5 Bartender Tips for Summertime Cocktails
Words Erin Zimmer
The easiest place to find cocktail inspiration this time of year? The farmers’ market. Shop for summer-seasonal fruits like strawberries and raspberries (because who doesn’t love a good berry cocktail?) and fresh herbs to liven up your drinks at home.
We chatted with bar manager Jonathan Shock of Catahoula Hotel’s bar in New Orleans to get his advice on how to make delicious cocktails at home this summer.
1. Use More Herbs!
Challenge yourself to pick up herbs you’ve never made cocktails with before, like oregano or basil. Did someone say Rosemary Greyhound? Or Blackberry-Basil Gin Fizz? Berries and basil make a great team, as do rosemary and grapefruit juice. Fresh herbs add bright aromatic qualities to what otherwise might be a pretty simple drink, and give you major garnish points.
2. Swap in Honey Syrup
Try making your own honey syrup by mixing 2 parts honey, 1 part water. The honey syrup gives floral notes and way more complexity than your average simple syrup. Use this in lieu of simple syrup in your next drink—you’ll be pleased you did.
3. Gazpacho-ify Your Bloody Mary
With tomatoes in season right now, you have no excuse not to make a killer Bloody Mary. Blend ‘em up gazpacho-style with tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, and whatever herbs you have lying around. Think of it as somewhere between a chilled soup and a cocktail—lunch and a drink all in one. Vodka is a classic mix-in but tequila or mezcal will give your Mary a smokier, earthier flavor.
4. Make More Mojitos with Melons
Mojitos are a classic rum drink that work well with just about any summer fruit. Try one with fresh watermelon, cantaloupe or any other good-lookin’ melon from the market. Just measure out 1.5 ounces rum in your jigger along with 1 ounce of lime juice and 3/4 ounce of honey syrup (see previous statement about honey syrup!); muddle with 5 melon chunks. Grab your shaker and shake everything up, then strain out the melon pulp. Add a generous pinch of mint and top off with soda water.
5. Add Pineapple to Your Next Margarita
Margaritas also work quite well with summer fruits. We particularly like this combo of pineapple and cilantro. Mix 1.5 ounces of tequila with 1 ounce of orange cointreau, 1 ounce of lime juice, ½ ounce of honey syrup, 1 ounce of pineapple juice, and a generous little bunch of cilantro. Shake everything up (even those little cilantro floaties!) and enjoy.
Photos by Mia Reade Baylor