Summer cocktails should be cooling, not cloying, so this may come as a surprise: It’s time to add spice to your summer bar repertoire.
It may sound counterintuitive, but adding a bit of heat to summer drinks can kick up the flavor without overpowering the palate. Chili peppers can offset the fruity flavors in a spritz; while a handful of Chinese cuisine-inspired five-spice can liven up a Mai Tai with sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami flavors (count ‘em — five). Even the classic Daiquiri, a VinePair staff favorite this summer, is brightened up with a spicy, herbal liqueur.
Need some inspiration? Add some extra heat to your summer with these nine spicy cocktails from VinePair’s recipe library, perfect for sipping after a day in the sun.
Brown sugar syrup is the perfect complement to aromatic serrano pepper and Tajín in this boozy cocktail. Combine reposado tequila with lime juice, mandarin juice, brown sugar syrup, and serrano pepper. Rim your favorite glass with Tajín, garnish with a serrano, and enjoy!
Spice up your spritz! Shake together tequila, lime juice, strawberry syrup, serrano chili, and sliced strawberries. Strain into a wine glass, top with soda. The result is a festive, warm-weather aperitif.
Fragrant jalapeño is the perfect foil for sweet, refreshing watermelon in this cocktail. To make one at home, mix tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, watermelon juice, and jalapeño in a shaker. Strain over ice, and garnish with jalapeño slices and a lime wheel.
This Mai Tai variation combines five-spice with the tropical flavors of the classic tiki drink. Combine white rum with lime juice, orange juice, triple sec, and five-spice syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake, strain over crushed ice, and float aromatic bitters on top. And, if you want to get extra fancy, top your glass with a rosemary garnish, toasted over an open flame.
A little kick brings out the earthiness of tequila in this balanced Margarita riff. Shake together tequila, Citrónage Lime, lime juice, red chili pepper, and a pinch of turmeric. The result is a refreshing elixir that’s part health juice, part cocktail.
This Daiquiri variation is crafted with Ancho Reyes Verde, a spicy liqueur made from poblano peppers. Combine the liqueur with rum, lime juice, and simple syrup for a subtly spicy sipper that will transport you to Puebla.
Blackberry and jalapeño star in this riff on the Margarita. Fill your cocktail shaker with tequila, lime juice, blackberries, jalapeño, agave nectar, and ice. Shake, strain into a salted glass, and sip by the pool. (Thank us later.)
Your French press isn’t just for coffee anymore. This Caribbean-style cocktail is infused in a French press, marinating in aromatic flavors. Add Jamaican rum, toasted coconut, Grand Marnier, pineapple, lime, simple syrup, toasted coconut, sliced jalapeño, mint leaves, and a cinnamon stick to a French press, and let the mixture infuse. Strain over ice, garnish with a mint or pineapple leaf, and sip on a hot day.
Serrano pepper and Tajín add some heat to this chilled drink. The sweetness of agave nectar and strawberries, and the natural, green flavors of tequila, give this cocktail its balanced flavor. The result is a bright, sessionable cocktail you’ll want to pair with tacos.