Summer Sipping: These cocktails create a perfect remedy for San Antonio's scorching heat

Here are four summer-ready cocktail recipes to kick off the sizzling season.

click to enlarge Summertime fruit is perfect for muddling and juicing for a boozy libation. - Pexels / Augustinus Martinus Noppé
Pexels / Augustinus Martinus Noppé
Summertime fruit is perfect for muddling and juicing for a boozy libation.

There's no better way to cool off and savor the dog days of a Texas summer than with a refreshing cocktail in hand.

Whether you opt for the tang of freshly squeezed lemons, the sweetness of ripe strawberries or a luscious mango-and-pineapple blend, summertime fruit is perfect for muddling and juicing for a boozy libation.

Though fruit is typically the star of a hot weather-worthy cocktail, don't forget about fresh herbs. Freshly picked mint, thyme and basil add depth and fragrance to fruit-forward cocktails. What's more, lemongrass boasts a natural ability to deter mosquitoes. Double-duty herb, anyone?

Here are four summer-ready cocktail recipes to kick off the sizzling season, whether you plan to spend it reclining by a sparkling pool, whisked away to a sandy beach paradise or just enjoying the cool air conditioner while parked on your couch. We even included a zero-proof option for non-alcoholic, yet flavorful, hydration.

Cheers To You

Shared by Mercedes Garrett, CEO of San Antonio mobile bartending business Raise the Bar Inc., this sparkling tipple relies heavily on the tartness of fresh lemon made into a simple syrup. We suggest adding a sprig of fresh thyme if you have it on hand.

2 ounces vodka or gin

3 ounces lemon serum (see recipe below)

Sparkling water

Shake spirit of choice with lemon serum and ice, then strain over fresh ice in a rocks or Collins glass. Top with sparkling water.

Lemon Serum

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Juice of 2 lemons

Bring all to a boil. Cool and store.

Bourbon Peach Smash

A bourbon smash is the quintessential summer cocktail for whiskey lovers, but the addition of freshly muddled fruit takes it up a notch, especially if you're using uber-local Texas peaches — and you should be, because Hill Country peach season begins right about now and runs through mid-August. This recipe calls for a ginger beer topper, which adds a refreshing, slightly spicy note.

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Half a large peach, diced

3-4 large mint leaves

2 ounces bourbon

Splash of ginger beer

Fresh mint and peach slice for garnish

Add peaches, mint leaves and simple syrup to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Gently muddle to release the peach juices and mint oils. Note that over-muddling the mint will cause it to become bruised and bitter. Add bourbon, fill the shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and a peach slice.

Watermelon Daiquiri

The term "daiquiri" is usually reserved for the lime-forward cocktail staple served on beaches all over the globe. This slightly sweeter watermelon version from Food & Wine Magazine uses fresh watermelon and agave syrup to create a "rum drink for margarita lovers," replete with a salted rim.

One 2-pound seedless watermelon, chopped

2 1/2 ounces white rum

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

1/4 ounce agave nectar

Kosher salt and watermelon slice for garnish

Process chopped watermelon flesh in a blender until smooth, about 45 seconds. Pour processed watermelon through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium bowl and discard solids. Chill juice until ready to make drinks. Salt half the rim of a chilled coupe glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with white rum, lime juice, agave nectar, and 1.5 ounces watermelon juice. Shake vigorously with ice until well-combined. Strain into coupe glass, and garnish with a watermelon slice.

Zero-Proof Basil Lemonade

Basil and lemon sing together in most culinary applications — think pesto, pasta and sorbet — so it's no surprise that the combo also lends itself to a refreshing summer sipper. Sweetened with just a touch of honey, this recipe can easily be made ahead for pool or porch parties. Allowing the mixture to infuse for 30 minutes to an hour before straining creates a stronger basil flavor.

8 lemons, juiced

4 ounces honey

8 ounces packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

24 ounces cold water

Lemon slices and basil leaves for garnish

Place lemon juice, honey and basil in a blender and whir them together until very smooth. Pass through a strainer into a pitcher or large jar and add water. Chill until ready to serve, then do so over ice, garnished with lemon slices and basil leaves.

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Nina Rangel

Nina Rangel uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. As the Food + Nightlife Editor for the San Antonio Current, she showcases her passion for the Alamo City’s culinary community by promoting local flavors, uncovering...

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