My go-to summer drinks!

We’re headed deep into the dog days of summer here in Minny. The air is thick with humidity, the tans are that perfect deep burnished golden, and the rooftops and patios all over the city are prime hangout/people-watching locales. That said, I can’t justify a nightly happy hour, as much as I might like the thought of it, and my friends and I are getting to the point where we enjoy hanging out with cocktails on our own rooftops and patios as much as we enjoy going out!

With that in mind, we’ve spent the last several months crafting up some pretty delicious cocktails and scouting out the best beers and wines for summer drinking. Here are a few of my faves:

1.       The Bee’s Knees: I discovered this potent little concoction on a pre-Restaurant Week excursion to NorthBound Brewpub with Hannah and K-Behr. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and woodsy. Mix 2 oz gin with ¾ oz fresh lemon juice and ¾ oz “honey syrup:” a 1 to 1 blend of simple syrup and honey. Garnished with a lemon twist, it’s refreshing and totally Instagrammable.

2.       The “Grey Goose Le Fizz:” We’ve been making a slightly-adapted version of these in our family for over a year now, and they’re a hit with every family member from our grandma right on down. In a champagne flute, mix 1½ parts Grey Goose (or vodka of your choice!) with 1 part St. Germain elderflower liqueur and a squeeze of lime juice. Top off with the Prosecco of your choice (I am a lifelong devotee of LaMarca!).

3.       The Pepino: Justin Timberlake claimed this as his favorite drink once, and because Papa Schwegs is totally on his level, we drank these over Father’s Day. In a cocktail shaker, muddle a thick slice of cucumber with 3 tablespoons of silver tequila, 3 basil leaves, and 1½ tablespoons of lime juice. Add one tablespoon each of Cointreau and pineapple juice, along with half a tablespoon of agave nectar. Shake to combine, pour over ice, garnish, and Instagram. (Duh.)

4.       Grey Goose and Grapefruit: These quickly became our swim-up bar signature beverage in Mexico this March…they’re perfect for hot weather! In a beverage receptacle of your choice (we really classed it up with Solo Cups last weekend!), top off 1-2 shots of Grey Goose (or other vodka) with grapefruit juice. Mix, marvel at the simplicity, enjoy. For a little added fizz, throw some club soda or Prosecco in there…I’m of the mind that everything is better with Prosecco.

Wine-wise, I’m drinking ONLY Sancerre, crisp and chilled to perfection. Beers, on the other hand, have been a fun adventure all summer! I love fruity shandies—of course the classic Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, but for a bit of a different taste, the Jolly Traveler Illusive Shandy uses grapefruit instead of lemons for a super fun kick. I also really like 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon.

Finally, for the locals, a few of my favorite places to go when we do venture off our own rooftops:

1.       The Local. Although Nicollet Avenue is under construction, their patio is still in full swing, and if you ask your server to add vodka to the “Theobald Matthew Fizz,” you’re in for the most delicious alcoholic Creamsicle of a beverage ever.

2.       Hola Arepa. They have one of the best outdoor spaces in the Twin Cities, and their cocktails are innovative and unexpected in the best ways. I’m partial to the “Wecking Ball” and “Blood Lines.”

3.       Indeed Brewing. I’ve written about my love for Indeed many a time…I think they’re officially my favorite taproom in the Twin Cities. This summer, they’re featuring a mojito-infused version of their popular Shenanigans summer ale in the taproom, along with a few cool daily infusions with lavender and lemon, peach and hibiscus, and watermelon and basil. Definitely worth a visit!

Salut, chin-chin, cheers, whatever--here's to spending summer with a pleasant little buzz on!