20 Summer Cocktails to Keep You Cool

Kettle Cove
Photo: Victor Protasio

These refreshing summer cocktails can keep you cool whatever the seasonal occasion. Some of our favorites include a cucumber-rose gin spritz, which gets subtle floral flavor from dried rose petals, and a golden-hued white sangria infused with Thai basil, and fun frozen drinks. Read on for those recipes and more summer cocktails we love.

01 of 20


Two Paloma cocktails
Photo by Rachel Vanni / Food Styling by Judy Haubert

Fresh grapefruit juice is the star of this cocktail. Shaken with flavorful reposado tequila, a squeeze of lime, and lots of ice, the drink is topped with splashes of lemon-lime and club sodas for a not-too-sweet version that is sure to refresh.

02 of 20

Watermelon Daiquiri

watermelon daiquiri with watermelon wedge
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Preparing fresh watermelon juice gives this blend-and-sip cocktail a burst of cool melon flavor, though fresh, high-quality store-bought juice will work here, too. It's a rum drink for margarita lovers, with a salted rim that balances tart lime juice with sweet agave syrup and just as easily makes one drink with leftover juice as it does eight for a crowd.

03 of 20

Tabernacle Crush

Tabernacle Crush
© John Kernick

This light and refreshing cocktail is as reminiscent of the American South as it is of the South of France. It's made with fresh peach and basil, gin, Lillet, lemon juice, club soda, and a bit of simple syrup.

04 of 20

Tom Collins

Tom Collins
Guillermo Riveros / Food Styling by Oset Babür-Winter

With likeness to a Gin Sling or Gin Fizz, the Tom Collins is an easy cocktail made with gin, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and carbonated water. It's thirst-quenching and refreshing, with balanced sweet and sour flavors along with an enticing, fizzy finish. 

05 of 20

Thai Basil Sangria

Thai-Basil Sangria

Buff Strickland

The Spanish drink sangria draws its name from the blood-red color of its traditional red wine base. This stripped-down version gets its rich golden hue — and zingy flavors — from white wine, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a kick of brandy.

06 of 20

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food styling by Lucy Simon

Typically served in a stemmed wine glass filled with ice along with an orange wedge garnish, it's best to use brut Prosecco for this drink, which already has plenty of sweetness from its eponymous ingredient. Feel free to toy with the ratios — for a more bitter flavor profile, add more Aperol; for a less boozy spritz, opt for more soda water.

07 of 20

Cucumber-Rose Gin Spritz

Cucumber Rose Gin Spritz
Victor Protasio

A classic combination of gin, lemon, and club soda gets a refreshing twist with cucumber, basil, and cardamom-infused syrup. Dried rose petals add a subtle floral flavor and act as a beautiful garnish.

08 of 20

Tamarind-Mezcal Sour

Tamarind Mezcal Sour Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Smoky mezcal and savory bitters are rounded out by sweet-tart lemon juice and tamarind puree in this punchy cocktail.

09 of 20

Banana-Rum Old-Fashioned

Banana Rum Old Fashioned Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

A bold, strong cocktail with both high-proof bourbon and light rum gets a hit of floral sweetness from mellow crème de banane.

10 of 20

Third-Wave Swizzle

Third Wave Swizzle Recipe
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

A swizzle stick is key to this cold and frothy gin-based drink, but if you don't have one on hand, you can use a long bar spoon to mix. To create the best froth and chill, rub the swizzle stick between both hands to swish it back and forth in the cocktail.

11 of 20

Strawberry-Rum Coolers

Strawberry-Rum Coolers
Greg DuPree

Ripe strawberries are cooked with lime, ginger, and agave until fragrant and tender, then get blended with both white and dark rum and topped with a float of ginger beer. 

12 of 20

Pimm's Cup

Pimms Cup

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

The Pimm’s Cup is an example of a fruit cup or summer cup, an English category of cocktail that features herbal spirits, bubbly mixers, juices, and plenty of seasonal edible garnishes. This cocktail is a classic quintessential summer cup, as it includes an herbal, gin-based liqueur, bubbly ginger ale or lemon soda, and elaborate garnishes like sliced apples, lemons, oranges, cucumbers, and plenty of mint.

13 of 20

Fresh and Easy Piña Coladas

Fresh and Easy Piña Coladas
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Coconut milk provides richness that rounds out sweet-tart chunks of frozen pineapple, adding a creamy texture to this lighter take on classic piña coladas that uses both white and dark rum. Be sure to vigorously shake the can of coconut milk before opening to recombine the coconut liquids and coconut cream.

14 of 20

Sour Cherry Mezcal Margarita

Sour Cherry Mezcal Margarita
Photo by Kelsey Hansen / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Sue Mitchell

This fruity spin on a margarita combines smoky mezcal, citrusy Cointreau, and sweet-tart cherry puree in a vibrant red drink perfect for late-summer sipping. Bright, pleasantly tart sour cherries are in season for a limited window, so this simple roasted puree is an easy way to preserve their flavor.

15 of 20

Mai Tai

Mai Tai Cocktail

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

Perhaps the most well-known tiki drink, the Mai Tai is a true celebration of rum. The pale yellow cocktail topped with a classic rum float elegantly marries citrus flavors with just the right amount of sweetness. It gets its rich, nutty flavor from orgeat, a sweet cocktail syrup crafted from a base of blanched, ground almonds that are boiled and sweetened with sugar.

16 of 20

Apricot Nectarine Julep

Apricot-Nectarine Julep
Photo by Kelsey Hansen / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Sue Mitchell

A puree of roasted apricots and nectarines brings out bourbon's notes of vanilla and nutmeg, making for the ultimate late-summer cocktail. Pour some of the reserved puree on top of the crushed ice for a cocktail that almost resembles a Hawaiian shave ice. The same roast-and-puree technique can be used for more stone fruits, such as plums and sour cherries. 

17 of 20

Tequila-Watermelon Aguas Frescas with Prosecco

Tequila-Watermelon Aguas Frescas with Prosecco

In this cooling cocktail, Prosecco adds a lively spritz to a light, watermelon-forward margarita. If you happen to have a juicer on hand, you can certainly use it here.

18 of 20

Strawberry-Lemon Mojitos

Strawberry-Lemon Mojitos
© Wendell T. Webber

Strawberries sweeten these mojitos from mixologist Joaquin Simo. "This is a great drink when you're in the mood for something fruity," he says.

19 of 20

Frozen Cucumber Margaritas with Chili-Sumac Salt

Frozen Cucumber Margaritas
Victor Protasio

"My most recent slushy obsession is a tequila, cucumber, and coconut water creation, blended up with cilantro and lime and rimmed with a mix of chili powder, sumac, and salt," Top Chef judge Gail Simmons says of her recipe for Frozen Cucumber Margaritas with Chili-Sumac Salt, which we first published in 2019. "It's an ode to my favorite Mexican street snack, fruta con chile y limón: little bags of sliced mango, cucumber, and jicama usually sprinkled with Tajín, a spicy and sour snack seasoning." 

20 of 20

Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

The Long Island Iced Tea is not for the faint of heart. Made with a combination of vodka, white rum, silver tequila, gin, triple sec (or orange liqueur), simple syrup, cola, and if you’re feeling fancy, some lemon juice, it's a potent cocktail filled with a range of flavors.

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