The Best Summer Cocktails

Recipes for refreshing drinks made with gin, Aperol, vermouth or Campari.
 

Cocktails shot at Bridgette Bar in Calgary. Photograph by Jared Sych.

The best drinks this season are those that keep things simple and light. Switch out spicy garnishes and heavier or cream-based liqueurs for floral gins, tart apértifs and fresh ingredients.

Gin

Photograph courtesy of Ampersand Distilling Company.

The light, botanical flavour of gin makes it a go-to for summer drinks. Distillers are creating unique blends made from a variety of different—often local—botanicals. Notes of juniper, coriander and fresh lemon peel make Ampersand Distilling Company’s Gin, from Vancouver Island, a sweet and refreshing option for summer cocktails.

Try: Strawberry Basil Gin Smash | Gin + Strawberries + Basil + Sugar + Lime + Ginger Ale

Aperol

Photograph courtesy of Aperol.

Aperol can be mixed with soda and prosecco for a refreshing spritz—the Aperol Spritz has become a summer go-to in recent years. And while it is often compared and confused with Campari, Aperol is lower in alcohol. At 11 per cent, it’s about half as potent, and makes for sweeter and fruitier drinks.

Try: Paper Plane | Aperol + Bourbon + Amaro + Lemon Juice

Vermouth

Photograph courtesy of Dolin.

This fortified wine gets its aromatic flavour from a combination of herbs and botanicals, including wormwood and star anise. Dry, sweet and blanc are the most common types of vermouth used in cocktails. Opt for a classic such as Dolin Vermouth De Chambery Dry, a crispy white vermouth from France with floral notes.

Try: Astoria | Vermouth + Gin + Orange Bitter + Lemon Peel

Campari

Photograph courtesy of Campari.

The recipe for this crimson-hued Italian aperitif is notoriously kept secret, but the unique mix of herbs and fruits that gives it its distinct, bittersweet flavour is thought to include orange and rhubarb. Add soda and you have an instant, refreshing cocktail. It also mixes beautifully with fresh garnishes and other alcohols.

Try: The Americano | Campari + Sweet Vermouth + Soda Water

[This story appears in the July 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]