the booze of summer
April 25, 2009 2:27 AM   Subscribe

What are good summer drinks that are a) uncomplicated and b) not too high in calories?

Over the winter Mr. Llama and I discovered the importance of cocktail hour. We'd come home and have a bourbon or scotch and unwind before sailing into the evening task hours. It was lovely, and I'd like to continue over the summer, but don't like the thought of drinking scotch in eighty degree weather.

We drink beer and wine but it's somehow doesn't have the same official cocktail hour quality. What are good summer drinks? We don't want anything complicated or high caloric; the point is to keep it very simple and relaxing. I don't want to come home and whir up a pitcher of margaritas or anything.

Gin and tonics are a good idea, but I get a little sick of them. What else fits the bill? The fewer ingredients the better -- gin and tonics, with gin, tonic, and lime, are right at the edge of overcomplicated and mojitos definitely fit the 'overcomplicated' label. I'm hoping for "rum and sugar over ice" kinds of things.

What summer drinks have the same "pour and enjoy" quality as bourbon in February?
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (74 answers total) 124 users marked this as a favorite
- vodka and club soda (with optional lemon)
- ginger beer and dark rum with lime (called a "dark and stormy")
- vodka and cranberry juice
- whisky sours (2 parts whisky one part sweet and sour mix, and lots of ice)
- gingerale and rye
posted by sanitycheck at 2:38 AM on April 25, 2009

Pimm's is delicious. It's a drink base containing gin, that's sort of spicy-fruity-bitter, and it's refreshing in the same way as not-too-sweet iced tea.

1 shot Pimm's No. 1
Fill with 7-Up
1 slice Cucumber
Twist of Lemon peel (mint leaves, or orange slices, or strawberries, or maraschinos work too)

You could also mix a shot of Pimm's into a glass of icy [lemonade, ginger ale, ginger beer] alone or in combination, and throw in a little more gin if you like.
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:39 AM on April 25, 2009 [5 favorites]

I love mixing up darker american beers w/ bacardi limon.
posted by bigmusic at 2:41 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A classic martini is a wonderful summertime drink. Gin and vermouth - stirred and garnish. (James Bond was cool, but he was wrong about his martini's.) Simple and cool. If you want to skip the part with the ice, just keep the gin in the freezer and the vermouth in the frig - I'll forgive you. Those vile drinks that some folks call martini's might be simple too - but do you really want to drink something tailored for the masses?
posted by bigmusic at 3:20 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow. I wish i was married to either one of you! What a super-sophisticated-uber-cool couple.

Dark rum goes well with Cola and lime.

I once worked as a bartender and i will never forget the French 20-something backpackers who came in one day (and returned because I was open to their - ) bizzarro-world liking of Scotch whiskey and Orange Juice.

I even tried it - it had some good points, although socially it is not acceptable. The Frenchies had trouble with my reluctance and thought I was parochial. I was...

Galliano (the yellow one flavoured with amongst other things Vanilla) goes well with vanilla ice-cream and fresh mango.

Experiment with Angastoura Bitters and anything.
posted by evil_esto at 3:46 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pastis
Chelsea Sidecar
posted by fire&wings at 3:47 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pimms. They also make a winter version, based on brandy, if you wanted to keep with the Pimms theme year round.
(I've never had the cukes & whatnot recommended with the first recipe, just usually strawberries, pomegranite, cherries or sliced apples)
posted by Grrlscout at 3:50 AM on April 25, 2009

Make that pomegranate-the alternative my predictive text suggested might be a bit hard to swallow!
posted by Grrlscout at 3:53 AM on April 25, 2009

my favorite summer cocktail: pernod (20%), orange juice (50%) and something bubbly (seltzer, champagne, what have you) (30%) in a tall glass filled with ice. zomg. adjust ratios to taste (i like more pernod than that, but it's a good place to start).
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:58 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pimm's - but with Old Jamaica ginger beer!

evil_esto: Were you reluctant or open to the Frenchie drink?
posted by dance at 4:25 AM on April 25, 2009

San Peligrino Aranciata w/ Vodka is by far the best summer drink for 2009
posted by askmatrix at 4:33 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing Pimm's but make sure you fill the glass with summer fruits and fresh mint - strawberries, oranges and cucumber are delicious. Drink outdoors in a park for best enjoyment.

Sangria is also quick to make and deliciously refreshing - perfect for sharing out of pitchers or punchbowls.

