While there’s nothing like cracking open a cold beer and then subsequently cracking open four more on a hot summer afternoon, one must never forget about summer cocktails, which are also an extremely good way to refresh yourself when it’s sunny and sweaty out. For those interested in mixing their own drinks—which is totally cool, just please don’t call yourself a mixologist—a change of seasons is always an excellent excuse to pick up a few new bottles at the liquor store.
So, in the interest of warm-weather boozing that’s a little more novel than a gin and tonic, we’ve crowd-sourced recommendations for five new bottles to add to your bar cart, stat.
Plantation’s 3 Star Rum
Bartender Ivy Mix, who runs Brooklyn’s Leyenda, likes to add this spirit to any rum cocktail: “It’s delicious, full of body, and a little funk even though it’s a white rum. I like to make daiquiris in the summertime because they’re so easy, just a little lime, sugar, and rum and there you have it. Throw in some watermelon or strawberries if you really want to get fancy!”
Vermouth Del Proffesore Rosso
GQ‘s Travel & Eats editor Marian Bull has started turning to this aged vermouth as her go-to nightcap: “This has a bunch of fruity richness from the red wine and the oak aging, but it’s still super refreshing and perfect over ice—just what you want at the end of a long day. I’ve also started making a spritz out of it with soda water, or using it instead of regular vermouth in other cocktails. It’s also an A+ hostess gift—will make you look very cool.”
“I feel like Campari is the hot ticket right now via Negronis” says bartender Tristan Willey, “but people overlook all the other options, especially summer options. When it’s hot out it makes the best quenching options: Americanos, Campari and soda (I almost daily go out and buy a can or bottle of club soda, take a sip, and then pour in an ounce of Campari). Pour some into a pilsner and it makes a stellar bitter beer.” The bright red liqueur makes for a very Italian way to drink in the sun.
High West Campfire
GQ contributor (and resident cocktail expert) Mark Byrne refuses to cede to clear spirits in the summertime: “Personally, I like to taste the booze I spend money on, even when it’s hot out. So I’ll stick to whiskey, but I might err towards a bottle with a bit of a punch to it—either higher-than-normal proof or an odd flavor profile, something that’s going to hold its own in a glass full of ice and soda. For me, High West Campfire ticks all those boxes. It’s got this amazing smokiness to it that does really cool shit in a recipe when you swap it in for a basic bourbon. I know some people will read this and be like, ‘that sounds like the kind of thing that would be really good in the winter.’ Screw these people. They can go drink a vodka tonic or something.”
Sarah Baird, author of New Orleans Cocktails, is a big fan of this clear brandy made from white muscat grapes that has long been the national spirit of Bolivia. “Singani is currently gaining steam in the U.S. thanks to the backing of director Steven Soderbergh, who discovered the spirit while shooting Che in 2008 and started his own line, Singani 63,” Baird explains. “‘Brandy’ doesn’t really do the spirit justice (this is nothing you’d want to swirl in a snifter, after all), and while I mostly like to drink it on the rocks as an apertif, it’s also a stellar replacement for tequila in a Paloma.”