Summer’s just about over, and with the colder weather creeping up on us, the urge to escape to the land of sun and surf is stronger than ever. Even if you’re not able to get away and feel the sand between your toes, you can still lull yourself into a relaxed, beach-y state of mind.
Fall and winter have nothing on these carefree cocktails! Check them out at your favorite restaurant or bar, and turn your next evening out into a beach-inspired staycation.
Best Beach Drinks
Mai Tai Tiki cocktails were the summer drinks de rigueur in the ‘40s and ‘50s. They were festive, boozy and most importantly, tasty. After falling out of fashion due to the use of cheap ingredients, bartenders today are reviving the classic beach drink with versions containing fresh juices and premium liqueurs. Try this classic, made with amber rum, dark rum, lime juice, orgeat (almond syrup) and Cointreau (or another orange-flavored liqueur).
Painkiller Another drink in the tiki genre, this sweet concoction originated in the British Virgin Islands, so the beach is in its DNA. The classic version is made with Pusser’s rum (rum from the Virgin Islands), orange juice, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Order if you’re into fruity drinks.
Daiquiri Using only three ingredients, a classic daiquiri is refined and elegant. The careful balance of aged rum, simple syrup and lime juice keep this drink sophisticated yet refreshing. For a beach-y take on this cocktail, blend with ice to create its popular frozen counterpart. Order this one at that special date spot (or with your toes in the sand).
Mojito Mint is a prominent player in this traditional Cuban cocktail. By muddling the herb, aromatics are released, then sweet and tart elements of white rum, lime juice, simple syrup and club soda are added. It’s lively and zippy, perfect for sweltering nights.
Caipirinha A popular Brazilian cocktail, a caipirinha is very sweet and deceptively strong. Cachaca (a raw sugarcane spirit, similar to rum), sugar and lime are the base ingredients, but the addition of fruits like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries makes for some interesting variations. Relive all of this summer’s Olympic glory with one of these in hand.
Horchata (spiked) Milky and cinnamon-laced, horchata is a Mexican beverage made from rice. Lovely on its own, it also works as a delicious base for rum, brandy, or a vanilla liqueur. Try it during brunch for a change from the been-there-done-that mimosa, or as a not-too-sweet, after-dinner drink.
Pina Colada Nothing says “vacation” like this frozen legend. Pineapple, cream of coconut, coconut milk, white rum, dark rum and lime juice are blended together to create this frothy concoction. (And don’t forget about the umbrella garnish. Who doesn’t love a well-accessorized drink?) Watch the sun set on a rooftop bar with one of these in hand.
Negroni As our collective palates have acclimated to bitter foods, such as kale and brussels sprouts, this classic Italian cocktail, comprised of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari (a bitter-tasting, herbaceous aperitif), has becoming ragingly popular. Pretend you’re vacationing on the Amalfi coast, and sip one before dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Photo provided by Locanda in San Francisco.
Sangria Large-format cocktails are perfect for group get-togethers, and wine makes a refreshing base that appeals to all palates. Red or white wine, chunks of fruit, brandy and simple syrup make for this crowd-pleasing drink. Order a pitcher at brunch with friends.
Margarita Blanco tequila, Cointreau or other orange liqueur and lime juice are the key ingredients for this ubiquitous Mexican restaurant staple. Try adding tropical fruits, such as mango, for a twist on the classic. Don’t forgo the salt rim; it adds a kicky element to the tart flavors. Drink with tacos, and pretend you’re at a beachside taco shack.
Photo provided by Ole in Boston.
Paloma (with mezcal) The Paloma is kissing cousins with a margarita, sharing its sweet and tart flavor profile through the use of grapefruit juice, lime juice, sugar and seltzer. Up the intrigue with mezcal instead of tequila; mezcal is tequila’s smokier counterpart and adds depth to any drink. Try this refresher with grilled summer fare.
Michelada This spicy and quaffable cocktail actually uses beer, not liquor, as its base. A simple combination of pale lager (a style common with most Mexican beers), hot sauce and lime juice provide a thirst-quenching heat bomb. Drink if Srichacha is your condiment of choice.
Photo provided by Ole in Boston.
Session beers And finally, for those looking for the most straightforward, summer-inspired drink, session beers — not to be confused with light beers — are for you. Light beers refer to a lower calorie count; session beers are low alcohol beers (less than 5% ABV). The idea is one can drink several of them in a drinking “session” and not get plastered — perfect for long Saturday afternoons with friends at a local beer garden.