Vörösboros kóla
is one of my new favourites. I like to make sure that the ingredients are very chilled before serving and drink it out of pint glasses by a body of water. For added kick (and sickly sweetness) try replacing the wine with Port.

Mmmm, I think I might go fix me a drink...
posted by turkeyphant at 4:37 AM on April 25, 2009

I'm a sucker for the Spritzer. Pint glass, half white wine, half soda water and a ton of ice.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:01 AM on April 25, 2009

I've become perhaps over-fond of Gin and Fresca. Low in calories (none from the soda, anyway) and dead simple.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:10 AM on April 25, 2009

Best answer: Probably not technically a cocktail, but a pitcher of sangria is a nice way to relax in the summertime.
posted by COD at 5:30 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

My friends and I are fans of the "gin buck": take a highball, throw some ice in, shot or two of gin, fill the rest with ginger ale. (Diet, in your case?:) Garnish with a lime or lemon, if you've got one around.
posted by knile at 5:41 AM on April 25, 2009

Cointreau, soda water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice with ice.

Stone's Mac (green ginger wine and whisky) with a couple of fingers of tropical juice then topped up with soda with ice.
posted by goo at 5:48 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding pastis. (I like diluting it with sparkling instead of still water.)
posted by olinerd at 5:55 AM on April 25, 2009

We call a tequila and Fresca a "skinny margarita".

I'm a huge fan of the "Tom Petty" (named for a friend who invented it, not the singer). In a glass pitcher, mix:

1 cup vodka
2.5 cups blueberry pom
1 liter diet tonic
posted by JoanArkham at 6:07 AM on April 25, 2009

Vodka + chambord + pineapple juice. Add a cherry if you have em around.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:10 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Favorite Summer Cocktail: The Icepick
Vodka + Iced Tea/Sweet Tea, try flavored vodkas for additional variations (raspberry vodka, etc)

Firefly is vodka brewed sweet tea - pour over ice in a tall glass, garnish with lemon!
posted by prettymightyflighty at 6:11 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Limoncello is a perfect summer drink.

I think Lillet would also be a good summer drink, especially before dinner.
posted by Caius Marcius at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Looza Pear Nectar and coconut rum. Serve over ice.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:21 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's the Ellison, courtesy of Blue Owl (terrible website here): Hendrick's gin (and none other), fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup, a dash of bitters, and one or two very thin slices of cucumber floating in it. Shaken and served like a martini. I usually make a mint simple syrup and throw some more in the shaker. It might be my favorite summer drink. Alas, it's been a while, so I'm a little forgetful about proportions. I seem to remember more gin than anything else, and it should be not too sweet or too sour. It tastes like being Jordan Baker.

Consider also the Mint Julep. Bourbon, simple syrup, muddled mint; serve over ice and garnish with enough mint to fill up your face when you take a drink.

The tequila Old Fashioned also seems more summery than its whiskey counterpart. Tequila, bitters, and a twist of orange. Start by muddling the bitters with a teaspoon or so each of water and sugar, then add ice cubes, then add tequila.

(We're pretty big fans of summer drinking around here.)
posted by felix grundy at 6:26 AM on April 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also—these are a little more complicated than what you asked for, but I promise that you will not be sorry that you took the time. Especially with the old-fashioned—once you make them once or twice, it barely seems like any more effort than just whiskey straight.
posted by felix grundy at 6:28 AM on April 25, 2009

The watermelon martini is the quintessential summertime cocktail.
posted by torquemaniac at 6:35 AM on April 25, 2009

Lemonade and bourbon go together very well.
posted by lizbunny at 6:50 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love Long Island Ice Teas but they are a bit high in calories so I usually go with Crystal light and rum. Make the crystal light strong (you can use either the Ice Tea or the Lemonade) float the rum on top, add lots and lots of crushed ice and a slice of lemon. Sounds unsophisticated, I know, but very smooth and refreshing.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:50 AM on April 25, 2009

Southern Comfort with cherry limeade (Minute Maid makes a nice brand, you'll find it in the orange juice case at the grocery store). It's so very tasty, but be careful not to drink crazy amounts. After a certain point your stomach cannot handle all the alcohol and citric acid and will be a very sad stomach indeed.

One after work should be fine, though.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:52 AM on April 25, 2009

Spritz: prosecco + campari + splash of soda water. garnish with olive or lemon. there are probably official proportions but you can play around. campari is pretty strong.

