12 Bartenders Mix Cocktails Inspired By Their Fondest Summer Memories

Summer in a glass

It's officially summertime, which means bartenders are starting to think about how they can keep their patrons cool and refreshed. For those mixologists who take a special pride in what they do, that involves more than just booze, mixers, and a bunch of ice. Here, 12 bartenders from around the country—with the majority of them in New York—have each created a special drink that's inspired by a specific and everlasting summer memory. Read on for the recipes.

Nick Bennett, Porchlight, New York

"One of the first bars that I worked in, growing up in the Hamptons [Long Island, New York], was run by a man that only drank Gibsons made with house-made onions. The onions were so good that I would eat them throughout the shift. I wanted to recreate that."

The Porchlight Gibson

2 oz. Plymouth gin

.75 oz. dry vermouth

.25 oz. onion brine

4 drops saline solution

Sherry-spiked onions, made in a sherry vinegar brine with basil, thyme, allspice, lemon peel, black pepper, mustard seed, and sugar, for garnish. 

Build the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice until properly chilled. Strain into the coupe glass and garnish with onions.

Meaghan Dorman, The Bennett, New York

"Growing up on Long Island Sound, we knew it was really summer when we picked garden strawberries and got free rein on the whipped cream after dinner on the deck. The Strawberry Letter is an elegant ode to a fresh summer treat." 

The Strawberry Letter

.5 oz. strawberry shrub (made with strawberries, raspberry vinegar, sugar)

1 oz. Aperol

3 oz. Vinho Verde Rosé

A splash of club soda

Combine all ingredients in a wine glass over ice and stir. Garnish with 4 strawberry slices.

Giuseppe Gonzalez, Suffolk Arms, New York

"The Notting Hill was actually inspired by two things: The gin used is from Notting Hill. But more importantly, the inspiration for the Suffolk Arms, the Churchill Arms, is in Notting Hill, London. It is literally the most beautiful bar I have ever seen. I saw it in the summer. The exterior is three stories of flowers and vegetation covering the walls. When in full bloom, it's majestic. The drink reminds me of that place every time I make it."

The Notting Hill

2 oz. Portobello gin

3/4 lemon

3/4 Small Hands Foods tonic syrup

Muddled mint

Cucumber juice

Swizzle all the ingredients, and garnish with cucumber and mint.

Christian Orlando, Seamstress, New York

"The first memory that pops in my head for this drink is cookouts. The smoke and bacon on the nose, instantly spark my memories of sitting with friends and just relaxing over a grill and enjoying the smell of the smoke."

The Captains Remedy 

1.5 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition whisky

.75 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

.5 oz Manzanilla dry sherry

.75 oz lemon juice

.25 oz honey syrup

.25 oz Orgeat

1 teaspoon tamarind purée

One dropper of Dutch Colonial Bitters

Bacon mist spray

Place all ingredients except bacon mist in the shaker. Shake with ice. Fine strain. Serve in small rocks glass with no ice. Spray one pump of bacon mist over top of the cocktail. Garnish with a candied ginger skewer.

Brett Esler, Whisler's, Austin, Texas

"For whatever random reason, we always used to eat candied ginger pieces in the dugout when I played baseball as a little kid in the summertime. Nothing evokes all those fond memories better than the Mula Español and its bright crisp ginger notes."

Mula Español 

2 oz. Lustau Solera Gran Reserva brandy

.5 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 bar spoon of Lustau East India Solera sherry

3 oz. Ginger People ginger beer

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a copper mug. Garnish with 3 pieces of candied ginger on a bamboo skewer.

Shawn Chen, RedFarm, New York

"This cocktail was inspired by summer vacations by the beach, watching surfers conquering the waves, while sipping on tropical cocktails such as piña coladas."

Ride The Tai

1 oz. Parce 8-year-old rum

1 oz. Flor de Cana white rum

.50 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

.50 oz. house grenadine

.75 oz. fresh orange juice

.50 oz. fresh pineapple juice

1 oz. fresh lime juice

Add all ingredients into shaking tin. Shake and strain over a pearl diver glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with two sliced pineapple slices, orchid flower, and cocktail umbrella skewer.

