucumber Basil Smash, created by Hendrick’s brand ambassador Jim Ryan, mixes the gin with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and fresh basil and cucumber.
“Summer is the season to look for cocktail ingredients at the farmers’ market or even to grow them yourself at home,” Voisey adds. “Anything from tart citrus to lush fruits like pomegranate and watermelon to flowers, fresh herbs and even savory ingredients, such as cilantro and tomato, can be so refreshing in the summertime.”