When you think of the summer, what usually comes to mind are clear skies, warm temperatures, and seasonal refreshing beverages. Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink to cool you down on a hot summer day. So, when hosting a warm-weather nuptial, summer cocktails are a key element all couples should consider when planning out their big day.
“Summer is a wonderful season for cocktails, as well as weddings, so nearlyweds have some spectacular options for wedding cocktails,” shares mixologist Hannah Chamberlain. Why? Well, summer is a season full of fresh fruits and tropical flavors, everything you need for a fun and spirited wedding day drink.
Ahead, with the help of Chamberlain and mixologist Elliott Clark, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide on how to choose the best drinks for your warm-weather wedding. Plus, a breakdown of the best summer cocktail ideas you and your partner should definitely consider. Read on to learn more.
Meet the Expert
- Hannah Chamberlain is a mixologist and the creator behind Spirited LA. She has years of experience developing cocktail recipes, writing about drink history, and exploring some of the top alcohol destinations in the world.
- Elliott Clark is a mixologist and the founder of Apartment Bartender and the Apartment Creative Studio, a community of cocktail enthusiasts, home entertainers, and those who bring a spirit of hospitality to the comfort of their own homes.
How to Choose Summer Wedding Cocktails
According to Chamberlain, when initially choosing a summer wedding cocktail, couples should first figure out the flavor profile they’d like to highlight, specifically relying on the fresh fruits that are prominent during the summer months. “I recommend taking advantage of summer produce like berries, melon, and stone fruits in wedding cocktails, as well as seasonal floral or herbal garnishes,” she shares. Clark also echoes that sentiment, advising couples to “Also, consider using ingredients that are seasonally inspired by the summer, and that cover a range of palates.”
Once that’s been settled, your next step is to then think of a drink that would be enjoyable for everyone (including you and your partner) to consume. “I recommend leaning towards drinks that are both crowd pleasers (citrusy, bubbly, and refreshing, and spirit-forward drinks on the slightly sweeter side), shares Clark. “Also, drinks that are personally inspired that nod to the bride and groom are always great.”
Lastly, Chamberlain shares that all couples should take the weather into consideration, as well as the locale and venue. “Another thing to consider is that if your wedding is going to be outdoors, it likely makes more sense to lean into cocktails that are enjoyable in hot weather. Cocktails like spritzes, punches, and Palomas, which can be served tall with ice, will be more appealing and refreshing to drink in the hot sun than something like a Manhattan or martini (not to mention, safer—high-proof drinks in the heat can make for some very tipsy guests),” she notes.
The Best Summer Cocktail Ideas
As mentioned above, before honing in on any specific signature summer cocktail, it’s important to first nail down your preferred flavor profile, while also taking the weather into consideration. However, once you’ve figured all of that out, the fun part can begin (meaning, you can start putting together the drink of your dreams)!
As far as summer cocktail ideas go, Chamberlain recommends “a spritz, a sour, a Tom Collins, a gin and tonic, a mule, or a French 75.” Specifically highlighting, “Two of my personal favorites for summer events are this lavender, strawberry, and nectarine French 75, full of ripe summer fruit, florals, and celebratory champagne, and this jasmine green tea and blueberry Paloma. They’re delightfully drinkable, use seasonal produce, and are very pretty.”
Need more ideas? Clark also shares that “Variations on classic drinks like Old Fashioneds, margaritas, daiquiris, Tom Collins, or sidecars are great drinks for summer weddings. The French 75 cocktail is the quintessential celebratory cocktail too, that makes for a great welcome drink.”
Cocktails to Avoid for Summer Weddings
While there are no rules that dictate what you can and cannot serve at a summer wedding, there are a few drinks both mixologists advise against when planning your big day. To start, Clark advises couples to stay away from egg white cocktails unless the wedding is small and intimate. “They’re both labor intensive and polarizing, as many people are wary of drinks with egg white in them. Also, sipping a drink with egg in it in the dead heat isn’t really sexy,” he shares.
Chamberlain also notes, “If your reception is going to be outdoors in the heat, I recommend cocktails that aren’t entirely composed of booze: in other words, recipes that contain sodas, juices, syrups, and/or ice. This is useful for a number of reasons. One, guests may feel hot and want to drink something cooling and refreshing to beat the heat. Two, elevated temperatures might make your guests prone to dehydration, so giving them something too boozy might make them uncomfortably tipsy or even unwell. Three, stiff drinks that are designed to be served up, like martinis or Manhattan, are at their best when they’re very cold. That means they’re likely to get disappointingly warm quickly in hot weather (and no one wants to stand in the sun and try to choke down a hot coupe of gin).”
The Top Summer Spirits to Consider
Still interested in learning more? With the direct expertise of Chamberlain, we’ve listed the top spirits to consider when putting together the ultimate cocktail bar menu for your summer wedding.
- Tequila: “It’s almost universally loved and it’s delicious in many recipes suited to high temperatures (like Palomas and margaritas).”
- Rum: “It’s a great option for summer weddings that have beachy or tropical themes.”
- Cachaça: “It’s a bit of an outside-the-box choice in some regions (although it’s very popular in Brazil), but its distinctive funky flavor is memorable and exciting in refreshing citrus-heavy drinks.”
- Gin: “Gin tastes beautifully cool in summer, and its herbal, floral, and citrus notes always taste fresh and pretty. It also goes nicely with bubbles.”