Dipsology: Beyond The Basics – Using Summer as the Excuse to Explore New Flavors

Some supreme suggestions for summer sipping.

With Memorial Day’s arrival, you have the unofficial launch of the summer season. Schools have finished (or are almost finished), Hollywood is ramping up its blockbuster season, and the winter sports are wrapping up their championships. Travel times are in the cards for many, and weekends are set to be crammed with either full schedules of activities or hours set aside for sheer relaxation.

This is the perfect time to set your sights on some exciting summer sipping fare. Whether it is a pool party setting or a cookout, or if the family is dropping in from out of town, this is a great period to trot out some new mixtures. The warmer temperatures beg for liquid relief, and there is a wealth of ingredients available this time of year. Also helpful are longer hours, so prep time can be employed in order to accommodate a crowd when necessary.

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Ripe For Experimentation

Fresh fruits are the dominating choice, as they provide for larger quantities and a boost of sugars, so these can serve as replenishment options in hotter temperatures. One of the benefits is that grocers are filled with a bumper crop of choices, and the produce is fresh. This is the chance to look at interesting combinations you might not immediately consider, and this can lend itself to satisfying results.

What is fun is hitting upon a recipe and then increasing the ingredient amounts based on your crowd size. Clear some counter space in order to be productive, sharpen the knives for both ingredients and garnishes, and let the enjoyment rip. Don’t be worried about tact, and be willing to go with plastic drinkware; pool environments and heavy condensation levels can make possession of cocktails more challenging, plus casual fashions are not going to demand high-class services.

Get in the summer spirit by mixing in these summer spirits.



Most people regard this wine punch as a vibrantly red concoction, but it is time to think differently. Instead of the premade bottled options, consider instead a lighter choice with newer additives. Start out with a white wine base instead, and then go with a fruit selection that is different from what’s expected. Pineapples, strawberries, and/or cantaloupe can lend a whole new flavor profile. 

Don’t go too expensive on the wine, as it is going to become altered significantly. Use this recipe as a guideline, not a hard blueprint. Be willing to adjust anything to your taste.

  • 2  Bottles-750ml White wine (Chardonnay, Riesling, white Pinot Grigio)
  • ½ Cup Vodka
  • ¼ Cup Triple Sec
  • ¼ Cup Sugar
  • 2 Liter bottle of Lemon-Lime Soda
  • Fruit Variety, Cut

In a pitcher add the sugar Vodka, Triple sec, and ¼ bottle of wine. Mix well to dissolve sugar, then add half of the desired fruit, muddled slightly. Set in the fridge for 1-2 hours. In a larger serving vessel, pour the mixture and add the remaining wine. Add the balance of the fruit. Just before serving, pour in the lime soda to fill. Lastly, stir slightly to retain some carbonation.

Rainbow Sangria. Credit: Brad Slager, used with permission



A great mixture for a Luau setting, for watching “Shark Week,” or even a “Sharknado” marathon party. You can increase the amounts to serve on a larger scale, if more of a crowd shows up.

  • 2 oz. Citrus or Tropical-flavored Vodka
  • 1.5 oz. Coconut Rum
  • 1 oz. Blue Curacao
  • 3 oz. Club Soda
  • Grenadine 

Mix the first four ingredients in a Collins glass and stir. Drizzle grenadine on the top as it “bleeds” into the mixture. Garnish with a gummy shark.



Another tropical-evoking mix that puts to use the Caribbean cordial Falernum, which demands to be a staple in your bar. The citrusy-spice liqueur is always a welcome component in a number of drinks.

  • 1 Shot Dark Rum
  • 1 Shot Light Rum
  •  ½ Shot Falernum
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • 2 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • ½ oz. Lime Juice
  • 3 Dashes Bitters

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice; pour into double-Old Fashioned glass


This variation may strike some as off, but the mint and melon make for a great marriage of flavors.

  • ½ Cup Cubed Watermelon
  • 2 oz. White Rum
  • 3-4 Springs Mint
  • ½ oz. Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 4 oz. Lemon-Lime Soda

In a bowl, crush the watermelon well, then strain the juice into tall glass. Add four to six mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice. Muddle the leaves well. Add ice, pour in rum, then fill with soda. Stir well and garnish with a mint sprig and watermelon cube.

Watermelon Mojito Cocktail. Credit: Brad Slager, used with permission


This is a fruity and tart classic that keeps you guessing with a mixture of flavors that should not work, and entirely works at the same time.

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Lemon Juice
  • ½ oz. Simple Syrup
  • 2 Dashes Bitters
  • 2 oz. Ginger Beer
  • 2 Strawberries

In a shaker, muddle one chopped strawberry with the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add the bourbon and ice; shake well for 30 seconds. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice, then fill with the ginger beer. Garnish with a strawberry.



This is a completely different option that will surprise most who try it for the first time. It is bracing with some interesting flavors.

  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • ¾ oz. Simple Syrup
  • Hot Sauce
  • Club Soda
  • 4 thin slices of Cucumber

In a shaker, add all ingredients except for club soda, with three dashes hot sauce and three cucumber slices. Muddle well and add ice. Shake well and strain over ice in Old Fashioned glass. Add club soda and garnish with cucumber slice. Add more hot sauce to taste.


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