Brian Means, Dirty Habit, San Francisco

"As a kid, I grew up around the water, whether it was up at my cabin in Sonoma or our backyard. The one thing my mom always had for us was this stuff called Kern's Nectar which were fruit juices in a can. I really loved the guava and mango flavors, and sometimes we would fill up popsicle trays with the juice and freeze them and eat those as a dessert. So good and refreshing!"

Aloe Be Thy Name 

2 oz. guava banana puree*

1 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur 

1 oz. lime juice

1 oz. soda water

Combine all of the ingredients except soda in a mixing glass and add ice. Shake and then double strain into a cocktail coupe. Add the soda and garnish with a lime wheel.

*Guava Banana Puree

16 oz. The Perfect Puree Pink Guava Puree 

2 large bananas (peeled) 

6 oz. white cane sugar 

Combine all the ingredients in a pot and stir. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Add to a blender (in batches if you need to) and blend until smooth. Place in a container in the fridge. (You can also freeze if you like!)

Tony Abou-Ganim, an author and cocktail consultant, Las Vegas

"I grew up in Michigan so apples were always around, and apple pies in the summer with ginger ice cream were my favorite. Now I can drink that memory!"

The Zing Zing

2 oz. vodka

.5 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

.5 oz. Berentzen apple liqueur

1 dash Angostura orange bitters

Stilton blue cheese-stuffed olives, for garnish

Add vodka, Canton, Berentzen, and orange bitters to an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with 1 to 3 olives.

Jane Elkins, Dream Baby, New York

"The Ginger Cooler was inspired by ritual Sunday gatherings with friends, most of which converged on various rooftops in Brooklyn [, New York]. We would get together to share great food, great drinks, and great stories, to find community as a patchwork group of souls in a city of many. As sunset fell, our gazes would turn westward to what seemed like an infinite horizon of fire. Sipping on light libations, we were momentarily mesmerized by the dramatic skyline, washed of worries from the week past. In this moment, we were renewed."

The Ginger Cooler

3 oz. Lipton's pineapple chamomile herbal tea, chilled

.25 oz. fresh lemon juice

1 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

.5 oz. of your favorite vodka, bourbon, or cognac

Lemon wedge for garnish

Pour ingredients over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Stir in one strawberry, sliced. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Lucien Gaudin, L'Appart, New York

"This drink is a precursor to the now-famous Negroni, which is the definition of a classic summer cocktail. It's best enjoyed on L'Appart's private patio, overlooking the Hudson River Harbor. The drink was first mentioned in the Savoy Cocktail Book circa 1925, and is named after a famous French Olympic gold medalist in fencing."

The Lucien Gaudin 

1 oz. Plymouth gin

1 oz. Dolin dry vermouth 

.75 oz. Aperol

.25 oz. Cointreau

Shake all the ingredients and pour over ice block.

Danny Neff, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, New York

"With the Ocean Club, we wanted to make a cocktail inspired by the modern tiki revival and featuring the distinct caramel notes and versatility of the Santa Teresa 1796 rum. Personally, I wanted something that reflected the beach culture of Southern California, where my brother and I spent summers with our friends and family." 

The Ocean Club

.75 oz. lime juice

1 oz. pineapple cordial

.75 oz. amaro

1.5 oz. Santa Teresa 1796

Dash of Angostura

Pour ingredients on pebble ice topped with Angostura.

Christy Pope, Midnight Rambler, Dallas

"The Apple Crisp is a perfect summer refresher combining the light and crisp apple notes from Laird's Applejack with a hint of ginger spice from Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, squeeze of a lemon, and club soda. This is an easy-breezy cocktail that requires no advance preparation, making it a family favorite, especially while vacationing at our river house in north Florida."

The Apple Crisp 

.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

.75 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

1.5 oz. Laird's Applejack

2 oz. club soda

Combine all the ingredients and garnish with a lemon wheel and ginger candy.