8 Classic Cocktails to Make for Summer

Summer will be here before you know it, and what’s better for whiling away a hot summer afternoon or relaxing on a warm summer night than sipping at a classic cocktail? These cocktails are perfect choices for beginners who are just learning how to mix. They’re some of the most beloved, tried-and-true drinks around, and they’re simple enough that a newbie can easily put them together by following the recipes. Of course, they’re also good base drinks if you feel like exploring and trying your hand at some new ideas, too. So don’t be afraid to get a little creative!


This classic is minty, fresh, and features club soda to give it a fun sparkle.

  • 2 tsp fine white sugar

  • 1oz lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 12 mint leaves plus five mint sprigs

  • 1 cup ice, crushed

  • 2oz white rum

  • 1oz club soda

Add sugar and lime juice to a highball glass and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add ¼ of the crushed ice, then rub the mint leaves around the rim of the glass. Tear the leaves in half and drop them into the glass. Stir for 15 seconds slowly. Add rum, remaining ice, and club soda, then stir for about 5 seconds more. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

Margarita on the Rocks

Of course a blended margarita is always a fun drink option, but on the rocks can be even more refreshing.

  • 1 cup triple sec

  • 1-1/2 cup silver tequila

  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier

  • 1 orange

  • 2 limes

  • ¼ cup salt

  • 2 cups margarita sour mix

Pour the margarita sour, triple sec, tequila, and Grand Marnier in a pitcher. Slice the orange and limes, set aside one wedge of lime, and add the sliced fruit as well. Use the lime wedge to run around the rims of your margarita glasses. Dip the glasses in salt to coat the rims. Fill the glasses with ice and pour the margaritas over them. Serve immediately.

Mint Julep

The quintessential summer drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep has a long heritage that makes it as interesting as it is delicious.

  • 1.5tsp fine white sugar

  • 10 mint leaves

  • 2.5oz Kentucky bourbon

  • Seltzer water

Put the mint leaves in the bottom of your glass, preferably an Old Fashioned glass. Add sugar on top of the mint leaves. Use a muddler or pestle to muddle the two together to “chop” the leaves. Pour in just a small splash of the seltzer water and fill the glass just under full with ice. Add bourbon and a second splash of seltzer water. Stir and serve, optionally garnished with another mint leaf.


Just like the margarita, if you’ve only had a daiquiri blended, you’re missing out!

  • 2oz white rum

  • 0.5oz lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 0.5tsp fine white sugar

Chill a cocktail glass. Add the lime juice to a cocktail shaker, preferably by squeezing it directly into the shaker. Stir in the sugar to dissolve. Add the rum and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until combined and strain into your chilled glass.

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is another drink with a rich heritage, and it’s worth taking your time sipping on this classic.

  • 1oz simple syrup

  • 2oz dry gin

  • 0.75oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • Soda water

  • Maraschino cherry

  • Lemon wedge

Fill a highball glass with ice, and fill your shaker with ice as well. Add the syrup, gin, and lemon juice and shake to combine for 15 seconds. Strain into the highball, top with the soda water, and garnish with the cherry and lemon wedge.

Note: Some people swear by the stirred version of this drink, rather than the shaken. Experiment with both and see what you like.
To make a stirred Tom Collins, add the simple syrup, gin, and lemon juice to a highball glass. Fill the rest of the way with ice, then top with the soda water. Stir briefly to combine and garnish with lemon and cherry.

Watermelon Basil Tequila

Try this more modern take on the summer cocktail for a burst of summer flavor at every turn!

  • 0.5oz simple syrup

  • 0.5oz lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 4 basil leaves

  • 4 cubes of watermelon

  • 0.5oz yellow Chartreuse

  • 2oz silver tequila

Add the watermelon to a cocktail shaker along with the lime juice, simple syrup, and three of the basil leaves. Use a muddler (or a pestle if you don’t have a muddler) to crush all of these ingredients together. Add the Chartreuse and tequila, then fill the shaker the rest of the way with ice. Shake for 15 seconds before straining into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the last basil leaf.

Long Island Iced Tea

  • 0.75oz gin

  • 0.75oz silver tequila

  • 0.75oz white rum

  • 0.75oz vodka

  • 0.75oz triple sec

  • 0.75oz lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 0.75oz simple syrup

  • Cola

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add gin, tequila, rum, vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Pour in a small splash of cola and stir gently, just a few times, with a swizzle. Serve, optionally with a lemon wedge for garnish.

Tequila Mockingbird

  • 0.75oz crème de menthe

  • 2oz silver tequila

  • 1oz lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1 slice of lime

Chill a cocktail glass. Fill a shaker with ice. Add the crème de menthe, tequila, and lime juice, and shake vigorously to combine. Strain into chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lime.

With so many delicious summer cocktails to choose from, you’ll want to get started making these right away! These cocktails are all meant to be as light and refreshing as possible while still keeping things a little fun and exciting, too. They’re all relatively easy to make, even if you don’t have a lot of experience shaking and stirring cocktails, and they’re all sure to provide you with the kick you’re looking for to help jumpstart your summer plans. Bring along the ingredients on your next beach vacation or make them at home to enjoy leisurely in the backyard. No matter how you want to enjoy them, they’ll make your summer great!

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