When the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, there’s nothing quite like kicking back with a refreshing summer cocktail. Easy summer cocktails are all about simple, no-fuss recipes that bring a burst of flavor and a cool, relaxing vibe to any gathering. These recipes are ideal for those who want to enjoy the flavors of the season without spending hours in the kitchen or behind the bar.
From tangy citrus blends to fruity concoctions, there’s something for everyone to savor. So, grab your favorite glass, some ice, and a few basic ingredients, and get ready to elevate your summer sipping experience with these effortless and delicious cocktails.
Nothing screams summer like watermelon. Every sweet and juicy bite is as refreshing as it is flavorful. This easy watermelon mojito makes a pitcher’s worth of sweet, minty mojitos, using fresh watermelon muddled with mint, lime, and simple syrup. The lime and mint provide a tart and aromatic compliment to the watermelon and the white rum gives it a rich finish.
For your next Taco Tuesday or Nacho Night, no Mexican food experience is complete without the most beloved Mexican cocktail of all, the Classic Margarita. It’s an easy summer cocktail made with a tasty trifecta of orange liqueur, silver tequila, and plenty of lime juice. You could make it a top-shelf margarita by using Reposado or Anejo tequila.
The ultimate tropical rum cocktail to enjoy poolside, a classic pina colada is a creamy, boozy milkshake that’s surprisingly easy to make. It’s just a matter of throwing all the ingredients into a blender. Pina means pineapple in Spanish, and this dreamy cocktail blends pineapple juice with coconut cream and coconut rum with a splash of lime to balance the sweetness.
One of Cuba’s most iconic rum drinks, the classic mojito is an easy summer cocktail with a well-balanced flavor profile. You don’t need any fancy equipment to make a mojito as you can muddle lime, mint, and simple syrup in your cocktail glass before adding rum and soda.
This three-ingredient cocktail is easy and visually appealing. A simple blend of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, the Tequila Sunrise is a sweet and spicy cocktail with a nice bitter finish from the grenadine, which also provides a shock of red. The grenadine and orange juice create the classic sunrise color spectrum as red fades to orange in your cocktail glass.
Aperol is a bitter liqueur with a negligible amount of alcohol. It’s the perfect aperitif for a summer evening. This elegant cocktail bends Aperol with Prosecco and club soda for a bubbly, subtly sweet cocktail with a refreshingly bitter finish. Plus, its low alcohol content means you can enjoy a second without feeling drunk.
If you’re a fan of boozy smoothies, the frozen margarita takes the refreshing and well-balanced taste of the classic tequila for margarita, adds more ice, and blends it all up for an award-winning texture. If you want to make it extra citrusy, you can add whole oranges in conjunction with triple sec and lime to the blender. This is the best recipe for a pitcher’s worth of cocktails.
A popular boozy treat from the 80s, Sex on the Beach is an ultra-sweet and fruity vodka cocktail, that’s a veritable fruit salad in cocktail form. It consists of peach schnapps, blackberry liqueur, and vodka with citrus and cranberry juices. This cocktail is easy to make by throwing all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
There’s nothing easier than spiking juice with alcohol, and this Vodka Lemonade spikes everyone’s favorite summertime refresher with vodka. You don’t even have to make the lemonade yourself. Just add a shot of vodka to your favorite brand of lemonade in a glass with ice, and enjoy! The balance of tart and sweet all but masks any inkling of alcohol from a neutral vodka.
This three-ingredient gin cocktail dates back to the 1880s. A Washington D.C. bar regular named Joe Rickey frequented the bar daily, ordering a proprietary creation that bartenders would later name after him. While the original recipe is a bourbon cocktail, the Gin Rickey swaps bourbon for gin. Floral gin gets a tart compliment from fresh lime, and seltzer tops it all off
Planters Punch is a tasty tropical cocktail composed of dark rum, lime, and simple syrup. Dark rum is especially rich and complex, giving this punch a level of sophistication. Bitters and soda water add the final touches to round out the tart and sweet flavor profile with a bitter finish and a bubbly texture.
Another famous Mexican cocktail to put a bottle of tequila to good use, the Paloma is just as easy to make as a classic margarita. It’s a trifecta of lime, tequila, and grapefruit soda. Grapefruit soda is sweet but it has that distinct bitterness and unique citrus flavor that distinguishes it from both the sweet and sour citrus fruits. It pairs perfectly with a spicy, alcohol-forward tequila.
There’s no easier summer cocktail than the vodka tonic, a refreshing mix of vodka and tonic water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Tonic water, made from the South American cinchona tree has a bittersweet flavor profile with a light bubbly texture that acts as the ultimate thirst quencher. It's also a low-calorie cocktail that’ll maintain your summertime beach body.
