When temperatures rise, we reach for something to cool us off, and our favorite vino is never far from reach. While you may be used to drinking wine on its own, it’s far more versatile than you think. We spoke to 12 of our favorite sommeliers and mixologists about how they like to use wine in summer cocktails, and the results will impress you. In sangria, spritzes, and even in a new-wave Tiki iteration, they’ve proven that wine is the ingredient to have on hand this summer. Your glasses and shaker will thank you.
Brahm Callahan, Master Sommelier, Beverage Director Himmel Hospitality Group (Boston)
Cocktail: The Kina Kir
This wine-based cocktail from Harvest is crisp and refreshing — the perfect summer cocktail. Also, it isn’t as boozy as some classic cocktails, which means you can drink it all day long. Because of the restrained use of spirits and its acidity, it’s also extremely versatile with food, and especially great with salads, vegetables, and all things summer.
- 2 ounces Lillet rose
- 1/2 ounce Ketel One Vodka
- 3/4 ounce St. Germain
- 2 ounces of sparkling Rueda (such as Vina Cantosan Brut NV)
- Combine Lillet, Ketel One and St. Germain over ice.
- Give it a good shake for approximately 30 seconds.
- Strain, pour into 8-ounce coupe glass and add sparkling wine.
Miguel Lancha, Cocktail Innovator, Think Food Group/ Jaleo by José Andrés (Washington D.C./ Las Vegas)
Cocktail: Jaleo by José Andrés
Yield: 1 32-ounce pitcher
Particularly the fizzy versions of sangria are so refreshing, and are a perfect blend of fruity and spiced. It’s such a festive drink that you can share and its lower ABV makes it good to have more than one. What else is better than to enjoy sangria with friends in the summer? – Miguel Lancha
- 13 ounces Valdehermoso Joven 2016, Ribera del Duero (about half of a 750ml bottle)
- 9 ounces Sangría Base (see recipe below)
- 10 ounces soda water
- To garnish: 4 each lemon wheels, mint sprigs, orange peels, and berries
- Combine wine, sangría base, and seltzer in a pitcher.
- Fill 4 glasses with cubed ice, and pour sangría into each.
- Place lemon, mint, orange peel, and berry on top. Serve immediately.
- 2 1/4 ounces simple syrup
- 4 3/4 ounces Sangría Syrup (see recipe below)
- 1 ounce sherry brandy (like Lustau Solera Reserva Brandy)
- 1 ounce dry gin (like Fords Gin)
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Set aside until making the sangría.
(Makes 1 quart)
- 3 cups orange juice
- 3⁄4 cup lemon juice
- 3.5 ounces sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 juniper berries
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 bunch fresh mint, destemmed
- Zest from 1 orange
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Strain through a fine sieve and store in sealed container until ready to use.
Matt Whitney, Wine Director, Eastern Standard (Boston)
Cocktail: La Cucaracha
La Cucaracha is a staple in our program, and is our go-to for anybody craving sangria. It has a nice balance of fruit, spice and savory notes, while taking on a great texture from the Tempranillo. It’s refreshing, and a great riff on sangria for the hot season!
- 1 ounce Finca Villacreces Ribera del Duero 2009
- 1 ounce Tequila Arette Blanco
- 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
- 3/4 split of housemade cardamom syrup and housemade cinnamon syrup (or try Cardamom Clove simple syrup by Royal Rose, and Torani Cinnamon Syrup)
- Ginger beer
- Mix all ingredients, except the ginger beer, in a mixing glass.
- Add ice and shake 5-10 seconds.
- Strain over fresh ice into a highball glass.
- Top with ginger beer, and garnish with a lime wedge.
Yusef Austin, Founder, The Cocktail Architect
Cocktail: Bacchus’ Punch (serves 6-8)
I love how the herbal nuances of the Benedictine mixes with this wine for a summer punch. We incorporate Spanish summer fruits to round out the wine, especially once it hits ice and dilutes a bit. I imagine looking onto the terrain and sipping this punch when the sun starts to set. Pair it with a lovely olive oil, grilled bread, olives and chorizo. Yum!
- 2 750 ml bottles Emilio Moro Ribero Del Duero Tempranillo
- 1 750 ml bottle Benedictine
- 15 ounces honey syrup
- 1/2 quart each of strawberries, peaches and cherries
- 1 large mint sprig
- Large colorful painted ceramic bowl
- De-seed the fruit and muddle in a punch bowl.
