There are few cocktail styles more cooling and refreshing than the swizzle, which originated in the Caribbean, specifically the West Indies. A swizzle is defined by its use of crushed, cracked, or pebble ice (which is to say, not cubed) and its preparation method: swizzling with a swizzle stick. The original swizzle stick derived from twigs with forked branches sourced from a south Caribbean evergreen tree, Quararibea Turbinata, but today it’s commonly made from metal or plastic. While it’s possible to craft these refreshing cocktails at home with a bar spoon, the best results are achieved when a proper swizzle stick is used.
Once you have the proper tools and ice, you’ll want to try your hand at making these eight swizzles. A word of advice: Scale up the recipes and make them in pitchers if you’re drinking with company. They’re incredibly quaffable drinks and will disappear quickly.
T.J. Palmieri, the owner and operator of Madrina's in Gainesville, Fla., took inspiration from the classic Ti’ Punch and made it into a cooling swizzle. Rhum agricole, the grassy sugarcane-based rhum from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and St. Lucia that serves as the base in Ti’ Punch, fortifies the Maracuya Mistress. It’s joined by passion fruit juice, hibiscus syrup, and fresh lime juice for a vibrant and fruity mix that’s guaranteed to mentally transport you to a tropical isle.
Bermuda Rum Swizzle
The Rum Swizzle is the national drink of Bermuda, and this iteration is the standard template from which most modern swizzles have derived. Most Rum Swizzles contain rum, a fruit juice, and a sweetener such as grenadine or falernum, but it’s common for bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts to put their own flourishes on this riffable formula. This version employs both the gold and the black versions of the island’s popular rum brand, Goslings. Pineapple and orange juices, grenadine, and Angostura bitters get added and swizzled up before being joined by festive fruit garnishes.
If you’re a Star Wars nerd, the name of this flavorful swizzle may ring a bell: Sarlacc Pit was the name of the sand-dwelling flesh-eating monster favored by the slug-like Jabba the Hutt in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. This concoction appeared on the menu at The Sixth Bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, and is made with a blend of El Dorado five-year-old gold rum, ginger syrup, lime juice, Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters and “Han’s Mix,” a tweaked version of the tiki classic Don’s Mix #1 from the godfather of Tiki, Donn Beach.
From the now-shuttered Fish & Game in Hudson, New York, this cocktail epitomizes the restaurant’s low-waste philosophy through the use of a red wine vinegar made from the restaurant’s spent wines. This avant-garde take on the swizzle uses the vinegar to add acidity and brightness to the drink, which also includes Old Tom gin, fresh citrus, and ginger. The mix is finished with aromatic bitters and sliced ginger.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
While rum is the favored spirit among swizzle-style cocktails, it is by no means essential. This version of a swizzle goes off-script and employs a base of 12-year-old Irish whiskey. It’s paired with a blanc vermouth, lemon juice, and grenadine before being garnished with some fresh mint and a cherry. Who says you can’t enjoy whiskey in the summertime?
Federal Ave. Swizzle
Bartender McLain Hedges created this cocktail at the now-closed RiNo Yacht Club in Denver, Colorado. It’s a swizzle for the cocktail-savvy home bartender, as it requires a bit of dedication and prowess to make. It combines Fords Gin, sake, coconut water, turmeric juice, lime juice, and a spiced syrup, yielding a drink that’s both refreshing and memorable.
Sea of Confusion
If you’re a dedicated home bartender looking to get into some serious cocktailing, then this cocktail, created by Houston Eaves, the beverage director at The Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, is the type of swizzle you’re looking for. This stunning serve is made with funky Hamilton Jamaican pot-still gold rum, Clear Creek pear brandy, yellow Chartreuse, Cappelletti amaro sfumato rabarbaro, passion fruit syrup, and fresh lime juice. It’s topped with a layer of aromatic bitters and the powerful Lemon Hart 151 rum, along with a mint sprig.
Chicago-based bartender Vinny Starble developed this seasonal swizzle by using an alternative acid source while citrus was out of season. In it, he uses a tartaric acid solution for brightness and acidity, which is combined with sake, grape brandy, a floral grappa-based chamomile liqueur, and blackberry sage tea syrup. It’s delicate, nuanced, and looks as good as it tastes.