Proclaiming an official drink of the summer is a big deal. There’s a rich, 200-year history of popular summer drinks — we even documented it in a two–part series — so the pressure to continue the legacy by naming one iconic, era-defining libation each year is real. Even though the jury is still out on what drink defined the summer of 2023, there are definitely some notable contenders. Chillable red wines took over wine bars and shop shelves, the spritz has maintained its casual, easy-drinking appeal, and there’s no denying the ubiquitous presence of the Martini in all its forms.
When others look back at this summer, who knows what they’ll remember? But for the VinePair staff, these are the drinks that made an impression.
“I definitely made more Gimlets this summer than ever before. Sure, they’re a little less sessionable than hard seltzer or Mexican lager, but they’re still very refreshing in the right setting.” —Joanna Sciarrino, editor in chief
“This summer, I really dove head first into exploring mezcal, and found my new favorite cocktail. Lucky for me, it’s created and served at my favorite bar and restaurant in Montauk, 668 The Gig Shack. The Smokey Medina: mezcal, tangerine juice, hibiscus, habanero bitters with an orange slice, and plenty of Tajín on the rim. Will be replicating this drink until the end of time.” —Lyndsey Corin, director, brand partnerships and sales
“For going on a decade, Ameztoi’s Txakolina rosé has been one of my go-to summer drinks, but for some reason I never drank all that much of their white Txakolina. I grabbed a bottle in June while picking up some of the rosé and I’m glad I did. As much as I’ve loved that rosé, something about the even brighter and zippier white just clicked for me this summer. I’ve probably gone through an entire case, with one last bottle shared with my family over Labor Day weekend.” —Josh Malin, president & co-founder
“My drink of the summer this summer was probably a standard rum Daiquiri — shaken, not frozen. I got on such a kick after making one for myself at home in late June that I made it a mission to try as many as possible. The combination of rum, lime juice, and just a hint of sweetness is so perfect for hot summer days, I’m sad to be leaving them behind soon.” —Olivia White, editorial assistant
“I have always been a strong proponent of chilled red wines and darker rosés. There’s something about their juicy, fruit-forward flavors and bright acidity that hits different than a white wine or a lighter rosé. Some favorites from this summer included the Johan Vineyards Zweigelt, Laura Lardy Gourde à Gamay, and the Sergio Drago Nero d’Avola rosé I enjoyed at Rolo’s with the life-changing, two-sheet lasagne verde. The ultimate summer moment, though, was probably checking out the back patio at Brooklyn’s new Frog Wine bar with some punchy, easy-drinking Claus Preisinger Rózsa Libre! rosé” —Hannah Staab, assistant editor
“After years of ordering my Martinis dirty and gin-based, the VP staff has somehow managed to convert me (and by somehow, I mean by handing me coupe after coupe containing their preferred specs). Since then, an ice-cold vodka Martini with a twist has been my go-to nightcap on sweaty summer nights — and a chic supplement to my rattling AC. I’ve currently got Harridan Midsummer Reserve stashed in my freezer for when the mood strikes.” —Taylore Glynn, senior editor
“Not sure if it’s the most ‘summery’ drink, but I have been really into vermouth spritzes. I’m not big on classic cocktails and like to order off the menu, but this is always a great go-to for a second or third drink when I want something light and refreshing! It’s funny, I was just in Montreal and ordered this at a restaurant, and the server told me he had never heard of it before and had to try it next time he has a drink.” —Danielle Grinberg, art director
“The Campari Spritz was my drink of the summer. I was traveling around Italy and I got sick of Aperol Spritzes pretty fast, so the Campari Spritz took its place. So refreshing but not sweet like some other spritzes, so it never steered me wrong.” —Caroline Pereira, associate manager of integrated marketing
“The Painkiller was my summer drink this year. I’m a sucker for anything with pineapple juice and coconut cream, and this cocktail’s a nice change of pace from Piña Coladas. Put a few drops of Bitters Lab’s Pineapple Clove Bitters in one of these and you’re good to go.” —Pete O’Connell, intern
“Chilled red wines. Period.” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“My drink of summer was a pineapple Daiquiri. It gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with using a blend of rums in my daiquiris, brought an interesting dimension to one of my favorite cocktails, and looked really cool in the glass!” —Zach Geballe, co-host, VinePair Podcast
“My drink of the summer was a Mezcal Negroni. I ‘didn’t like’ Negronis before because I’m not much of a gin fan, but changing up the spirits got me into this cocktail.” —Geo Rivera, photography assistant