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    6 summer cocktail recipes to soothe the Southern California heat
    • June 13, 2024

    Grab your bathing suits, blenders and cocktail shakers.

    We reached out to some Southern California-area mixologists, both professional and amateur, and asked them to send us their favorite summer cocktail recipes — and these drinks don’t disappoint.

    Whether you’re lounging by the pool, hosting a dinner party or relaxing under the stars, these refreshing summer cocktails offer immaculate seasonal vibes and aren’t too difficult to whip up.


    Austin Buscher, bar manager at Walter’s in Claremont, says the Pepper Daisy is the perfect summer cocktail. (Courtesy of Austin Buscher)

    Pepper Daisy

    Daisies are always a great summer go-to because the orange liqueur and citrus are iconic hot-weather flavors. The habanero vodka in this drink brings a spice note that rounds out the herbal and honey notes of the Strega. — Austin Buscher, Bar Manager (a.k.a. Duke of Spirits) at Walter’s in Claremont

    Ingredients: 2 ounces Habanero Vodka, 1 ounce Orange Liqueur, 1/4 ounce Strega Liqueur, 3/4 ounce lemon juice. Throw it in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake it up, pour into coupe and garnish with a pretty flower.

    Writer and bartender Emma Schuler from Los Angeles says the best way to beat the summer heat is to curl up on a patio with a Modified Cynar Spritz. (Courtesy of Emma Schuler)

    Modified Cynar Spritz 

    As soon as the weather starts warming up, my entire hierarchy of needs is replaced by a singular drive: sit on a patio and drink a spritz. There’s no amaro (an Italian liqueur flavored with herbs) that I would scoff at mixing into a refreshing spritz, but one of my favorites is this juiced-up version of a Cynar spritz. It’s got all the depth and richness of Cynar (an artichoke amaro that’s of the more subtle and sweet variety), punched up and given a summery twist by the fruity zest of Chinola Passionfruit Liqueur. — Emma Schuler, Writer and Bartender at Accomplice Bar in Mar Vista, Los Angeles 

    In a wine glass, add: 1.5 oz Cynar, .75 oz Chinola, Fill glass with ice, give a gentle stir and top with equal parts dry sparkling wine and soda water. Garnish with grapefruit zest.

    For scientist Thomas Upton from Huntington Beach, it’s just not summertime if there’s not a freshly blended Mezcalito within reach. (Photo credit: Emily St. Martin)

    Fresh Mango Mezcalito

    Mangoes are in peak form during the summer, and fresh, flavorful fruit is always best for blended cocktails. A blended Mezcalito is perfect for summer days by the pool, with a slab of Picanha on the smoker and friends around the backyard tiki bar. Feel free to swap out the mezcal for tequila if you prefer. — Thomas Upton, Scientist, amateur mixologist, member of the of the Traeger Nation for a decade, residing in Huntington Beach

    To make 2 Mezcalitos add to a blender: 1 fresh mango, 2 shots Mezcal, a generous splash of orange juice,juice from 1 lime, raw agave syrup to taste, ice, garnish the rim with Chamoy or Tajin for savory, or Miguelito for sweet and sour.

    Writer and Southern California News Group contributor Hoda Mallone prefers summer nights to summer days, and her cocktail of choice is the Charmcraft Negroni. (Courtesy of Hoda Mallone)

    Charmcraft Negroni

    With the Summer Solstice upon us, the duality of Gemini is on full display in this cocktail’s bittersweet and herbal notes, which pair perfectly with the bittersweet tones of the Tarot. Some live for summer days, but to me, the perfect summer night is sipping a Charmcraft Negroni and pulling major arcana under the stars. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a visit from the High Priestess. — Hoda Mallone, Writer from Manhattan Beach

    Ingredients: 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 ounce Campari (I prefer to up the gin and lower the Campari slightly, but to each their own.) Garnish with an orange peel and pour over ice.


    Giuseppe “Joey” Mancuso, owner of Barcuso in Downtown Upland says Old Blues Eyes, named after Frank Sinatra, is the perfect seasonal cocktail. (Photo credit: Emily St. Martin)

    Old Blue Eyes

    Named after Frank Sinatra himself, this cocktail will have you back on top in June! Enjoy this cocktail my way, alongside a fresh pizza drizzled with hot honey or next to a firepit with some jukebox tunes and a cigar. — Giuseppe “Joey” Mancuso, owner of Barcuso in Downtown Upland

    In a cocktail shaker add: 2 ounces Empress Gin, 1 ounce Lemon Juice, 1 tablespoon of Blueberry Purée, add ice to shaker and shake, strain over ice, top off with sprite and add 2 blueberries for garnish.

    Rebecca Lucas, an audiobook narrator from Pasadena, loves to relax in the summer with a classic cocktail, the Bee’s Knees. (Courtesy of Rebecca Lucas)

    Bee’s Knees

    The Bee’s Knees is my go-to summer drink. There’s a reason it’s a classic: it’s simple and easy to make, crisp and refreshing like a grown-up lemonade. It’s also a cocktail that’s fun to riff on, like adding lavender or thyme to the honey syrup or just swapping out the honey syrup for bärenjäger (a spiced honey-flavored liqueur made in Germany). — Rebecca Lucas, audiobook narrator from Pasadena and this reporter’s personal bartender (and sister)

    Ingredients: 2 ounces gin, 3/4 ounce Lemon Juice,1/2 ounce Honey. Mix ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake it up, pour into coupe and garnish with lemon.

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    ​ Orange County Register