Each New Yorker has his or her own remedy for the stinking, thick blanket of heat that covers the city all summer. Some go for weekend getaways along the New England coastline. Others opt rely on what may as well be an IV drip of cold brew coffee and air-conditioned hermit lifestyles. Still others venture across the city’s dining rooms and patios searching for a boozy, frosted-glass remedy to curb the suffering. We raise a glass to that group — and offer a list of suggestions. These are the 10 best summer cocktails in NYC.
10. Bellini at Employees Only, 510 Hudson Street
This bellini here goes beyond its quotidian brunch expectations, and it’s refreshing at any hour of the day — which means you don’t have to wait for the weekend to order it. A smooth, elegant white peach puree gets a dose of carbonation from Prosecco and a dash of sweet peach cordial.
9. Let’s Go All the Way at Bell Book & Candle, 141 West 10th Street
Happy hour oysters might lure you to this quiet bar and restaurant, which sits a staircase below street level. Blindly ordering a cocktail by the silliest name on the menu, a real hit or miss strategy, turns up a winner: the Let’s Go All The Way, a punchy summer cooler. American craft vodka, infused with the unique tang of cilantro, is muddled with the sweet juice of strawberries and followed by the pleasant sting of tart lemon.
8. Junebug Sling at The Dutch, 131 Sullivan Street
It may be named for those annoying creatures spotted on Southern porch screens at the beginning of the season, but this pleasing cocktail will chase away any heat-related irritation. There’s watermelon grenadine prompting all the nostalgia of lakeside summers, a citrusy punch of lime juice to awaken and refresh, and enough top shelf rum to forget the rest of your worries. It’s spiked with a dose of Bénédictine, a pungent, herbaceous French liqueur.
7. Pisco Punch at Pegu Club, 77 West Houston Street
Dip into South America’s iconic spirit at this cocktail lair, where Audrey Sanders gives it expert treatment, creating a porch pounder (and if only the Pegu Club had a porch). Sweet pineapple, bitter grapefruit, and tart lime marry enticingly in this drink, and each serving of punch comes in a tall coupe glass, garnished with a bright purple flower.
6. Frozen Zombie at Zombie Hut, 273 Smith Street, Brooklyn
Even if you normally shun fluorescent frozen cocktails, you might use summertime as an excuse to give this drink a chance. This eyebrow-raisingly strong blended drink exhibits the sweet notes of apricot brandy, pineapple, and rum, all edged by a little lime. It comes in a glass rimmed with candy and it will set you back less than $10, plastic monkey garnish included.
5. Rhubarb Blush at Whiskey Soda Lounge, 115 Columbia Street, Brooklyn
The newest addition to Andy Ricker’s bicoastal Thai food and drink empire, Whiskey Soda Lounge NY serves up the drinking food of Thailand, which includes everything from Ricker’s famous fish sauce wings to salty, crispy deep fried pork ear. Pair your snacks to the rhubarb blush, a combination of Aperol, gin, rhubarb bitters, and fresh lime juice served over ice.
4. Strawberry Cobbler at Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery
Saxon + Parole’s bartenders are known for taking traditional flavors and getting creative, and here, they’re playing with the cobbler, an old classic that blends a base spirit with sugar and fruit. In this case, they’ve chosen a rum and fino sherry base and added a bright berry puree and fragrant lemongrass shrub. A finishing pour of sparkling wine gives this a nice lift for a hot day.
3. Tom Collins at The Butterfly, 225 West Broadway
This Tribeca spot deals in classic American fare and it maintains a classic American cocktail list to match. When you’re escaping the relentless sun, head straight for the Tom Collins, a gin drink blended with lemon and sugar and topped off with fizzy water. Here, it’s garnished with kaffir lime leaves, which give it a cooling sour twist, plus a frozen orange and cherry topper.
2. Margarita at Tortilla Flats, 767 Washington Street
Margaritas may now get treatments that include habanero infusions and rose-scented cointreau, but it’s the classic version that we crave in the summer. Tortilla Flats makes a good one, and you can drink them by the pitcher ($30 during happy hour) with a patio view of the Hudson Greenway sunset.
1. Dark and Slushie at Glady’s, 788 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
Summer is the season of carefree fun, and this drink spins the record back to sticky-hot teenage afternoons spent sipping Slurpees from tall, dewy styrofoam cups. This very grown-up version is made with black rum, lime, and ginger, and it pairs well with island snacks like crunchy fried dough sticks called festivals and fried plantains.