5 PERFECT SUMMER COCKTAILS + tips for crafting a great cocktail

One of my favorite things about summer is the cocktails.  There isn't much that's better than an ice cold cocktail on the patio as the sun glides towards the horizon.  Dan and are working on our yard right now, so instead of a patio we just have a pile of sod and dirt for the time being, but if I close my eyes I'm sitting on our future patio with my feet propped up on our future fire pit.  The point is, it doesn't really matter whether or not you have a dreamy patio to enjoy a cocktail, they're still pretty damn delicious regardless of where you're doing the enjoying.  

Want to make some bomb cocktails this summer?  Here are a few tips for giving your cocktails an extra boost of awesome.

Always use the freshest ingredients when you can.  Squeeze citrus juices fresh from the fruit, and use fresh herbs and spices.  If you plan on making lots of cocktails this summer, it helps to always have lemons and limes on hand.  Instead of using a sour mix, make your own!  I promise it'll taste ten times better.

When muddling fruits and herbs, make sure to muddle the right amount.  Use a heavier hand with fruits, while being more delicate with herbs.

When it comes to booze, get the best you can afford.  I've always heard that you shouldn't


with a wine you wouldn't


, so it stands to reason that a cocktail should be made with liquor that tastes good straight!  Of course, liquor can get super pricey, so it's a balance between affordability and taste, just find something that works for you.  But!  A good liquor can really make a cocktail incredible.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade Sparkler


Chipotle Whisky Sour

Make sure to dilute your drinks!  Diluting can feel like it's going against the point of creating a cocktail, but here are simple cues to know when your drink is diluted the right amount.  For cocktails that are stirred, watch the edges of the ice cubes. Once they've lost their sharpness and the edges are rounded, it's done!  If you're making a shaken drink, you'll know it's properly diluted as soon as the shaker gets frosty.  Another tip on ice: if the ice has been sitting in your freezer for too long it can start to take on the taste of other stuff in your freezer, which really isn't the flavor profile you want in your cocktail.  Use fresh ice!

Don't forget the garnish!  My 


 way to make a cocktail look super fancy is the garnish.  Even the most simple of garnishes can make your cocktail look like it was handcrafted by a world class bartender.  Just a twist of lime, sprig of mint, or a wedge of fruit is all it takes!  Not only do garnishes make your drinks look great, they can also finish out the flavor profile of your drinks.  Just a twist of lemon peel or a star anise can perfectly finish your cocktail!  If you're garnishing with a citrus peel, make sure to twist it over the drink before rubbing the rim and dropping it in.  If you're garnishing with herbs, clap them between your palms to release the oils first.

Using the right type of glass for a cocktail can also help your cocktails shine.  It's not required for a great tasting cocktail, obviously, but it can make it that much more pretty.  I've bought all my different kinds of cocktail glasses at thrift stores!  Or, you know, just use mason jars, I'm guilty of using mason jars for 90% of my home cocktails.