Campari + soda

Panache: beer + not very sweet sprite-like thing (limonade). I wouldn't use sprite, but if you can find something like Sprite but less sweet it would work. Same idea as the beer + mike's hard lemonade above.

Monaco: Panache + grenadine

Indian: grenadine + orangina. This would be perfect with some rum or vodka.

Punch: white rum + sugar syrup lightly infused with cinnamon and tea + orange juice + pineapple juice + grapefruit juice. Maybe more for when there's company.
posted by ohio at 7:41 AM on April 25, 2009

No, no, no. The only summer drink is Campari and soda. Bitter, grapefruit like flavour. Makes you feel like you are on a street in Italy. If you want, turn it into an Americano and pretend you are a Bond girl.

On preview, Ohio beat me to it.
posted by ms.v. at 7:56 AM on April 25, 2009

A good quality dark rum and a good quality black tea, with a touch of natural rose water. It brings out the wood notes in all of the elements. If you must have it sweeter, a touch of Pilipino Salabat, powdered ginger with a touch of citrus calamansi.

You must have a mini chocolate peanut butter cup while drinking the beverage or you are only halfway to heaven.
posted by effluvia at 8:00 AM on April 25, 2009

I love Firefly as prettymightyflighty mentioned, but watch out - it's a lot stronger than it tastes!

Pimm's Cups, as mentioned, are delicious.

My favorite new drink is "Cajun Spiced Iced Tea." I was introduced to it by Old New Orleans Rum, and their spiced rum is fantastic, but probably any spiced rum will do. I often bring this to parties (one bottle of rum, one gallon of iced tea, a squeeze bottle of simple syrup and a couple of sliced lemons, let people mix their own). You can buy simple syrup but I think it mixes better when you make your own and it's super easy

Fill hi-ball glass with ice.
Add 1.5 oz. Spice Rum
Add .5 oz. simple syrup
Fill with unsweetened iced tea
Stir & serve with lemon slice.
posted by radioamy at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2009

For extra grapefruity goodness, add to your Campari and soda some actual grapefruit juice. Rev the whole thing up with some vodka. Delicious and refreshing.
posted by rtha at 8:27 AM on April 25, 2009

Try a Moscow Mule
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:29 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vermouth. That's it.

Of course, the type of vermouth matters; I find that chilled white vermouth (Not dry vermouth; Martini Bianco, for example) is a wonderfully light and refreshing drink. And it's as simple as it gets. Maybe add a twist, I guess.
posted by vernondalhart at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2009

San Peligrino Aranciata w/ Vodka is by far the best summer drink for 2009
posted by askmatrix at 4:33 AM on April 25 [+] [!]

This is delicious.

Also refreshing is mixing San Pellegrino Limonata half and half with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Gin & lemonade is a lovely summertime drink, too.

We also like to mix white wine (like a pinot grigio not a chardonnay) with pineapple and fizzy water.
posted by fancyoats at 8:43 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Classic Gimlet: 1/2 Gin, 1/2 Rose's Lime Juice
Calimocho: 1/2 red box-wine, 1/2 Coca Cola

Seconding Limoncello (store it in the freezer) and Prosecco.
posted by rhizome at 9:11 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

San Peligrino also makes a very tart lemon soda (our Costco has a half orange/half lemon flats of cans right now) that mixes well with vodka or even limoncello - over ice.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:24 AM on April 25, 2009

We always made a gimlet with gin and a fresh sqeezed lime, nothing else. Easy, refreshing, and low calorie.

My favorite Lime Rickey: Vodka, club soda, and a spot of Rose's Lime Juice.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make yourself some cucumber infused vodka (it's really easy) and serve it on the rocks with a splash of tonic and a twist of lemon.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2009

Champagne cocktail. Glass of champagne + a small amount of any sweet liqueur seems interesting. Now's the time to use up those weird fruity liqueurs. Bitters work, too. If you don't finish the bottle, put a stopper on it and use the rest the next day.

Campari + soda. Has the benefit of being very low alcohol.
posted by Nelson at 10:18 AM on April 25, 2009

Caveat- this drink suggestion requires a bit of prep labor, but results in an unbelievably refreshing and delicious drink. I'm not sure about the calorie content either, but I think you won't care once you've tried it.

I recently made a bottle of orgeat and coupled it with pastis and sparkling water to make a momisette, and boy oh boy was it ever exquisite!

