Great summer drink ideas: Cocktails, spirits and no-alcohol alternatives

The weather might have been a bit hit-and-miss this summer – but that doesn’t mean your seasonal drinks selection should be the same. Of course, there are plenty of refreshing summer wines to choose from. However there are numerous other options to explore.

This is the time of year when long drinks rule: thirst-quenchers that are simple to prepare and easy to mix up in pitchers or jugs to share with friends. Below you will find some great ideas, from cocktails and spirits to no-alcohol alternatives.

Classic summer cocktail recipes include salt-rimmed Margaritas and rum-laced Tiki drinks like the Mai Tai. But if you enjoy experimenting with flavours and preparing mixes that your friends and family might not have tried before, drinks writer Laura Foster suggests simple summer twists on classics.

Meanwhile spritzes continue to be a popular, lower alcohol choice. If you fancy a change from an Aperol Spritz try pairing a vermouth, such as Barcelona’s El Bandarra Al Fresco (see below) with tonic instead.

Are you in holiday mode and preparing mixed drinks just feels like too much effort? Then reach for a quality ready-to-drink cocktail to make life even easier. Simply fill your glass with plenty of ice, pour and enjoy.

Many distillers put summer ingredients to good use in seasonal editions of their spirits – from flavoured vodkas to summer gins. Floral and fruity botanicals such as strawberries and rose petals, or seaside plants like rock samphire and sea purslane help to conjure up seasonal vibes in a glass. And who doesn’t love unwinding with a crisp G&T at the end of a hot sunny day?

If you want to avoid alcohol altogether, the range of interesting low- and no-alcohol drinks continues to grow at a rapid pace. From convincing gin alternatives such as Seedlip and Sea Arch Coastal Juniper to bottled and canned mocktails or hard seltzers… There has never been more choice for drinkers choosing to go alcohol free. Whatever your preference – and whatever the occasion – the selection below will give you plenty of bright ideas…

Hands holding summer cocktail glasses and raising a toast

Summer drinks to try

Recommended by Chris Losh and Julie Sheppard 

Agua de Madre Lemon & Ginger Kefir Water

If you want something citrusy and invigorating but without caffeine, sugar or alcohol, this is a good bet. The flavours of lemon and ginger are subtle and because it’s water-based it’s naturally light, with just a hint of funky kefir tang. Could work as a wine (or a mojito) alternative, and since it’s probiotic it’s good for your gut, too – just don’t drink too much of it! Alc 0.5%

Aluna Coconut Rum

For a totally tropical taste try Aluna: a blend of five rums from Guatemala and the Caribbean, made with toasted coconut and sustainably sourced coconut water. Slightly lower in sugar and alcohol, there are lots of fresh creamy coconut aromas with nice spiciness on the palate, plus toasted coconut notes and vanilla – like sipping rum out of a coconut shell. Rum fans can enjoy it neat over ice; pair it with cola and lime for a coconutty Cuba Libra or pimp their Piña Colada. Alcohol 37.5%

Bax Botanics Verbena

Created by Rose and Chris Bax, a wife-and-husband herbalist team in Yorkshire, this is a really distinctive gin alternative. Verbena, mint and fennel are craft distilled – and their flavours are faithfully reflected in a drink with precision, lift and the joyous lazy hum of a British country garden. Pair it with tonic water and lots of ice; ready-to-drink cans are also available. Alcohol 0%

£18.99/50cl Bax BotanicsThe Alcohol Free Co, Master of Malt

El Bandarra Al Fresco

Step aside Aperol Spritz, there’s a new summer tipple in town… Made in Barcelona, El Bandarra Al Fresco is a bitter-sweet vermouth that you can pair with tonic for a vibrant aperitif. With lower alcohol than a G&T, vermouth and tonic is a lighter, more refreshing take on a sparkling summer cocktail. Mix 50ml El Bandarra Al Fresco with 100ml tonic in a highball glass filled with ice and garnish…

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Great summer drink ideas: Cocktails, spirits and no-alcohol alternatives Great summer drink ideas: Cocktails, spirits and no-alcohol alternatives *Great summer drink ideas: Cocktails, spirits and no-alcohol alternatives