Not so long ago, bitter aperitifs such as Campari and Aperol were little more than dust gatherers at the back of your parents’ drinks cupboard. Fortunately, we realised a few years back that despite our shoddy summers, aperitivo hour should definitely be a thing in the UK and our obsession took off in style, with Negronis and Spritzes all over the shop.
Much as they’ve become summer booze staples, it’s always fun to experiment, so we went in search of a few simple twists on the summery, sunshine-y classics we know and love.
Scroll through our gallery below for your new favourites, such as the Rosé Aperol Spritz, the Aperoni, the Scotch-jito, a pimped-up Daiquiri and a frankly fabulous sorbet update for your go-to glass of prosecco.
This is a simple take on the classic Piña Colada, swapping cream for a lighter version made with Koko Kanu coconut rum.
50ml Koko Kanu
50ml pineapple juice
Method: Add all ingredients to a boston shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
You’ll probably be familiar with Mojitos, the gateway cocktail of choice, but here the well-known white rum and sugar combo is switched up with whisky and honey.
40ml R&B Distillers Borders Grain Whisky
4 fresh mint leaves
3 lime wedges
2 tsp honey (or maple syrup)
Ice and soda water
Method: Muddle the whisky, lime wedges, mint and honey/syrup together in a highball glass. Add crushed ice and top up with soda water.
This upscaled prosecco is extremely easy to make, and as creator Mia Johansson, co-owner of Soho’s Swift, tells stylist.co.uk: “What makes it even better is that it doesn't cost a fortune but hits home every time, like a good classic should. The small addition of the Italicus really lifts the citrus and gives the drinks a nice floral note.”
10ml Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
1 scoop of fresh lemon sorbet
Method: Pour the Italicus into a coupe glass, add the sorbet and top with the prosecco. Garnish with grated lemon (and serve with a small spoon).
Sangria on a summer’s day is instant Spain. While recipes differ, the team at Brindisa has pimped the usual by adding cava.
300ml soda water
210ml sangria mix
Seasonal fruit to taste
Method (makes a jugful): Fill a 1.3 litre jug with cubed ice. Pour in all ingredients and stir briefly. Garnish individual glasses with fruit.
Note: if you don’t have pre-made sangria, combine 60ml each of triple sec, lemon juice and honey water with 15ml each of creme de fraise and creme de mure.
Watermelon Frozen Margarita
A spiced twist on the classic Daiquiri using a chilli liqueur and fresh herbs. Recipe provided by Darwin & Wallace bars.
Method: Add all ingredients to boston shaker. Fill with cubed ice and shake hard for 12-15 seconds. Double strain onto cubed ice, garnish with chilli.
A G&T is a staple that will always have its place, but there’s no harm in a gentle update now and then. This from Dingle Distillery replaces tonic with soda water to allow the gin to shine, and suggests bitters of your choice to highlight different botanicals.
35ml Dingle Original Gin
2-3 dashes flavoured bitters (peach, cucumber, grapefruit, chilli, chocolate etc)
2 fresh lime wedges
Method: Fill your chosen glassware with ice, squeeze and drop in lime wedges. Pour over the gin, add the bitters and top with soda to taste.
The Pimm's Short
Pimm’s is a summer staple, so what better than a new way to serve it? Changing the measure is extremely simple, but makes for a more intense, short drink.
50ml Pimm’s No 1
Method: Fill a short glass with ice. Pour in Pimm’s and lemonade and stir. Garnish with orange peel.
Rosé Aperol Spritz
The Aperol Spritz has been taking over summer for a few years now, so it was inevitable that twists on the simple but oh-so-effective Aperol-soda-prosecco recipe would turn up.
A version from blog girlinthelittlereadkitchen.com simply swaps the prosecco for a dry, fruity rosé wine, while a recipe by bonappetit.com requires passion fruit juice, sugar and sparkling rosé. Go forth and experiment.
This is a British twist on the US-born Mint Julep by those behind Darwin & Wallace bars, using rhubarb for a sharp, fresh kick.
50ml home-made rhubarb compote (can be substituted with organic rhubarb jam)
35ml Chase Rhubarb Vodka
15ml bourbon whiskey
8 mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)
Method: Add all ingredients into a Julep tin, add crushed ice and mix vigorously. Top with more crushed ice. Garnish with rhubarb ribbon and mint leaves.
A Moscow Mule’s base is usually vodka, but a summery update replaces the spirit with Pimm’s.
50ml Pimm’s No 1
150ml ginger ale
2 lime wedges
Sprig of mint
Method: Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the Pimm’s and ginger ale, stir briefly, and garnish with the mint and lime (squeezing the lime optional).
For a different Margarita serve, try the red wine Coralina from tequila brand Patrón, complete with signature salt rim of course.
50ml Patrón Reposado tequila
20ml Patrón Citrónge Orange liqueur
30ml fresh lime juice
20ml simple syrup
15ml red wine (Mexican, or other)
Sugar and salt (optional)
Method: Combine tequila, orange liqueur, simple syrup and lime juice in a shaker tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe rimmed with a sugar-salt mix to taste. Carefully top with red wine.
Classic Martinis are a beautiful lesson in simplicity, but if you want a twist beyond a Gibson, how about one that’s practically healthy, from Tanqueray?
400ml green juice (choose your favourite)
300ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin
80ml lime juice
80ml lemon juice
40ml ginger juice
12ml salt water
Method (makes 1 litre): Add all ingredients to a sealable glass bottle, shake. Serve in Martini glasses.
The Aperol Spritz and the Negroni have taken over the cocktail scene, so combining the two flavours is a no-brainer. This, from London’s Il Pampero restaurant, swaps the Campari for the lighter Aperol for a less intense hit. NB The Negroni evolved from the Americano, which has soda instead of gin for a sip that’s lighter still.
25ml sweet vermouth
Method: Pour the ingredients into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir on ice and add a citrus garnish of your choice.