Best summer drinks

I may grump and grouse and complain about Virginia’s heat and humidity (though that’s stopping this year) but nothing’s going to keep me out of the yard in the evening. There’s something to be said for watching the sun set behind the gigantic walnut tree two doors down as the firepit crackles into life. The embers are cooling from our grilled dinner, the dog’s tags are jingling as she stalks around the shed, and condensation from my cold drink drips onto the patio. Life is good. The question, of course – what drink am I holding? I’m always happiest if it can contain at least one element from my garden.

May or may not be a childhood photo of me

Lavender Lemonade

MJ’s a huge lemonade person all year long. For me it’s the perfect warm weather drink, bracing with just a hint of sweetness. You get the refreshed feeling of a Gatorade with none of the self loathing. Add in some herbage from the garden and it’s the perfect summer drink.


7 cups water
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups lemon juice (frozen concentrate is ok)
4-5 mint sprigs
3-4 lavender sprigs

Get the 7 cups of water boiling and stir in the sugar to dissolve, one to two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, mint sprigs, and lavender. I like to roll the herbage between my palms to bruise the leaves and release the oils, but that’s up to you. Let it stand for a couple hours, strain, and try not to drink it all in one sitting.

Basil Hayden’s Dad’s Day Off

As someone who’s always had mad scientist tendencies it’s probably little surprise that I’m 100% on board with the cocktail trend. This recipe is one that struck me as totally bizarre when I first read it on Drinkhacker but we quickly fell in love. Made a few for my family when we went to RI to visit and the consensus was: awesome.


1 ½ oz any good bourbon (we have Woodford Reserve in our bar and it works well)
¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (the bottled stuff will make puppies sad)
½ oz brown sugar syrup (regular simple syrup works in a pinch, but we have multiple simple syrups because everything we do is to the geek level)
1 sprig of Rosemary
Ginger Beer

Into your cocktail shaker goes the bourbon, lemon juice, and brown sugar syrup. Using your fingertips, slide the needles off the bottom 3/4 of the rosemary sprig, add ice, and shake. You want to bruise the heck out of the rosemary so it releases its flavors. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass and top with ginger beer. Feeling fancy? Garnish with the remains of the rosemary sprig.

What are your favorite summer drinks? Let me know in the comments, and in the meantime – cheers!

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