Sangria is the official summertime cocktail in Spain. It’s always made in a pitcher to enjoy with lavish dinners or tapas hours. This classic red sangria is the original recipe, combining red wine with rich brandy and fruit juices. Chunks of fresh apples, oranges, and lemons add texture and further infuse the alcohol with fruity flavors.
Another two-ingredient cocktail, the Whiskey Highball is an easy whiskey and ginger ale duo. This recipe uses rye whiskey, known for its spicy, earthy profile. Ginger ale is both sweet and spicy, pairing wonderfully with rye. You also have free reign to make this cocktail as strong or weak as you like because the proportion of ginger ale to rye is up to you.
If you’re not a fan of sweet cocktails, the Salty Dog will be your new favorite summer cocktail. It can be a gin or vodka cocktail, using a two-to-one ratio of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to alcohol. It earns its name from the salt-rimmed glass garnish, which serves to enhance the bittersweet grapefruit flavor.
A historic cocktail concocted in the 19th century as a boozy incentive for Navy men to prevent scurvy, the Gimlet is essentially a gin sour. It blends lime, simple syrup, and gin in a cocktail glass. The juniper flavor in gin gets a bright complement with the lime juice. If you want to honor the original recipe, you’ll need to get your hands on Rose’s Lime Syrup.
Yet another rum cocktail from Cuba, the strawberry daiquiri is a tasty way to enjoy the summer strawberry harvest. The Daiquiri is originally the rum version of a margarita, blending sugar, lime, and rum. Adding frozen strawberries and ice brings sweetness and a slushie texture. The white rum gives it a decadently rich alcoholic finish.
Moscow Mules are easy and flavorful cocktails served in a stunning copper cup. Consisting of ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice, the Moscow Mules cover all the flavor bases, from sweet to tart, to spicy and aromatic. The carbonation from the ginger beer is light, and the sweetness is subtle, balanced by a strong ginger flavor.
The ultimate summer brunch cocktail, the Bellini is a sweeter take on the classic mimosa, blending sparkling wine with peach juice. A dry prosecco adds some nice tannin bitterness to complement the sweet and juicy peach juice. This cocktail would taste great with an Italian frittata or a plate of pasta carbonara.
This light and refreshing vodka cocktail is a simple blend of cranberry and grapefruit juice. Cranberry juice is more tart than it is sweet, while grapefruit juice is more bitter than it is sweet. The two juices in unison thus have the perfect amount of sweetness with equal parts bitter and tart.
The Dark and Stormy originated in Bermuda during the 19th century as a way for the native Gosling Rum distillery to show off their Black Seal dark rum. Even if you can’t get your hands on a bottle of Gosling, any dark rum will do. The Dark and Stormy is a blend of ginger beer and dark rum. Both ingredients have strong, complex flavor profiles that complement each other beautifully.
Originating in West Texas, which is known for its vast ranches and dry, hot weather, Ranch Water offers a way to beat the heat. It is an easy summer cocktail to make, combining mineral water with tequila and a squeeze of lime. The mineral water and lime are hydrating electrolytes that will complement tequila’s alcoholic and smokey flavor while lessening the likelihood of the next day’s hangover.
Cucumber water isn’t just a fancy spa drink, but the foundation for this elegant take on the classic gin cocktail. It requires a little more effort than a gimlet but it’s still quick to whip up. The key is to muddle thinly sliced cucumber with lime and basil to release all the flavors into the gin. Another novel ingredient in this recipe is lemonade, which adds a double dose of citrus and sweetener.
The Daiquiri is to Cuba what the Margarita is to Mexico. It is the original rum sour. A stunning trifecta of lime, simple syrup, and rum, the Daiquiri is the best way to showcase your favorite rum. It can be a light rum for a more alcohol-forward cocktail, or you can use dark rum for top-shelf richness.
The Mimosa is everyone’s favorite brunch cocktail. It combines Champagne and orange juice in a narrow champagne flute. Store-bought orange juice expedites the process of making this cocktail, but you can squeeze your own for the tastiest, freshest version. Mimosas are citrusy and bubbly, pairing perfectly with a hearty brunch dish like eggs benedict or a Croque Monsieur.
The Cape Codder is known more pervasively as a vodka-cranberry. It’s the classic cocktail to order when you aren’t the biggest fan of spirits as the tart, sweet cranberry juice camouflages the vodka. This recipe uses a three-to-one ratio of vodka to cranberry, which shows just how overpowering cranberry juice is. Beware of the strength of this seemingly inoffensive cocktail!