13 Must-Try Summer Cocktails in New York City

By Gabi Porter  |  July 30, 2013

Like every other season, summertime is cocktail time in the Big Apple, but during the hot months you’ll want to sip on libations that are a little lighter and more tropical than usual. We scoured the restaurant scene looking for the best new cocktails served around town and came up with this list of 13 stiff options. Click through to see which are hitting the spot this season - and don’t drink them all at once.

  • El Toro Blanco - Hasta Mañana

    Josh Capon's El Toro Blanco is showing Downtown drinkers a pretty good time these days, and this summer they're making things even more fun with Chrissy Hassel's latest margarita variation, the Hasta Mañana. Blanco tequila is infused with green bell pepper and mixed with fresh housemade sour mix (lemon juice and agave), and it's all shaken up with a little habanero tincture for spice. Muy caliente, and there's a nice tart, pucker factor.

  • Aska - Ramos Gin Spritz

    Classically, a Ramos Gin Fizz would be made with foamy egg whites, so vigorously shaken that in New Orleans they would start the shaking at one end of the bar and pass it along to the other and end with each bartender taking a turn to get the right consistency. Shiraz Noor tossed that right out the window with this variation. He uses lactic acid for the creamy mouthfeel and carbonates each drink to order. For sweetness he uses a flower syrup he makes with chrysanthemum, roses, lavender, yarrow flowers and a few other secrets.

  • The Counting Room - Past Lives of Martyred Saints

    This is the only stirred and boozy drink on our summer roundup, and with the one-two punch of amaro and bitters, it keeps things refreshing. (And frankly, it's always summertime when gin is involved.) Maksym Pazuniak combines two kinds of gin, St George's and Hayman's (an Old Tom style that's a little sweeter than regular gin), with vermouth, Braulio Amaro Alpino, and a few dashes of dandelion and burdock bitters for this nuanced amber concoction.

  • Battery & Harris - Purple Harris

    Williamsburg's Loreley may have closed its doors permanently post-Sandy, but much to our relief the summer fun vibes continue at Battery & Harris. An outdoor-friendly menu of lots of grilled goodness is augmented by an impressive cocktail list created by Saul Ranella, formerly the international beverage director for Gaston Acurio's La Mar Cebicheria. The man knows his way around pisco. We particularly loved his playful Purple Harris, a frozen cocktail he makes with his own chicha morada (a Peruvian beer made from purple corn) and passion fruit.

  • Desnuda - The Locust

    We've been big fans of the new outpost in Williamsburg since it opened, but the thing that has brought us back time and time again is Chaim Dauermann's cocktail list. At this point we've tried 'em all, and they're all winners. We're singling out the Locust for sheer wacky weirdness that works in defiance of its specs. It's tequila, amaretto (yes, amaretto) and apricot eau-de-vie with cilantro, lime juice and beer. Not sold? Trust us, try it. It's the strangest play on a michelada ever, and it's completely delicious.

  • Cole's - Lime & Parsley Mojito

    Johnny Swet's version of a mojito is a lot less sweet than any mojito we've ever tried, and that's a good thing. The parsley gives a fresh brightness to this tart little libation, and when it comes to enjoyment, it doesn't hurt that the atmosphere at Cole's is warm and welcoming. Go by and have a few - you'll be in good hands.

  • Melibea - A Place on the Dark Side

    Raphael Reyes has created an elegant cocktail list at this new venture from Jesus Nuñez. We saddled up to the bar with some venison moussaka and asked them to shake a Place on the Dark Side for us. With Milagro añejo, chrysanthemum tincture (are we spotting a chrysanthemum trend?), a spiced African syrup, and fresh lime and ginger juices, this drink is delicately sweet and very ladylike with its pansy garnish. What's better than a great tequila drink in the summertime? Nothing!

  • Glady's - Corn and Oil

    We took a fieldtrip out to Crown Heights to check out the new scene on Franklin Avenue, and this charming spot made us immediately want to pack up and move there stat. The food is outrageously good, much of it fired on a wood-burning grill, and it has a serious cocktail program to complement the menu. We saw a bottle of Fernet Vallet (Mexican fernet) behind the bar and started to jump up and down with excitement, so when they offered to make a Corn and Oil with the syrupy stuff, we couldn't refuse. They mix it with a dark rum and a housemade falernum, and the combo tastes nearly like Dr Pepper.

  • Los Americanos - Cuzco Hummingbird

    This latest outpost from some of the guys from Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. brings a Latin influence to Church Street with a menu that spans the entirety of Latin America. It's a cozy spot that looks like a diner, but churns out significantly better food and drink. We ordered some of its excellent guacamole, which we scooped up with fried plaintain strips, and asked for a Cuzco Hummingbird. Moses LaBoy created the drinks here, and we like what the man does with a swizzle. The Cuzco Hummingbird is a pisco drink that leans toward tiki and is made with a sweet coca leaf tea, mint and fresh lemon, and it goes down easy on a summer afternoon.

  • Macao Trading Co. - Gola Lola

    At Macao it's always party time, and no better drink on its seasonal menu reflects this than the Gola Lola. A little bit cheeky, a little bit tiki, the cocktail is named after staffer Lola. We'll leave it up to you to ask the bartenders what "Gola" means in Serbian. The drink features gin, muddled grapefruit, lime juice and a little agave nectar, so it's a little more distinguished than your typical rum tiki drink and a lot less sweet.

  • The Butterfly - Grasshopper

    Eben Freeman wanted to make us every drink on the menu other than this one when we dropped by to try his new cocktails at this TriBeCa arrival, but we honed in on this like a divining rod in a desert. Let it be said, we un-ironically love the Grasshopper and all the retro cocktails our moms and grandmas used to love way back when, so when we saw it on the menu we pleaded with wide eyes, "Give me that one!" Freeman updates his version with good booze and a clarified milk punch, a little Fernet for interest and a little orange juice for acid (it works, we promise). The drink arrives in front of you clear, and if you chose the "white" version that's that, but if you ordered the "green" version you'll get a dropper full of green creme de menthe to turn the drink the "proper" color.

  • Pegu Club - Phuket Sour

    The head barman Kenta Goto describes this cocktail on the menu as a "beach vacation in Thailand," but somehow we think his travel budget might be bigger than ours, because this is definitely more expensive and elegant resort than youth hostel flop house. Don't be fooled by the categorization of "sour," which is really just a kind of cocktail with citrus - this drink is not very sour. Lemongrass-infused gin is rounded out with lime juice, coconut water and lychee for a lovely, soft drink that is just sweet enough and just sour enough.

  • Uncle Boons - Beer Slushie 

    The only thing louder than the steady whir of the ice bath that keeps the beer at this new Thai hot spot at a just-above-freezing temperature is the buzz you'll get after downing a few on a hot summer day. Nothing is added to this bottle of beer once its popped open, except for a neon bendy straw that you can use to slurp up every last bit of slush. The drink is surprisingly refreshing and simple - it's a shame more bars don't whip out the ice bath and keep these adult snow slushes coming.