For bonus DIY points, you can use the leftover almond meal to make an apple or plum frangipane tart, and prepare yourself for some tasty summer evenings.
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 10:45 AM on April 25, 2009

Also, beer mixology can take you places:

Snakebite - hard cider and lager beer
Shandy - beer and lemonade
Demi-peche - beer with a shot of peach syrup (I use Monin)
Bière grenadine - beer with a shot of grenadine
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 10:56 AM on April 25, 2009

Blackcurrant vodka and (diet?) tonic water with a lemon wedge. Mmmmm fresh!
posted by lunaazul at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2009

Response by poster: These are all fantastic ideas. Thank you so much. I'm not marking favorites because there are so many that I want to try, but I made a preliminary list and went to the liquor store.

Here's what I bought.

I have martini glasses chilling in the freezer. Don't know what I'm making yet, but these are awesome.

And it was a LOT of fun to go to the liquor store and plan on buying a bunch of things. Typically if I go to the liquor store it's to buy a thing or a different thing, not a bunch of things that I haven't totally predetermined. It was so much fun to pick these out, and a lot of this is stuff I wouldn't have thought to buy. (I spent $119 for you budget-minded people -- I'm a budget minded person, too, so this was a pretty big treat.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:27 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess I should add---we already had gin, a couple kinds of rum, and Galliano and a bunch of other odds and ends.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:47 AM on April 25, 2009

Gin, Club Soda, Cranberry to taste. Squeeze a lime in it and done.

This avoids the too sweet gin and tonic taste.
posted by schyler523 at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I forgot! For your tonic water needs, acquire some Fever Tree tonic. It is expensive and worth it; their bitter lemon is also delicious. I haven't seen it at BevMo recently, but can usually find it at Whole Foods.
posted by rtha at 1:31 PM on April 25, 2009

Campari + soda.

campari & tonic also
posted by juv3nal at 1:33 PM on April 25, 2009

Another Campari fan, here. I like it with soda, Mr. ap likes his with tonic like juv3nal. I've enjoyed it with orange juice and lots of ice, and with a splash of sweet red vermouth. It's an aperitif, making it a great before dinner drink.
posted by angiep at 3:07 PM on April 25, 2009

Oh ho!

You need to be introduced to the vast mixology archives of Metafilter. There is no better place to start than Miguel Cardoso's recipes in this thread based on the Old Fashioned cocktail. There is much here to learn and consume.

Start at the recipe for the Caipirinha and move upwards.
posted by jeremias at 3:12 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Even though they are my absolute favorite summer drink, I agree with Terrible Llama that mojitos can be overly-complicated to put together quickly or for a crowd. But here's my solution:

1. Make up your simple-syrup in advance and keep in the refrigerator. I keep it in one of those small tonic bottles after I've emptied the tonic into a gin & tonic first. Having simple-syrup always on hand makes lots of drinks possible that you ordinarily wouldn't go for.

2. If you don't have a easy supply of mint (I keep mine growing right outside the kitchen door), get yourself a small bottle of Fee's Mint Bitters.

Now you're all set for a Quicki-Jito, using your favorite mojito recipe.
posted by webhund at 3:49 PM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

A Bronx (a perfect martini, plus OJ).
posted by MikeKD at 3:59 PM on April 25, 2009

Thirding pastis. One shot of pastis (Ricard is readily available; Henri Barbouin is less common but nicer), some water to dilute to taste, and ice (optional). Pernod is another anise-based liquor, as is ouzo.

Another possibility: the kir. Dry white wine with a few dashes of crème de cassis. The American-made crème de cassis is vile, so get some imported from France.

And, while it has three ingredients, they're all in the same proportion so you can use the same measure: the negroni. One part red vermouth, one part Campari, and one part gin. Stir over ice.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2009

Vodka & Orangina.
posted by elizardbits at 4:22 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I became a huge mojito fan when I realized that mint is the only plant I can keep alive :)
posted by chiraena at 6:50 PM on April 25, 2009

Had an interesting mojito last night: In addition to muddled mint, it had a smidge of muddled jalapeno. Holy cow, was it refreshing!

But what I really want to respond with is this: I see you bought red vermouth. This means you have half the makings of a Manhattan. All you need is bourbon, ice, and a martini shaker.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:03 PM on April 25, 2009

I'm a big fan of the Sea Breeze (Vodka + Cranberry + Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit). We made some and threw it into the ice cream maker a couple weeks ago-- it didn't work exceptionally well (didn't get all that frozen) but was pretty delicious.
posted by NoraReed at 8:42 PM on April 25, 2009

Vodka and homemade lemonade. It is refreshing, a bit tart, and you make a batch of lemonade and are set for a couple days. While, I like a million other cocktails that is my summertime go to favorite.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2009

The Bloody Dog
2 oz Vodka
2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Campari
On the rocks, orange twist

Aperol is a great, less bitter and more orange flavored, substitute for any drink containing Campari.

