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Refreshing summer cocktails and mocktails

10 Recipes
A martini with chervil and cucumber
(Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times)

10 cold adult beverages for hot summer nights

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It’s cocktail hour. It’s hot. You want a drink with the taste of summer and a bit of a kick to restore your spirit. We have recipes to quench your thirst.

The refresher is a light and bubbly Prosecco cocktail flavored with cucumber. It could be the perfect beverage for the moment. A cucumber watermelon mojito made with soju instead of rum won’t hit you quite as hard as a mojito made with actual rum. If you want something a little stronger than either of these, perhaps a cool cucumber martini, emphasis on the cool, is more your speed. If a martini sounds good but the cucumber doesn’t, try a gingertini. Replacing gin with vodka upholds the clear, floral spiciness of the ginger.

Muddling — mashing herbs and/or fruit to elicit their flavor and essential oils — and low-alcohol spirits are on trend this year. This Thaipirinha, a take on the Brazilian caipirinha, muddles basil along with limes and sugar before adding the cachaça — that light and fruity Brazilian rum — and topping it off with soda water. An IPA-lada is a take on the Mexican beer cocktail michelada. A grapefruit IPA rather than a Mexican lager gives it a welcome brightness. If wine is more your thing, a Port wine sangria is a different kind of wine cocktail, made with ginger beer.

Sometimes, rather than a potent boozy cocktail, you just want a simple, icy cold beverage. Aguas frescas to the rescue! Neither sodas nor fruit juices, aguas frescas, which hail from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, are light, subtly flavored not overly sweet drinks. Horchata is a classic agua fresca. It is made from rice that has been soaked overnight and then blended and gently flavored with cinnamon or almonds. Stunningly beautiful strawberry jamaica agua fresca is made from a vivid magenta hibiscus tea and a puree of macerated strawberries. Even simpler, a citrusy yuzu spritzer is a nice alternative to lemon or lime. The soda water softens the sharpness of yuzu’s unique tang.

Don’t let the summer heat — and this summer’s humidity — dampen your spirits. If you’re feeling wilted at the end of the day, revive yourself and your companions with one of these super pick-me-ups. Stir up a glass, or a pitcher, put your feet up and relax into the cooling evening. Ah, summer!

Thaipirinha

Sweet basil with its anise note lends a fresh, sweet-and-savory flavor to this spin on the Brazilian Caipirinha, a refreshingly simple combination of muddled limes, sugar and cachaca.
Time 6 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Gingertini

The Gingertini is made with ginger-muddled vodka, lemon juice and freshly pressed apple juice. A splash of simple syrup takes the edge off the liberal 12 slices of muddled ginger.
Time 7 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Yuzu Spritzer

Yuzu brightens this refreshing spritzer which balances sharp, spicy and smooth elements like any well-made cocktail. Fizzy and fresh, it gives a pleasure high.
Time 5 minutes
Yields Makes 1 drink

IPA-lada

Grapefruit IPA is the essential component of this refreshing michelada. Grapefruit and lemon juices brighten it. Cucumber cools and hint of sugar sweetens it. Tajin rims the glass.
Time 4 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Strawberry jamaica agua fresca

Hibiscus tea blended with strawberries and a little sugar make this stunningly pretty, deep magenta jamaica agua fresca.
Time 20 minutes
Yields Makes 2 1/2 quarts

Port wine sangria

The game-changer in this Port wine sangria is Ginger beer, as it is less sweet than oft-used lemon-lime-flavored sodas and it provides a high dynamic in flavor profile.
Time 5 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Cool Cucumber Martini

What could be cooler than an herbal cucumber martini? Muddle a handful of chervil with cucumber and lime juice and infuse it into gin with a splash of dry white vermouth. Serve chilled.
Time 10 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Horchata

A subtly flavored drink that is balanced, light-bodied and not overly sweet, many people consider horchata the most refreshing agua fresca.
Time 20 minutes
Yields Makes 2 1/2 quarts

The Refresher

A little freshly squeezed cucumber juice, a little icy cold Prosecco, a squeeze of lemon, a dash of salt, a shake of hot sauce and you have a refreshing Prosecco cocktail.
Time 15 minutes
Yields Serves 1

Cucumber Watermelon Mojito

Watermelon triangles, cucumber slices and fresh mint are muddled and mixed with soju, fresh lime juice and ginger ale, each of which contributes a needed note to balance the drink.
Time 5 minutes
Yields Serves 1