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Top 10 Summer Cocktails: DIY Style

July 07, 2016

Top 10 Summer Cocktails: DIY Style

By Eleni Gray with Original Artwork by Heske van Doornen

I know that since I graduated from college, money has dwindled slightly (or significantly), but my desire to go out and socialize has certainly not.  I bartended for a bit while I was in school, and have realized the best way to go out in the city, especially in the summer, is to make some cocktails before heading out (without skimping on quality or strength).

Don’t be intimidated by those "shaker tossing," "bitters using" mixologists anymore; you can make bar-quality cocktails right in your kitchen. And here’s how. 

Before we start, you’ll probably want to purchase a jigger (for accurate pours) a shaker, and a strainer. Pretty simple purchases. I bought mine at a spot called Basics Plus about two blocks from the store for a total of $20 or so.  And good news, Taste Wine Co. sells some GREAT, unique, hand-picked spirits.  The first Old-Fashioned I made for the summer was with a Bourbon from the store.



Truly a classic cocktail, especially in the summer, this tequila lovely will make for a perfect pregame drink. You’ll want to make sure that you use silver tequila, but other than that there aren’t many rules. Here’s the recipe: 

2oz of Silver Tequila 

1oz of Triple Sec

1oz of Fresh Lime Juice 

You’ll want to fill your shaker with ice, pour the ingredients listed above over, grab that shaker with all your might and shake your heart out. This can all be poured straight into a glass (I serve mine in tumbler glasses, but there are also those cute specially made margarita glasses). If you want a salted rim, it’s very easy, just make sure not to use the salt in your cupboard (it’ll have you and your guests puckering). Purchase some margarita salt, use a lime to coat the rim of your glass, and dip. Bravo! You’ve made the margarita. 



This is another truly classic cocktail. My experience has been that people either love it or hate it.  It has the same ratio of parts as the margarita, just some different ingredients. 

2oz of Dry Gin

1oz of Sweet Vermouth

1oz of Campari (an Italian liqueur)

This one you can make right in the glass. Fill the tumbler glass with ice, pour over ingredients, stir well, and garnish with an orange peel. It’s sweet, but refreshing.  The end result should have a beautiful red color. 



For all those bourbon lovers, this cocktail will suit your needs magically.  

2oz of Bourbon Whiskey

1 Sugar Cube

Dash of Club Soda

Two Maraschino Cherries

Slice of an Orange

2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters 

The Old Fashioned intimidated me for a while— even as a bartender. I watched my boss make them and hoped I would never have to mess up that order for a customer. But once I got my hands on the ingredients, I realized it was not intimidating at all. And is certainly not the most difficult cocktail to make well.  

Again, you can make this cocktail right in the glass.  Start with the sugar cube, then splash just a bit of club soda over it. Throw the two cherries and orange slice over the sugar, and then pump those 2-3 dashes of bitters on top. Take a muddler, available as well at the Basics Plus two blocks from our store, and muddle all those ingredients together. It’ll extract all those good flavors. Throw some ice in first once you're finished muddling, then pour that beautiful brown Bourbon over all the ingredients. Stir. Enjoy. 



We’re in Manhattan, right? New Yorkers will always find a way to represent their city, so why stop at what you drink? 

2oz of Rye or Bourbon Whiskey (your choice) 

1/2oz of Sweet Vermouth

2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

1 Maraschino Cherry

Typically with whiskey, you won’t be shaking, you’ll be stirring. This drink is served in a cocktail glass, so you’ll have to mix all the ingredients in a shaker then strain the contents into the appropriate glass. First, put some ice water in your cocktail glass so that it chills out while you make your drink. Pour all of the ingredients, except the cherry, above over ice into a shaker. Stir well. Pour out the ice water from your cocktail glass, drop the cherry at the bottom, and strain the contents of your shaker into the glass. Maybe drink it while listening to Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind”? to really represent your city. 



Sex and the City marathon with the girls? Perfect. But hey, cosmos are not just for women. Especially if they’re made well. Real men aren’t scared to rock this yummy drink. 

2oz of Vodka

3/4 of Triple Sec

3 Lime Wedges 

Splash of Cranberry Juice

Garnish: Orange or Lemon Twist

I like to judge my drinks by color. Once you’ve made it enough times, and tasted it enough times, the color should always be the same. The Cosmo should have a perfect beautiful nearly transparent pink color.  Remember to fill your cocktail glass with ice water to keep it chilled while you mix it up. This drink can be shaken so fill your shaker with ice.  Drop in the vodka, the triple sec, squeeze those lime wedges, thrown them in as well, and then add your splash of cranberry juice. Shake it like a polaroid picture, toss your ice water, and strain the contents into your chilled cocktail glass.  I like my Cosmos with a lemon twist, and I usually coat the rim with it then toss it in the drink. Mmm. Yum. 



Probably the most simple to make, but by far my favorite. These recipes can be toyed with— I happen to like my lemonades not too sweet and with a good balance of citrus. 

2oz of Vodka

3/4oz of Simple Syrup

1oz of Fresh Lemon Juice

(Simple Syrup is very easy to make: boil 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of sugar to it, mix well. You’re done.)

Throw all of these ingredients into a shaker over ice…shake ‘em up real nice and throw all the contents into a highball glass. Add a lemon slice and enjoy. It’s basically summer in a glass.


This is one of THE most popular drinks in the summer. There’s also something called the Kentucky Mule, which subs the Vodka for Bourbon. 

2oz of Vodka

Splash of Fresh Lime Juice

Bottle of Ginger Beer

Lime Wedge

Pour your ginger beer first. Fill your mug (typically served in a metal mug) with ice, and bring the ginger beer to about halfway. Add the vodka, splash of lime juice and stir well.  Squeeze a lime wedge and throw it in as a garnish. 



The classic hangover cure — perfect for a brunch with friends hosted at your apartment. Most bars have prepared Bloody Mary mix — it usually contains Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, salt and pepper. Sometimes places will make it with other ingredients that they’ve tested out and like. My best suggestion would be to just buy a pre-made Bloody Mary mix. You’ll usually be able to tell which ones are bad and which ones are decent.  

2oz of Vodka 

Half a glass of Bloody Mary mix

Celery and Olive Garnish 

Pour the ingredients above into a highball glass over ice.  I like to throw these ingredients into a shaker, and then throw them right back into the glass. It mixes the drink just enough. Then I usually kebob some green olives, and a celery stick for a garnish. You make the drinks, friends make the brunch. Fair deal, no? 


This is another one of my favorite drinks. It’s strong, simple, and tasty. What else do I need? You can make a Gimlet like you can make a Martini: with Gin or Vodka. I prefer mine with Vodka.

2.5oz of Gin or Vodka 

1/2oz of Fresh Lime Juice

1/2oz of Simple Syrup 

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker over ice…you know what to do: Shake that thing with all you have. Strain the contents into a cocktail glass. Enjoy. 



Another popular drink in the summer, and for those who are fans of sweeter drinks.  And actually, one of the exceptions to the “don’t shake brown liquor” rule. 

2oz of Brandy or Cognac

1oz of Triple Sec

1oz of Lemon Juice

Garnish: Orange Slice and Sugar Rim

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker over ice. Take your orange slice, rub the rim with it, dip the rim in sugar and use the orange slice as a garnish. Shake your shaker and strain the contents into your sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.




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