The 10 Best Summer Cocktails in New York City
A guide to colorful drinks, frozen drinks, sweet drinks and fruity drinks, all of which we love
When temps soar in the city that rarely central-air conditions, there’s only one way to stay cool: sip on a refreshing summer cocktail.
Luckily, the city is replete with great options for breezy patios, swanky cocktail bars and iconic dives to enjoy with a drink in hand — but not all summer cocktails are created equal. There are some that rise above to rest, delivering the uniqueness, taste and presentation we all seek in a small glass of pseudo poison that costs nearly 20 dollars.
From icy lambrusco creations to spicy mezcal coolers, check out our list of the best summer drinks you should be sipping right now in New York City.
The Cold Brew Negroni at Veranda
The light-filled and luxurious new Veranda, situated within the ModernHaus Hotel (formerly the James), is the ideal location for a romantic date over summer cocktails. There, you’ll find inventive concoctions like the Cold Brew Negroni, perfect if you need a little pick me up. This zippy take on a cocktail classic combines gin, campari and carpano antica sweet vermouth with Veranda’s house made cold brew coffee. All of that is poured over what they call “an ice glacier.”
The Peach Mezcalero at Xilonen
A meal at this stylish vegetarian Mexican restaurant was good even before they were able to secure a liquor license, but now that booze is on tap, they’re pretty much unstoppable. One of their first new cocktails is a frozen peach mezcalero with, you guessed it, mezcal and peach. It’s given a bit of a kick thanks to serrano, as well as a drizzle of the iconic Mexican I-put-that-shit-on-everything sauce, chamoy.
The Watermelon Cooler at Kimika
We’re obsessed with the whole menu at Kimika, a Japanese-Italian spot from the same geniuses behind Wayla. Possibly the best (and most crushable) drink on the menu though is their Watermelon Cooler. Not just any old summery watermelon cocktail, this drink takes a watermelon Daiquiri and adds briny Rhum Agricole from Martinique, then tops it off with refreshing Aperol and bubbly Lambrusco (sparkling red wine). All of this is expertly balanced by a hint of Thai chili.
The Sonambula at Leyenda
The tiny-but-mighty Leyenda is known as an oasis in the concrete jungle for a variety of South American spirits. That’s why it comes as no surprise that they would concoct a drink like the popular Sonambula: jalapeño-infused blanco tequila mixed with soothing chamomile, lemon, molé and Peychaud’s bitters.
The Miami Rice at Rule of Thirds
While Rule of Thirds co-owner George Padilla calls himself a sake purist (we also suggest looking into their Bin-Bin sake pop up), he’s made an exception for their latest summer slushy cocktail, the Miami Rice. A Japanese-inspired play on the more classic Miami Vice, the cocktail uses refreshing sake kasu and nutty sesame shochu, with a strawberry purée floated on top.
The Friesling at Thief
While most cocktail establishments serve up a standard frosé, this new Williamsburg Bar right off McCarren Park is finally adding something new to the world of frozen wine cocktails. Their Friesling is exactly what it sounds like: a frozen riesling cocktail that combines riesling with Rockey’s Botanicals, white grape juice, vodka, lime juice and a splash of OJ. It’s then topped off with a frozen grape skewer to mimic the look of a classic martini.
The Cosmopolitan at Peachy’s
Fans of grungy-chic basement bars, rejoice! Peachy’s, the hip bar attached to Chinese Tuxedo on Doyers Street, has finally reopened. There, you’ll find a supremely air-conditioned space in which to enjoy their mix of classic and tiki cocktails with old school hip hop setting the evening’s tone. Our choice is their take on the iconic Cosmopolitan, which combines Suntory Haku Vodka, Dry Curaçao, aquafaba, cranberry and lime.
The King Snake Swizzle at Clover Club
You pretty much can’t go wrong ordering any cocktail at the much-loved Clover Club, but their latest round of summer cocktails might be their best yet. A standout is the King Snake Swizzle, which blends añejo tequila with rum, lime, zingy passionfruit, cinnamon, ginger and crème de peche. The new drink is their riff on the classic Cobra’s Fang — the fated cocktail that made one of their bartenders fall in love with Tiki.
The Sleep No More at Gallow Green
Come for the performances, stay for the great cocktails. Gallow Green at McKittrick Hotel is best known for Sleep No More, the avant garde, interactive theater experience for which this refreshing cocktail is named. In it, vodka mixes with elderflower and the blue-to-purple butterfly pea flowers that have been all the rage lately, as well as citrus (the magic ingredient which makes the butterfly pea flower change colors) and cider.
The Lemon-Jasmine Gin Poptail at the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar
It honestly pains us to write a recommendation for a place called “the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar,” but we must. Located at the top of the waterfront Conrad Hotel, you’ll be served with amazing views of the river that are almost as Instagram-worthy as their signature “poptails,” which feature a Mom & Icepops Boozy popsicle. The price is pretty steep, even by New York standards, but it’s worth it for the experience of watching the sun sink down as you lick a boozy ice pop swimming in Brut.
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