Classic summer cocktails have the special ability to make you feel as though you’re on vacation, helping satiate wanderlust after a long year in lockdown. Order an Aperol Spritz and channel the vibes of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, with images of the craggy seaside cliffs and punch-colored umbrellas studding the beach. Likewise, a tiki drink transports your tastebuds to the tropics and a well-crafted spicy margarita can hold you over until your next Mexican vacation.
From frozen cocktails to fruit-forward drinks to herbaceous libations, we’ve rounded up some of the tastiest summer sips that you can find in and around Boulder. Some of these make limited-time cameos on summer cocktail menus; others are year-round staples, but feel especially apropos for summer.
Here are the 12 craft cocktails that we think do a good job evoking summer vibes (no pool required; but a patio soaked in Colorado’s famous sunshine is highly recommended).
Upstairs Cocktail Lounge: Jack the Giant Slayer and In Time of Marigolds
1039 Pearl Street, Suite B in Boulder
Jack the Giant Slayer
Green bean-infused Reyka vodka mixes with house-made orgeat (an almond milk syrup), lemon juice and green bean syrup to make a delightfully vegetal cocktail. “It’s shaken with a salted egg white to form a beautiful crown of merengue atop the pale green drink, and garnished with fresh cracked pepper and a fresh green bean,” says Lex Madden, head bartender at Upstairs and The Kitchen in Boulder. “Creamy and ethereal — and more than anything, green-beany — this drink is perfect for adventurous drinkers.”
In Time of Marigolds
“A take on the traditional Vesper martini, this cocktail takes advantage of herbaceous marigolds flowers to bring out the botanicals in the gin,” Madden says. Bar Hill Gin, marigold-infused Zero-Waste Mell Vodka, Kina L’aero d’or, and St. Germain infused with green cardamom, juniper berries, and toasted almonds all come together to form a martini that is beautifully floral while still being boozy enough to please even the most seasoned martini drinker, Madden says.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar: Cucumber Lemon Press
928 Pearl St. in Boulder
Spend a summer afternoon slurping oysters and sipping cocktails at Jax. With a refreshing blend of cucumber-infused vodka, lemon and soda water, this house-favorite cocktail is light and bright.
Abbott & Wallace: Mai Thai
350 Terry St Suite #120 in Longmont
Abbott & Wallace is a whiskey and rum distillery in Longmont that serves some stellar craft cocktails. Plenty are bidding for your attention this summer, from the Longtucky Julep made with bourbon, maple syrup, fresh mint and soda to the Under the Palapa, a blend of jalapeño rum, lime juice, mango, and Angostura bitters. For a quintessential summer libation, though, go for the mai tai. Abbott & Wallace concocts its version with an overproof rum, orgeat syrup, curacao, lime, Leviathan float and garnishes the tropical drink with a cherry and lime.
Avanti F and B—Boulder: P.O.W.derhound
1401 Pearl St. in Boulder
Order from a vendor at this hip food hall on the Pearl Street Mall and then ascend to the rooftop deck for Flatirons views and a cocktail. The P.O.W.derhound is a refreshing vodka cocktail with cucumber and the bitterness of Aperol leveling out the sweetness from the honey. A portion of the proceeds from this cocktail benefit P.O.W. (Protect Our Winters), a nonprofit that turns outdoor enthusiasts into climate advocates.
Teocalli Cocina: Prospector
103 N Public Rd Unit C in Lafayette
Margaritas are an obvious choice in the summer. For one of the best in the state, head to Old Town Lafayette. Teocalli Cocina has a modern Mexican menu with tacos galore, pork shank pibil and chicken enchilada suizas served with a jalapeno cream sauce. While you’re dunking chips in housemade salsas and guac, order the Prospector. It’s a spin on a margarita that’s made with muddled cucumber and a housemade cilantro syrup. For the next round, opt for the Diamante. It’s a tequila cocktail made with chocolate mole bitters.
