Cool Off with Fresh Summertime Cocktails


Cheers to those who work hard for the money! It’s time to relax and lift a glass, even if it’s just high enough to celebrate hard work and service to our community. Summer is the best for cocktails that feature fresh fruit and natural sweetness. I have so many drinks that I want to share, but I’ve painstakingly picked a few of my absolute favorites for that pool party or patio barbecue with friends. Luckily, Texas’ warm weather nurtures some amazing seasonal treats to help us cool down.

1. La Sandia
For starters, who doesn’t love watermelon? I’m pretty sure, at this time of year, it’s against the law to pass up a cold slice of the stuff. Some of you have mad skills in corking a melon with a bottle of your favorite clear spirit and I say, “Do it!” Let me help you put some into a glass. I proudly present the La Sandia, which was inspired by Chef Nadine Thomas of the W Hotel in Austin.


  • 3 watermelon cubes
  • 1/8 oz. of agave nectar (just a touch)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. Don Julio reposado


  1. Muddle the watermelon with the agave in a shaker glass.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice.
  3. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with ice and haloed with half a rim of salt.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge and watermelon cube. (this cocktail works with cantaloupe as well.)


2. White Peach Sangria

How about showing up to a garden or pool party with a couple jugs of sangria? Mr. Johnny Phelps of the forthcoming bar, The Silo On 7th gave me this recipe. There are tons of sangria recipes out there, but I really like this peach doozy. You can use Texas peaches until the first part of August, though frozen peaches will do just fine!


  • 1 bottle white wine (I recommend spanish)
  • 3 oz. brandy (Yes, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac!)
  • 2 oz. Paula’s texas orange liquor
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 oz. peach puree (peel peaches, remove pit and puree in a blender with a small amount of water.)
  • SLICED Fresh peaches, oranges, and apples (green and red)


  1. Place all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to mix
  2. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, or up to 48 hours
  3. Serve over ice. (Psssst, use nice jugs!)


3. Jalapeño Cucumber Lemonade

Folks have been asking for the recipe since this cocktail first bitch-slapped their taste buds! It’s spicy, but the cucumber comes in and makes everything all better. We add Titos vodka at the W Hotel, but you can totally use tequila if you want. You could also make this recipe in a big batch and just add vodka to each glass.


  • 1 1⁄2 oz. Jalapeño simple syrup
  • 2 oz. cucumber water (puree cucumbers and strain)
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. vodka or tequila
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice


  1. Combine ingredients and shake.
  2. Strain over ice in a highball glass.
  3. Garnish with a cucumber spear.


4. Fresca Mojitos

Get your watermelon out, grab some rum and mint and get to getting on a few


  • 3–5 watermelon cubes
  • 5 pieces of mint
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. rum (your choice)
  • 1⁄2 oz. lime juice (half a lime)


  1. Muddle melon and add the other ingredients in a shaker glass.
  2. Just slap the mint before adding the ice and shake.
  3. Pour into a tall glass and top with club soda.


5. Hendrick’s Goddess

Stay cool as a cucumber with this amazing gin gimlet variation.


  • 3 slices english cucumber
  • 1 1⁄2 oz. gin (preferably hendrick’s)
  • 1⁄2 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
  • 3⁄4 oz. fresh lime juice (three quarters of a lime)
  • 1⁄2 oz. simple syrup


  1. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass or serve on the rocks.
  2. Garnish with a cucumber slice.