- Add wine, Benedictine and honey and stir thoroughly.
- Let sit for the afternoon at room temperature so the fruit blends into the alcohol.
- Ladle the punch into a large wine glass over crushed ice and garnish with a few mint leaves.
Chris Tanghe, Master Sommelier, Chief Instructor GuildSomm (Seattle)
Mine is a riff on a classic, a drink that I immediately think of during the summer : the Aperol Spritz. It’s perfect on a boat, though a porch, patio or picnic will do. This drink is a crowd-pleaser and even though it’s a “bitter” drink, it still has quite a bit of sweetness, so everyone likes it. My version uses different ingredients that go for a true bitterness, but there is enough sugar to keep it in balance. A bonus is that it’s low-proof, so you can have a few without getting too loopy!
Cocktail: Aperol Spritz
- 1 part Gran Classico bitter
- 1 part Cocchi Vermouth de Torino
- 2 dashes Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
- 2 parts sparkling Rueda — I like Brut Nature Mocén
- Splash soda
- Large grapefruit twist garnish
- Fill a large wine glass halfway with ice.
- Build the cocktail in the glass with the Gran Classico, Cocchi and Scrappy’s first, then add the sparkling Rueda and soda.
- Give a gentle stir; the first ingredients are a bit denser than the wine, and otherwise will stay at the bottom.
- Garnish with grapefruit twist — make sure to squeeze the oil out of the peel — and you’re good to go.
Dana Gaiser, Advanced Sommelier, On-Premise Key Accounts Director Lauber Imports (New York)
Cocktail: Castilla Bramble
I love this cocktail in the summer when I’m looking for something a little lighter on the booze. I created it one balmy evening and drink it at home all the time now. It has a great Tiki feel to it, though it doesn’t use rum. I suggest using a Ribera del Duero with some American oak, which lends a bit of coconut and spice to enhance that tropical feel.
- 2 ounces Vina Sastre Ribera del Duero 2015
- 1 1/2 ounces Massenez Creme de Pomme Verte
- 1.2 ounce Massenez Creme de Griotte
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 2 dashes Reagan’s orange bitters
- 1 ounce soda
- Luxardo maraschino cherries or brandied cherries for garnish
- Shake all ingredients, except the soda, with ice.
- Strain over crushed ice in a hurricane glass and add soda.
- Squeeze a lemon twist over the top, rub it on the rim of the glass and discard.
- Garnish with cherries.
JP Fetherston, Head Bartender, Drink Company / Columbia Room (Washington D.C.)
Cocktail: The Shoreline Cup
This is a cocktail from our current ocean-themed menu for Summer 2017. The idea was to make a wine-based cocktail, that was light, lower ABV and refreshing, but that emphasized strong marine notes. We wanted a lot salinity from the sea beans, samphire and celery to put one in the mind of sipping an aperitif near the ocean.
- 2 ounces Verdejo-based Rueda such as the Finca Montepedroso Verdejo
- 3/4 ounce sea bean and samphire-infused vodka
- 1/4 ounce celery juice
- 1/4 ounce honey syrup
- 1 dash Linder Farms wild chamomile vinegar
- 1 dash grapefruit bitters
- 1/2 ounce filtered water
- Build in a wine glass over ice.
- Garnish with a sea bean stalk and celery leaf.
Ashley Santoro, Wine Director, The Standard (New York)
This cocktail was a complete accident. I had three goals: successfully incorporate Chareau aloe liqueur; keep the ABV slightly lower; and create something refreshing. Chareau has beautiful texture and botanical notes, but can be somewhat challenging to work with. Because the wine has such a dominant role, I went with the Jose Pariente Verdejo to add citrus and fennel notes, but most importantly, acidity.
Cocktail: Peruvian Summer
- 1 ounce Macchu Pisco
- 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce Chareau
- 1/2 ounce Giffard Pamplemousse
- 3/4 ounce Jose Pariente Verdejo
- Add all ingredients to shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain into coupe.
Josh Lit, Advanced Sommelier The MODERN NYC (New York)
Cocktail: The Castilla
Refreshing: this is the most important word in the dictionary of summer cocktails. If you can incorporate freshness, acidity and a touch of sweetness, you will have a fantastic summer cocktail. The following cocktail is Chef Francis Mallmann’s recipe — with a Spanish twist! Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic grape variety, and I love how Bodegas Menade preserves the freshness of the variety in their late harvest style. Make sure to stir the cocktail to incorporate all of the ingredients. Happy drinking!