Pizzeria Locale: Spritzes
1730 Pearl St.
No passports required, but you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away for a summer in Italy at Pizzeria Locale where an artisan Stefano Ferrarra wood-fired oven bakes Napoli-style pizzas and you can sip on summer spritzes. The Pearl Street pizza spot serves a classic Aperol Spritz with Aperol, prosecco, soda and orange. Or, you can get a Limoncello Spritz made with limoncello, prosecco, soda and basil.
West End Tavern: Tennessee Tea
926 Pearl St. in Boulder
Your first order of business: Head to the rooftop of the West End Tavern for a winning combo of whiskey and barbecue. Convincing you to opt for brown liquor in the summertime, this Tennessee Tea is a refreshing blend of George Dickel #8 Tennessee Whiskey, lemonade and iced tea. For a little extra citrus, it gets a splash of OJ. Whiskey lovers can also imbibe with flights of whiskey with a build-your-own option or a curated selection, like a trio of Colorado whiskeys.
Jungle: Blue Hawaii
2018 10th St. in Boulder
This cheerful tiki bar meets burger shack exudes an “always summer” vibe. With lush plants, palm-printed wallpaper and rattan accents, the decor solidifies the island spirit. Jungle slings tropical beverages year-round and every single craft cocktail on the rum-forward menu fits perfectly into the “summer cocktail” category. But one of the summer-iest drinks is the Blue Hawaii, a blend of vodka, pineapple and lemon that’s turned blue with the addition of an organic blue Curacao. Tucked off Pearl Street, Jungle also expertly covers the classics from mai tais to piña coladas. They’ve also dreamed up some inventive drinks. With ingredients as creative as its name, the Tiki Me Softly is a rum and brandy drink gussied up with salted guava and celery bitters.
Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant: The Classic Rio Margarita
1101 Walnut St.
With one of the best rooftops in Boulder, Rio Grande is a destination for imbibing in the summer. The classic margs here are famous. Created with a recipe that’s so secret it should be considered classified information, the margs here come classic, or in mango, blood orange, strawberry or a mix known as manberry. You can order mini margs if you want to sample the flavors and you’ve got a choice between on the rocks or frozen.
/Pôr/ Wine House: Mango Sangria
701 Main St. in Louisville
Come summer, you can’t go wrong with a bright and crisp rose. But make your next round a pitcher of one of pôr’s sangrias that you can share with the table. This traditional Spanish wine cocktail comes with summer fruits. At pôr, you can order red or white sangria. But might we suggest the mango version that feels spot-on for summer? If you can, sync up your visit with the live music schedule.
Centro Mexican Kitchen: Si Chef Margarita
950 Pearl St.
For a perfect spicy-but-sweet tequila cocktail, try the Si Chef Marg on Centro’s iconic Pearl Street patio. Pepper-infused 100 percent blue weber agave tequila gives the Si Chef marg a nice kick. Passion fruit puree, orange liqueur, fresh-squeezed lime juice and agave. Bonus: You can order the margarita by glass or the pitcher. Pair it with a taco board (you’ve got choices like baja fish, chicken asado, crispy cauliflower and carnitas al pastor).
Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro: Blackberry Smash
900 Walnut St.
Toast farewell to summer with the Blackberry Smash at Jill’s, the signature restaurant at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa. Blackberries hit their peak in late summer and early fall and these ripe, sweet and tangy berries are the star ingredient in this cocktail. It’s mixed with Buffalo Trace bourbon, which has an aroma of vanilla and mint, and lemon. Enjoy it al fresco on the St. Julien’s patio which gives you a front-row seat to the flatirons.
A COCKTAIL TO FALL FOR
While we’re suckers for a good summer cocktail, spiced fall cocktails are also bidding for some attention. To welcome autumn, head bartender Jay Beard from Flagstaff House draws from fall flavors to create this bourbon cocktail. Here’s how to make it at home with your own batch of pecan and fig-infused bourbon.
Falling for You
1 1/2 oz Pecan and Fig infused bourbon
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Flor de Cana Rum
1/2 oz Apple Cider
1/2 oz Honey
Dash of Underberg Bitters
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a Scotch-washed martini glass. To really get this right, create a rim on the glass with a blend of brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, white pepper & Szechuan pepper. Garnish with a candied pecan.