What's the best summer drink?

The dog days of summer are here, and there's no question that nothing makes those hot summer days go by than the perfect drink.  While you're always going to have your particular favorites, sometimes you just want something different.  Summer brings a simple desire when it comes to wine, beer, or mixed drinks: crisp, light, and refreshing.  You want something that counters the heat and humidity - in other words lighter drinks that you might not take a serious look at the rest of the year are fair game: including frozen drinks and little umbrella drinks!  The best summer cocktails are going to vary widely from one person to another as tastes are always going to be different, but this article might give you a few ideas about what'll really hit home.

A few refreshing mixed drinks for summer

You can't argue with a summer cocktail article that starts with a drink that is famously associated with the beginning of May.  Hello Kentucky Derby and hello mint julep!  This southern drink of choice traditionally mixes bourbon, water, sugar, and spearmint for that ideal mix of sweetness and crisp refreshment.   Served chilled and this one is really a winner not only for the Derby but for any time you're looking for that gentle and refreshing early summer mixed drink.  You can serve these in an old fashioned glass, highball glass, or Collins glass.

You also can't get away from May without looking at the other obvious drinking day of Cinco de Mayo.  A frozen margarita can really hit the spot here and help you kick out those summer blues with style.  Lime is traditional, but frozen raspberry margaritas also serve as a light refreshing summer cocktail that you can even serve from the pitcher.

If you're a fan of the TV show Burn Notice then you will also be familiar with a Sam Axe favorite: the Mojito.  This awesome Cuban cocktail blends rum, lime, sugar, mint, and a touch of club soda.  Serve chilled and once again refreshment reigns supreme!  If you want to up the class even more, go with a traditional martini (gin and dry vermouth).

Finally, who says that you can't drink at breakfast?  Or brunch, if you just have to be that way.  Grab a mimosa for some early morning refreshment and hey, with an OJ/champagne combo you'll get your vitamin C with your bubbly.  Not a bad way to start the morning!  Follow it up with a few vodka lemonades if you really want to keep it light and in no time you'll be enjoying your drinking days of summer.

Great recipe book for sangria recipes and other pitcher drink mixes

101 Sangrias and Pitcher Drinks
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Many people have different ideas of what the ideal summer drink is, and that's because taste varies greatly from one person to another. However when it comes to crisp summer cocktails whether it's a mixed drink or some sort of sangria the rule is be refreshing. This book will give you plenty to try every single day of even the hottest summer!

What makes a good summer wine?

If you're going to enjoy summer drinking, it would seem remiss not to cover the topic of wine.  There's a wine for every season, and while the meal being served and simple mood of the drinker makes a bigger diference than anything else, I personally find that during a particularly hot summer that light white wine tends to hit the spot more than heavier complex reds.  This causes me to reach for the zinfandels, chardonnay, or even white merlots.  A good summer wine  shouldn't sit on the stomach when it's scorching out, which is why I often avoid red merlots, cabernet sauvignon and even the occasional pinot noir.  These are all excellent types of wine, but generally not light on the stomach.

There are many amazing light white wines that work well, and the good news is that you're not looking at $40 or $50 bottles.  Many great light whites can be found at around $10-15 and provide that crisp and delicious flavor that you'll find refreshing.  This also opens the door to sangria, which I've always found delightful in Florida in June and July and I've never drank it elsewhere.  Look for a good white wine or light sangria and enjoy the summer!

Picture of some refreshing sangria

Summer Sangria
Credit: Picture courtesy of wikimedia commons

Think unique for a new summer cocktail...

Sometimes the best route to go is by trailblazing your own way.  With new flavored vodkas coming out, honey whiskey, and other spirits the new combinations are nearly endless.  There are two in particular that I put together that I really love.  One is simple: it's basically a take off of the classic Hemingway whiskey and coke.  This drink is the honey whiskey and cherry coke.  The key here is absolutely that the honey whiskey is in the freezer and the cherry coke is in the fridge.  If you have a frosty mug to boot, it's even better.  The cold makes a HUGE difference with the taste.  Colder equals much better.

My other favorite Iowa State fans will love the name of.  Based on an awesome tailgating experience (every single one of them in Ames is) where all we had was peppermint schnapps and cherry coke when it was 39 degrees out.  The combination of cherry and peppermint when extremely cold was crisp and delicious - hence the Peppermint Cyclone.  At home make sure to have the peppermint schnapps in the freezer and cherry coke in the fridge with a frosty mug.  It's a refreshing and relaxing back to school drink for those college kids as well - especially if you want to enjoy a drink without buzzing like crazy (i.e. wondering how that homework really turned out).  So pull up a chair and enjoy without killing your GPA!

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The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails
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The name of this book says it all as this is one of the best guides to putting together a wide array of cocktails. Whatever the season, including summer, you'll be well prepared with this excellent drinking guide.

News story on the best summer cocktails

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