One I was working on a few weeks back. No name yet.

2 oz Bombay Sapphire
1/4 oz Aperol
1/4 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
Dash of peach bitters
Shake and strain, serve up
Top with sparkling wine and a lemon twist
posted by Jawn at 9:53 PM on April 25, 2009

We drink a lot of Campari in the summer, with OJ, soda, or on the rocks.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:02 PM on April 25, 2009

Others may go through the hassle of making orgeat syrup from scratch if they like, but for my taste 1 oz. Torani's Orgeat syrup + ~10 oz. soda water + ice makes a very nice nonalcoholic summer afternoon beverage.
posted by Guy Smiley at 1:08 AM on April 26, 2009

Response by poster: But what I really want to respond with is this: I see you bought red vermouth. This means you have half the makings of a Manhattan. All you need is bourbon, ice, and a martini shaker.

I love Manhattans! And bitters, if I'm remembering right. I'm not sure I ever made them at home.

One thing we'll probably try to do is keep the drink pretty boozy. The idea is only to have one or two, which would probably eliminate some of these suggestions from cocktail hour status and put them into other recreational capacity. If they're too drinky, we'll drink more then one and then we won't be able to/won't want to do all of those fun tasks waiting for us at the other end of cocktail hour, or we'll drink them too fast out of enthusiasm and cocktail hour will become cocktail fifteen minutes.

(Yesterday I went with BigMusic's classic martini recommendation.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:33 AM on April 26, 2009

evil_esto — if you add sweet vermouth and cherry brandy to the backpackers' whiskey and orange juice, you have a blood and sand.
posted by Lexica at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2009

Great thread.

How about switching to a summer bourbon that wouldn't be insulted to have ice added to it?

We have Manhattans every Sunday (also in the winters, autumns, and springs).

And, yes, Lillet is very nice in the summers, served on ice.
posted by booth at 12:52 PM on April 26, 2009

Response by poster: switching to a summer bourbon


What's a summer bourbon? We've been buying Knob Creek. It's great, but I don't think of it as summery.

Maybe that's perception, though.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2009

If you can get hold of proper cassis/blackcurrant syrup, you can make a Jellybean.
It's great without the Cointreau as well, with mint and lots of ice.

(Note: the lemonade called for in the recipe is European-style lemonade - you can just substitute 7-Up or even ginger ale if you can't get hold of some)

Speaking of lemonade, you could also make shandy. Lager and light ales are nicest, but shandies made with stout can be lovely, too.
posted by Grrlscout at 2:29 PM on April 26, 2009

Late to the party, but. If you ever find Passionfruit Orangina (I only ever saw it in France) you have to try it with gin. Following on this principle, any passionfruit based soft drink/juice goes great with gin, as do blood orange and mandarin flavours.

Did I read somewhere that you wanted to be disgusted, cause there is alwasy Respberry Sunny D and gi...oh, okay, thats cool.
posted by atmosphere at 2:31 AM on April 27, 2009

Half lemonade, half sweet tea, half Jack Daniels*. We used to call this "Run, Jump, and get Nekkid Juice."

*Adjust to logical proportions.
posted by ColdChef at 12:20 PM on April 27, 2009

Indian Summer... mmmm got it out of a cooking light magazine

1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
2/3 cup crushed ice
2 orange slices, cut into quarters
2 pineapple slices, cut into quarters
posted by Metachel at 9:20 AM on April 30, 2009

What's a summer bourbon?

I mean some bourbons are so good it would be an insult to add ice. But in the summer I'll have a bottle of Jim Beam in the house to drink on the rocks when I get a taste for bourbon.
posted by booth at 7:39 AM on May 2, 2009

One of my gang's favorites is the Jack and Ginger. Simply enough:

Shot of Jack and Ginger Ale to taste on the rocks.
posted by mi6op at 5:30 PM on May 2, 2009

Second the Aperol, especially in a spritz:
one part white wine or prosecco, one part Aperol, one part soda water. Add a few ice cubes and a slice of orange.
posted by insouciant at 7:48 AM on May 7, 2009

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