It might not seem like it, but summer is pretty much here. Sure, in this strange new normal we’re all living in, the thought of a summer filled with days at the beach, barbecues with friends, and afternoons spent sipping beer flights at our favorite local breweries seems like more of a fever-dream than a potential reality. Summer 2020 will be spent social distancing from friends and family, wearing masks, and spending far more time at home than we’d like.
If you’re planning on getting your summery booze on, you’re probably going to need to restock your liquor cabinet. Odds are you’ve pillaged it over the last few months while working from home. To help you figure out the best seasonal bottles to purchase, we’ve asked some of our favorite bartenders for help. They were kind enough to tell us the one bottle of booze they always keep on hand in the summertime.
Rum Haven Coconut Rum
Christopher Chamberlain, national beverage development Manager for E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto, California
If you don’t have a bottle of Rum Haven Coconut Rum in your pantry, you are doing yourself a disservice. Crafted with real coconut water, it not only offers you the ability to turn most classic recipes into a refreshing tropical libation, but upgrades the staple summer go-to’s such as the pina colada, mojito, and spritz. Simply said, “coconut is the new vanilla,” and this rum can do wonders as either a base spirit or true coconut-flavored modifier.
Jasmin Osorio, bartender at R&D in Philadelphia
Gin is the perfect summer spirit, even better yet is a bottle of Bluecoat Gin. The aroma alone is enough to get me salivating. It’s distilled five times and made with certified botanicals. Pair that with a good quality tonic and that may be all that you need. That’s my summer style. Simple and delicious. If you want to go a bit further this particular gin makes it easy to do so. Being citrus-forward, it mixes brilliantly with drinks like a Tom Collins or a French 75.
Shaun Traxler, bartender at Vault in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Having had the pleasure of working with Caravedo a couple of times over the years, I’ve grown to love not only the juice in the bottle, but the people behind it. Their entire catalog sets a benchmark for the category and each sub-category within pisco. It also has a soft spot in my heart due to it being the first pisco I had ever tasted. It was love at first sip. I honestly didn’t know such a product existed and was absolutely delighted to find something so geared toward the way I love to make cocktails.
Russian Standard Platinum Vodka
Hay Culham, beverage manager at Bonsai at Hilton Pensacola Beach in Pensacola, Florida
If you have never tried Russian Standard Platinum, you are missing out. It is by far the smoothest vodka I have ever tried. Just pour it over some rocks or pull it straight out of the freezer and drink it neat. You will not regret it.
Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
Gravy Thomas, global advocacy and ambassador community manager at William Grant & Sons
Everyone should try Sailor Jerry Spiced rum, of course. This summer, we released a new limited-edition bottle wrap to commemorate our partnership with the USO. The new bottle wrap exemplifies Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins’ spirit. Over the last seven years, we have donated over $1,000,000 to military-related causes.
Natasha Bahrami, owner of The Gin Room in St. Louis
Mezcal has been our spirit of the summer. As a gin lover, mezcal has all the agave goodness with nuances from the range of terroir that resemble botanicals you would find in a savory gin. Mezcal Vago is one of the top brands out there. Very producer/ family-focused, striving for sustainability, and has a strong focus on education of agave culture and history.
Could easily pick up any bottle they put out and fall in love with mezcal.
Jessie Smyth, bar director at Genever in Los Angeles
I think everyone needs a good wine-based aperitif in the summer like Lillet. Not only can you use it in place of dry vermouth in your summertime martini, but I have been making a lot of split based drinks- instead of using two-ounces of gin in a collins or a gimlet, I’ll do one-ounce gin and one-ounce Lillet. It lightens the drink in ABV, but also offers nice floral notes and makes for a super refreshing summertime beverage.
Elvelo Blanco Tequila
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Delicious Highland Tequila from El Velo 89pf Wonderful agave flavor with pepper and minerality. Price point is good too! #agave #tequila #highlandtequila #westloop #westloopchicago #tequilabar #mezcal #mezcalbar #margarita #bartender #agavebekiddingme #fuckmeillhaveanother #elvelotequila
Brandon Cummins, director of education for Altamar Brands
For me (I can’t pick just one!), it would be either Elvelo Blanco Tequila or Probitas Rum. Both are super versatile in just about any style of cocktail, have tons of flavor and character, and they both adhere to a no additives philosophy, which is super important to me.
Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles
If you are looking to splurge a little bit, I would recommend Carbonadi Vodka. Vodka, in general, is a very versatile spirit so you have plenty of options for mixed drinks. It also happens to be very refreshing and perfect for summer. There are so many easy drinks you can make with vodka during the summer — from mules to a simple vodka soda and, if you want to drink it straight or with a little ice, Carbonadi will cover all your needs. Their distillation process is what makes the vodka so special.
It’s clean, easy to drink, and makes any mixed drink taste like heaven.
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Today we were supposed to be in 🇧🇷. Been playing with caipirinha variations. I’ve discovered I much prefer holding the sugar, and muddling the limes with Velvet Falernum. Peychaud’s bitters also add balance and complexity to the drink. I didn’t have any for this one, but cilantro goes great too. Saúde! #cachaça #cachaçeiro #velvetfalernum #hausalpenz
Ryan Negley, whiskey fellow at Boulder Spirits in Boulder, Colorado
I don’t think a summer can be complete without a having a proper tiki cocktail. And if you’re going to tiki, you have to have a bottle of Velvet Falernum. It’s a spiced sugarcane liqueur with lime and ginger.
Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami
Campari. While being bold and on the bitter side when flying solo, Campari and soda with an orange wedge is so refreshing. Throw in a bit of sweet vermouth to make an Americano – a perfect low-ABV cocktail if it’s too early for a negroni.
La Diablada Pisco
Jesse Cyr, bartender at Foreign National in Seattle
This one of my favorite piscos because of the intense tropical and floral notes. Since they ferment the grape juice after the first press, you get so much of the freshness and essence from the fruit. I love using it in stirred cocktails when I want something bright and provocative.
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice Gin
Sebastian Derbomez, brand advocacy Manager at William Grant & Sons
Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice, the new addition to the Hendrick’s Gin family. It is a refreshing take on the classic Hendrick’s Gin. This gin is a tribute to the Midsummer Solstice, using a secret selection of flowers essences, Lesley Gracie the master distiller, has created a gin with an intensely floral bouquet that blossom on the palate.