Sipping in the sunshine: easy summer cocktail recipes


Katy Leverett (she/her) recommends some delicious cocktail and mocktail recipes to try out in the sun

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By Katy Leverett

The academic year is almost over, and the sun is shining. That can only mean one thing: it’s time to sit out in the garden to read a good book, catch up with friends and get some food on the barbecue. To accompany this, a nice aperitif, maybe a Pimms a glass of wine, or a can of beer. But why not take this to a new level and branch out into a vast array of summery cocktails and mock-tails that are out there to try? Below are a few of my favourites, tried and tested, from a wide variety of sources that are easy to make at home.

Pimms Cup Float: This unique take on a summertime classic has garnered much attention on social media, but this is based upon Saucy Kitchens’ recipe. Take your classic Pimms beverage, but add in a scoop or two of your favourite ice cream or sorbet (I would recommend vanilla or lemon) to experience Pimms in a whole new way! Add one part Pimms to two parts lemonade. Then add in a few pieces of your favourite Pimms fruits (for the float, sliced strawberries and oranges work particularly well!), and top with a scoop of lemon sorbet. Add a stripey straw (and cocktail stick umbrella if you’re feeling particularly fancy) and enjoy!

Raspberry Bellini: A prosecco-based cocktail, the raspberry bellini is a surprisingly sweet drink to enjoy in the summer sun with friends or family. This recipe is based on one found on Tesco’s recipe website, and takes around five minutes to prepare, serving six. Whilst it does require a bit more preparation, this cheap cocktail will be perfect for barbecues celebrating the end of the academic year. Add 200 grams of frozen raspberries with one tablespoon of caster sugar to a saucepan. Add a splash of water and heat until the raspberries have softened and sugar is dissolved. Press the mixture through a sieve into a jug to remove the seeds. Add chilled prosecco to the jug, stir and pour into six champagne flutes. If available, top with fresh raspberries and mint and enjoy! (This also works well served over crushed ice.) This can easily be made into a mocktail, too! Just switch out the prosecco for lemonade.

Limoncello Spritz: Next up is a relatively new cocktail on the scene. I first tried a Limoncello Spritz in Spark and have been completely obsessed ever since. Adding a citrus tang to the sharpness of prosecco, the Limoncello Spritz is an ideal palette cleanser after enjoying dinner with your housemates in the garden. Add one shot of Limoncello to a champagne flute or white wine glass. Top with chilled prosecco and (if available) a slice of lemon and sprig of mint. This works served over ice, too!

Watermelon Lemonade: Relaxing in the sun with a glass of ice cold lemonade is a summer day well spent. But why not have it with a fruity twist? Delish’s Watermelon Lemonade is the perfect summer cocktail cooler. Whilst this recipe does require a blender and some preparation, it will definitely be enjoyed, and can be easily turned into a mocktail. Add six large chunks of watermelon to your blender, with 125 grams of sugar and 145 millilitres of lemon juice. Blend until the mixture is lump-free and the sugar is dissolved. If you want to make this alcoholic, add 175 millilitres of vodka. Refrigerate for two to three hours and then serve. If you’re feeling extra fancy, rim the edge of your glasses with a lemon wedge and dip them in sugar. Fill your glasses with ice and pour the chilled watermelon lemonade over the top. Garnish with a watermelon and lemon slice and you have a restaurant-style cocktail!

Virgin Pina Colada: A Puerto Rician classic, this tropical favourite has been gracing cocktail bars as long as most can remember. Perfect to enjoy whilst soaking up the summer sun, the Pina Colada’s vibrant mix of pineapple and coconut flavours is the perfect refresher. Taken from The Spruce Eats, this recipe is completely alcohol-free, making it a quick and easy mocktail to enjoy. Add 180 grams of frozen pineapple chunks to a blender, with 90 millilitres of coconut milk, 90 millilitres of pineapple juice and 30 grams of ice. If you want to make the mocktail a little sweeter, add one to three tablespoons of brown sugar to taste. Blend until smooth. Fill two or three glasses with ice and pour your mocktail over the top and enjoy. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a maraschino cherry. This recipe is perfect for those who don’t want to drink alcohol, but want to enjoy the vibrant flavours of cocktails.

These are just a few of a vast array of fragrant and vibrant cocktails and mocktails that are out there to try. So whether you’ll be enjoying a Pimms Float Cup topped with a cocktail umbrella at a barbecue, or a Virgin Pina Colada with a cherry to garnish at a cocktail party, there is something out there for everyone to try and enjoy. For more inspiration and ideas, check out cocktail and mocktail recipes on social media for innovative and fun takes on some of your favourite classics