Top 10 Summer Cocktails

The Life

Maybe it’s because this is my first summer in 17 years that I’m not living in the south, but there’s part of me that longs for the calm of a warm Georgia night of cocktail sippin’ and front-porch sittin’.

The Saratoga meet is almost here and that longing will quickly go away as I head upstate to my favorite place in the world – heaven on earth. Luckily, all 10 of these summer cocktails are perfect no matter where you live and are especially fun to enjoy during a day at the races. Cheers!

1. Vodka-Cucumber. Nothing is quite as refreshing as a Vodka-Cucumber drink on a hot summer’s day. Both Bobby Flay's Cucumber Cocktail & Martha Stewart's Cucumber-Ginger Fizzes hit the spot!


2. Champagne Punch. I love bubbly oh so much. During the summer it’s fun to kick up a notch a typical mimosa or simple flute of champagne  – add some spirits, some fresh fruit and voila – a whole new FLAVOR.

Sparkling champagne cocktail

One bottle of champagne

3 oz grenadine

3 oz Triple Sec

2 oz brandy

Seasonal fruit (raspberries, peaches & blackberries are my favorites)

* Happily serves 8

3. Saratoga Sunrise. The official drink of the Travers Stakes is a fun twist on a Tequila Sunrise and perfect for summer brunching. The trick is to let the grenadine settle at bottom to get the layered sunrise look – hence the name.

Sipping the sunrise

¾ cup of orange juice

2 oz vodka

Splash of grenadine

Garnish with an orange slice & cherry

4. Papa Dobles. It was said that Ernest Hemingway "often worked his way through about a dozen of these lime slurpees, sometimes ordering doubles.”

Hemingway Daiquiri (Wendell T. Webber) 

2 oz white rum

¾ oz fresh lime juice

½ oz fresh grapefruit juice

½ oz

Garnish with lime wheel

5. Blanca Julep. Mint Juleps go hand-in-hand with horse racing and here’s a fun spin on a classic drink. 

Blanca Julep (Wendell T. Webber)

¾ oz fresh lime juice

½ oz simple syrup

2 ½ oz bourbon

1 oz club soda

1 cup crushed ice

Garnish with lime wedge & mint leaves 

6. Gin Hound.  I found this recipe a while ago on one of my favorite "foodie sites" – Food 52 – and thought it would be the perfect gin drink to include in a top 10 blog.

Food 52 (Mark Weinberg)

3/4 cups fresh grapefruit juice

Splash of lemon juice

4 oz gin

1 oz sweet vermouth

*Makes 2

7. Watermelon Tequila Cocktail. It’s not everyday that a recipe calls for you to puree chunks of watermelon, strain it and then freeze it in ice cube trays before blending with tequila, but this drink’s recipe does and all of the preparation will be worth it once you sit down to enjoy this refreshing concoction.

The Party Starter (Iain Bagwell)

1 seedless watermelon

2 cups blanco tequila

¾ cups of lemon juice

8. Wine. When people typically think of sangria, they most likely think of the traditional red-colored drink. This Thai-Basil Sangria boasts fun zest and beautiful golden hue.

Thai-Basil Sangria (Food & Wine (Buff Strickland)

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup water

8 Thai basil sprigs

Zest of 1 lemon, peeled in 3-inch strips

Zest of 1 orange, peeled in 3-inch strips

2 bottles chilled Pinot Grigio

¾ cup brandy

½ cup fresh orange juice, strained


Chilled club soda

12 thin orange slices, for garnish

9. Beer. I understand that not everyone is huge fan of sugary, sweet cocktails – that’s where these exciting beer cocktails from Business Insider come into play. The Beer Berry Brample is my favorite. Try one or try all five.

Beer Berry Bramble (Sydney Kramer)

3 blackberries and 3 pitted cherries, plus more for garnish
4 ounces dry gin
Juice of 2 lemons
2 ounces simple syrup
12 oz. berry flavored wheat beer
*Serves 2

10. Bloody Marys. No Sunday brunch, especially during the summer, is complete without the addition of a bloody or three. Having a bunch of friends over? Make your own drink bars – they’re fun!

Make Your Own Bloody Bar (FoodieCrush) 

  • Spirits
    • Vodka (most popular)
    • Gin
    • Tequila
    • Bourbon
    • Or whatever spirit that creates the concoction your heart desires
  • Sauces
    • Tabasco
    • Lemon juice
    • Lime juice
    • Olive brine
    • Pickle juice
  • Trimmings
    • Olives
    • Pickles
    • Celery
    • Garlic
    • Horseradish
    • Jalapenos
  • Utensils
    • Toothpicks
    • Spears
    • Long spoons

Whatever you choose to put in your Bloody Mary – have fun with it.

Cheers! Make sure to order one of these fun summer cocktails this summer while you’re out at the races. What’s your favorite summer adult beverage?

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!