When the summer heat is so unbearable that the outside world feels like the inside of an oven, the last thing you want is a heavy winter dram. Summer calls for light, refreshing and ice cold cocktails. But if you’re a strict whiskey drinker, summer’s Frosé and slushie cocktail trends have nothing to offer you, and there aren’t many options beyond Highballs and Whiskey Sours—until now. Here, five easy ways to transform your favorite whiskey cocktail, the Old Fashioned, into a super summery drink.
Muddle Fresh Fruit Instead of Orange
In the winter, citrus is kind, but come high summer there’s an abundance of perfectly ripe fruit in season that will make your Old Fashioned sing. If you’re using bourbon, opt for stone fruit like peaches and plums (especially yellow plums like Mirabelles) or fruits from the briar patch, like blackberries and raspberries. For lighter, more honeyed whiskies like Irish whiskey, try fresh strawberries. In a mixing glass, muddle the fruit with a quarter of an ounce of simple syrup and a couple dashes of bitters, then add whiskey, top with ice and stir to incorporate. Strain with a julep strainer if you want to avoid large chunks of fruit in your cocktail.
Use Japanese Whisky or Irish Whiskey Instead of Bourbon
Both Japanese whiskies and Irish whiskies tend to be lighter than their American counterparts, making them perfect for refreshing summer cocktails like the Japanese Highball. For an Old Fashioned that’s light, floral, and malty, use a Japanese whisky like Suntory’s Toki blend, and for a tarter, drier drink, use an Irish whiskey that’s been aged in ex-sherry casks like Tyrconnell’s 10 year single malt.
Use Fruit Liqueurs Instead of Simple Syrup
For a dash of summer in your Old Fashioned without the chunky mess of freshly muddled fruit, simply use a fruit-infused liqueur in lieu of simple syrup. Try The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur—which pairs perfectly with ex-sherry cask Irish whiskeys—or pair the tart flavors of Art In The Age Rhubarb Tea Liqueur with a vanilla-tinged bourbon. Just remember that the higher the quality of liqueur, the less saccharine and more fruit-forward your Old Fashioned will be.
Use Crushed Ice Instead of Cubed Ice
Large, cubed ice is traditionally used in an Old Fashioned because it melts slowly, thereby only gradually diluting your drink. But when it’s 95 degrees outside with 90 percent humidity, the last thing you want is slow-melting ice. You want something cold and refreshing. Chill your rocks glass in the freezer while you mix your Old Fashioned, then fill it with crushed ice instead of cubed. Poured over frosty, melty crushed ice, your Old Fashioned will be akin to crushable summer sippers like the Julep.
Opt for Herbs as a Garnish
Fresh herbs are an easy way to spruce up an Old Fashioned come summer. They not only make your drink more refreshing and light, but they also add a garden-to-glass freshness that pairs perfectly with summer fruits and fruit liqueurs. Opt for savory herbs like tarragon, rosemary or thyme. To highlight the herbs’ aromatics in the cocktail, simply smack the herb gently between your palms before garnishing the drink.