Well-Stirred

Unexpectedly Refreshing Drinks for the Dog Days of Summer

How to get the most out of the darker, heavier liquor getting dusty on your bar cart.

summer cocktails
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Sweltering weather doesn’t mean you have to neglect a whole section of your bar or that stout that’s been in your fridge from when you could wear a light jacket (and had places to wear it). Summer always brings the neutral grain spirits to the forefront and a dire need to spritz absolutely everything. Please, keep enjoying your White Claws and Aperol Spritzes, but let’s whip out the darker and heavier liquor getting dusty.

We already showed you how Cognac can be as refreshing as it is powerful, and it’s not alone with this duality. Scotch, stouts, dark rum, and even the often-intimidating absinthe are just a couple of ingredients away from inspiring a commercial-worthy “Ah.”

Scotch and Coconut Water

Caribbean heritage has its perks, from a flair for rich, colorful pageantry to knowing when a day requires a Scotch and Coconut Water cocktail. This drink can be enjoyed with or without ice, depending on your temperament about ice in Scotch and the number on your thermostat. The ratio is 2:1 coconut water to Scotch, but you can adjust this based on personal preference.

Personally, the peatier, smokier Scotches really come alive in this drink, but this can be a divisive choice. For the simple drinkability you’re looking for when 98 degrees is a way of life, not just a boy band, a mellow blended Scotch or the sweetness of bourbon can get you there. Variations from island to island throw in lime juice and honey, but this truly doesn’t have to get complicated.

absinthe cocktail
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Absinthe Cocktails

So, you bought some absinthe to make a Corpse Reviver No. 2 to get your Hemingway on back in March, and now the (likely ornate) bottle just stares back at you as you pour yet another G&T. Don’t think about any long-winded techniques or bulky apparatuses — absinthe is far from daunting and can just be shaken with ice.

It’s easy to pair with most fruit juices, especially tropical and citrus varieties. Lemonade and pineapple juice bring a balanced tartness to the lingering licorice notes. You can even use multiple mixers as long as the overall ratio is 3:1. Absinthe is about twice as strong as your average spirit, so try to limit yourself to a shot per serving.

Stout Milkshakes

No one’s telling you to stop making crisp, tart micheladas, but why not indulge a little? You’ve earned it after your 20th Zoom call this week. That rogue Guinness, peanut butter stout, or espresso-forward porter doesn’t have to feel as weighty as it normally does thanks to some frozen pals.

Chocolate and coffee ice creams work best for this drink; just throw two to three scoops in a blender and top with the stout. No blender? Make yourself a float and ask yourself why you didn’t think of this sooner.

Dark N Stormy
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Dark and Stormy

Summery rum drinks don’t start and end at tiki favorites like Pina Coladas. It’s your Wednesday afternoon party and you can be a pirate if you want to. The Dark and Stormy is essentially a Moscow Mule with dark rum and a little less ginger beer: a 2 oz shot of rum, a splash of lime juice, and 6 oz of ginger beer served over ice. Though this is traditionally a highball cocktail, we won’t tell anyone if you use a copper mug.

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J. Fergus is a lifestyle writer known for food, alcohol, cannabis, and tech coverage -- the modern rhombus of vices. Their words have graced the likes of FoodbeastTastemadeThe Manual, and Chowhound. Their words have also been known to disgrace Twitter.