If you’re like us, you’re sick of winter—the cold, the gray skies, the layers, the hibernating. And though we can’t make summer arrive any faster, we can at least pretend it’s here. Make one of these classic summer cocktails to transport you to an imaginary beach.
Brazil, the largest country in South America, stretches over nearly half of the continent. For many, the country calls to mind images of impossibly beautiful beaches populated by even more impossibly small swimwear. Or maybe it’s the Amazon rain forest or the Christ the Redeemer statue hovering over the postcard view of Copacabana.
Fewer people outside of Brazil know about the Caipirinha, but that’s changing quickly. The national drink of Brazil is a classic sour formula recipe highlighting Brazil’s most famous spirit, cachaça. Muddle your lemons and sugar in the glass, throw in some ice and splash on some of this Brazilian rum cousin, and you have a tropical cocktail you can make without ever leaving the beach.
Though Peru’s neighbor to the South, Chile, also claims the Pisco Sour, Peru is generally credited as the birthplace of the grape brandy cocktail. (It’s Peru’s national drink.)
The drink is not unlike a classic egg-white whiskey sour, except with lime replacing lemon and, of course, Peruvian pisco instead of whiskey. Shake one up and fantasize that you are machete-ing down vines in the jungle instead of huddling next to your space heater.
For a relatively recent invention, the Hemingway Daiquiri is steeped in half-truths, whole lies and confusion.
Ernest Hemingway may have been born in Illinois, but this drink, reportedly invented after a chance encounter in Havana’s El Floridita bar, is forever tied to Cuba. After trying just one, it becomes (a little) easier to understand how Hemingway, consuming a reported 16, came into possession of the bar’s Daiquiri record.
Sometimes, you want a stiff, stirred drink. When you do, you head to a fancy dark-wood bar manned by someone in a starched shirt. And when you want a tropical twist on a Piña Colada, you head to a place called The Soggy Dollar Bar in the Virgin Islands.
Who knows just how much of this story is apocryphal, but according to Pusser’s, the rum brand of choice in the drink, the recipe originated at this island bar (so named because the standard method of arrival is swimming). This drink, with a rum base, coconut, orange and pineapple, is worthy of any tropical beach—even without its amazing origin story.
The Margarita is one of those beautiful, balanced drinks that many people have experienced only its “cruise ship” forms. You know the ones: Margaritas with fake lime juice, sometimes too much salt and nearly always too much sweetness.
But with tequila making a bold new push into cocktail programs and top shelves around the world, the Tijuana classic is being made right again. Even if you aren’t lounging on a beach in Baja or wetting your lips in the Yucatán, mix yourself a Margarita and take your mind off winter.
Invented by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in the iconic hotel bar, this drink just celebrated its centennial. And if you’re lucky enough to make it to the bar these days, you can still enjoy the creation, surrounded by rattan furniture and the tossing of peanut shells on the floor. Be warned, though: The hotel’s website makes it clear that pool attire is not permitted.
Yes, the Singapore Sling is a pink gin drink, but how many similar recipes make it through a century on bar lists? Build one of these and consider a trip to Malaysia’s Southern neighbor.
In 1940, New Orleans’ Pat O’Brien’s bar, located around the corner from Bourbon Street, had a problem. It had a lot of crummy rum and needed it gone. So bartender Patrick O’Brien added a passion fruit mixture to the bad booze and threw it over ice inside a hurricane lamp. He went down in history as a problem solver, and a classic was born.
These days, Hurricanes are served around New Orleans in a variety of forms, but even while recipes change, the joy of drinking something a bit too boozy and sweet while people-watching isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Though England itself is not tropical by any sense of the word, its reach as a colonial presence occasionally brought something British (like gin) somewhere warmer (like India), where soldiers required antimalarial aids (like quinine).
Quinine is quite bitter—a problem the British solved by adding sugar and soda, creating what we eventually came to know as the T in G&T. These days, the Gin & Tonic is served in bars around the world, but true fans will tell you it never tastes as good as it does somewhere incredibly hot and humid, preferably served ice cold in a sweaty, dusty bar. It’s just that refreshing.
If you want an even more reinvigorating, modern spin, take a look at bartender Jamie Gordon’s fruit-filled Garden version.
The Mojito was created in Cuba, but it really took off, according to historians, when visitors escaping American Prohibition visited the island nation. As the drink began to pop up on menus in hotels and bars around Havana, the recipe found its true calling with the additions of carbonation and, crucially, ice.
From there, the drink has traveled the world. A wonderfully light creation, the white-rum mojito is properly made with lightly pressed mint—you don’t need to destroy it. During the short, dark days of the calendar, make a point of heading to the local grocery store to pick up some limes, soda and mint. Crank the heater, and for at least an hour or two, enjoy the island vibes.
When people think tropical paradise, their minds don’t usually race to London. But when summer does peek its head out in this city, those in the know reach for a Pimm’s Cup, the quintessential long summer sipper of the British.
With its base of low-ABV Pimm’s No. 1, the recipe is built tall and stuffed with, well, really whatever you want. Usually, this will include cucumber slices, lemon, strawberry, orange and mint. It’s like a bizarro-world Bloody Mary—if you have the basics right, the rest of the recipe is comfortably “dealer’s choice.” Often, Pimm’s Cups are batched large and served in pitchers, which is something we’re just fine with. The final product is something you can sip all day and into a warm Waterloo sunset.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.