10 Low-Alcohol Cocktails for Steamy Summer Days

© Fredrika Stjärne
By Megan Krigbaum Posted July 22, 2015

Drinks based in ingredients like aperitifs, aperol, wine and sherry tend to be lower in alcohol, which means that they’re refreshing and light and won’t knock you over the head in the way high-proof spirits-based drinks will.

When it’s a gajillion degrees out and you have sweat pouring from places you didn’t even know you had, it’s nice to have a cocktail or two to cool off. Drinks based in ingredients like aperitifs, aperol, wine and sherry tend to be lower in alcohol, which means that they’re refreshing and light—and won’t knock you over the head in the way high-proof spirits-based drinks will. Here, Food & Wine’s most thirst-quenching, low-alcohol cocktails, and a couple no-alcohol mocktails, too.

Carpano and Soda
This three-ingredient drink is made with Carpano Antica, a vanilla, spiced, delicious and sweet vermouth. It will be your new high heat index favorite.

Peach-and-Lemon Verbena Bellinis
There’s a reason bellinis are so popular at brunch: you can have more than one and still go about your day. This peak of summer version from Cockscomb’s Chris Cosentino is best served in a garden.

Blood Orange-Rosemary Fizz
Aperol is a sort of lighter version of Campari, made with bitter orange, rhubarb and herbs. Here, Athena Calderone makes the traditional Aperol spritz even prettier than usual.

Beaujolais Cobbler with Raspberry Shrub
Light-bodied Beaujolais is a great red wine to drink slightly chilled in the summertime. Here, it acts as the base for a cobbler with a little tangy raspberry shrub added to make it even more juicy and vibrant. It’s a great drink to make batches of for summer parties.

Aged Bamboo
Star mixologist and Bar Book author Jeffrey Morgenthaler popularized barrel-aged cocktails from behind the bar at Portland’s Clyde Common. This classic sherry and vermouth drink becomes rich and smooth in the barrel, without being super boozy.

Triestine Iced Tea
Frasca’s combination of Italian Cynar (an herbal, bitter liqueur) and sweet limoncello is like a spiked version of an Arnold Palmer.

Adonis
Salty fino sherry meets lightly fruity Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth in this stirred drink.

Shandy
Chef Ned Elliott from Austin’s Foreign & Domestic has four different syrups for upgrading the refreshing, best-on-a-boat, beer-based shandy.

Lady Lavender’s Mocktail
This herb-infused grapefruit juice drink calls for lavender, but any herbs fresh from your garden would be delicious.

Emerald Palmers
Chef Susan Feniger’s matcha and mint blended mocktail is a perfect afternoon sipper–and is great with a little gin added in, too.

Related: Aperitif recipes
Canada's Prince Edward County Wineries Are Anything but Wimpy
Cute Bottles, Great Wines

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