- 3 ounces Bodegas Menade Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Rueda
- 2 ounces orange juice
- 1 ounce Campari
- Grab a highball glass and add crushed ice.
- Add ingredients and stir. Enjoy!
John Lowe, Sommelier & Marija Mijic, Sommelier, Matador Room by Jean Georges @ the Miami Beach EDITION (Miami)
We wanted to bridge the gap between a sangria and a G&T for the hot summer, as you want a lower ABV drink that’s refreshing with lots of ice! Using the Ribera Tempranillo gives the drink nice depth and pairs wonderfully with orange.
Cocktail: Peñafiel G&T
- 2 ounces Alkkemist Gin
- 1/2 ounce Jack Rudy tonic syrup
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 6 drops orange bitters
- 6 ounces soda water
- 1 ounce Tempranillo (Ribera del Duero)
- Orange for garnish
- Fill large stemmed Burgundy glass with large ice cubes.
- Pour in gin, tonic syrup, bitters and lime juice, then stir vigorously in the glass.
- Add soda water and gently stir to combine.
- Layer the Tempranillo on top of the cocktail.
- Garnish with fresh orange slice.
Jacob Grier, Bartender, Wayfinder Beer & Cocktail Consultant, Liquidity Preference (Portland)
Cocktail: New Amsterdam Sour
I created this drink for an event at Metrovino, a wine bar where I used to work in Portland. It’s a variation on the New York Sour, using genever in place of whiskey. The maltiness and botanicals are great for a summer sour, and the lighter color of the genever really makes the contrast with the red wine pop.
- 1 1/2 ounces Bols Genever
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Ribera del Duero Tempranillo such as 2012 Hacienda Monasterio 750ml
- Shake the genever, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
- Insert straw and float approximately half an ounce of red wine on top.
- Using crushed ice to fill the glass is a nice touch but not strictly necessary.
Joseph Ferragamo, Food & Beverage Director, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco (San Francisco)
Cocktail: The Top of the Mark Collins
Below is one drink we offer at our location, we try to rotate specialty drinks every few months. Both of these are classics and solid choices for summer. Myself and Jaap Boelens, Food and Beverage Operation Manager come up with the drinks. For the Top of the Mark Collins we put the drink together to try to get more people to try Hendrick’s Gin. To soften it up, gin has a very set flavor profile and I think it’s a love/hate when it comes to that taste. Cutting with some wine seemed the way to go.
- 1 1/2 ounces Hendricks Gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce house made simple syrup
- 1 1/2 ounces Rueda Verdejo, like the Shaya Verdejo
- Club soda
- Shake all ingredients except the club soda and strain over ice into a cocktail glass.
- Pour club soda to fill to the top.
- Garnish with an orange peel.
Zak Doy, Bar Manager of Rush Lane (Toronto)
Cocktail: Rueda Sour
It’s been a beautiful summer. What’s better than a super-refreshing, low-ABV sour on a sunny day? This cocktail was inspired by the bright flavors of rhubarb and orange, brightened with fresh citrus notes. The Verdejo completes the flavor delivery with a deep finish that really rounds out and balances the whole drink.
- 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- Egg white/aquafaba (vegan option)
- Rueda Verdejo, such as Marques de Riscal Verdejo
- Shake all ingredients except the Verdejo
- Strain over ice into a cocktail glass.
- Serve up with a float of still Verdejo on top.
Raul Abrantes, Director of Outlets, The Stinger Cocktail Bar & Kitchen By Todd English @ The Intercontinental New York Times Square
Cocktail: The Stinger NY Sour
This is a twist on a classic whiskey sour. At the Stinger we only use premium spirits and fresh juices along with our own housemade honey that we harvest from our rooftop beehives. It is refreshing, has a great balance, and with a very nice buzz!
- 1 1/2 ounces Bulleit bourbon
- 1/2 ounce Ilegal Joven Mezcal
- 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup
- Splash of Ribera del Duero Tempranillo such as Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Tinto 2014
- Place an egg white in a shaker and dry shake vigorously to create a foam.
- add all ingredients plus ice, and shake vigorously again.
- Pour on the rocks and drizzle with Tempranillo.
- Use a stirrer to lightly create a design with the foam and the Tempranillo.
- No garnish needed. Enjoy.