It gets pretty hot around here in the summertime — and this year is looking to be a record-breaker. Happily, this is also the season for icy cocktails, slushy and sippable fruity concoctions for poolsides, boat decks and bar patios. 

Brendan Dillon, owner of Hamlet and Ghost in Saratoga Springs, says a great summer cocktail should be, above all, refreshing. “I like them to be fruit-forward, citrusy,” he says. “I also like drinks that are uncomplicated, because I don’t like spending the time making a complicated drink when there are other things to be doing.” 

Here you’ll find three cocktail recipes that meet — and we would even say exceed — those criteria. Drink up!

Jalapeño Cranberry Margarita

Made by: Jamie Fronk, executive chef, The Front Street Social Club, Ballston Spa  

Why it’s great: “A while ago, I got into muddling everything,” Fronk says. “I started playing with a bunch of peppers. I got an amazing taste out of red pepper when I started mashing it. The flavor was just incredible. From there, I wanted to do something spicier.” 

Fronk says he loves the contrast of cranberry and jalapeño. “The best margarita is good tequila, agave and fresh lime,” he says. Adding cranberry gives the drink its summer fruitiness and “the flavor of jalapeño adds a nice little heat tingle to the back of your throat.” 

Jalapeno Cranberry Margarita
Photo courtesy The Front Street Social Club

Jalapeño Cranberry Margarita

  • 2 oz your favorite tequila
  • 1 muddled sliced jalapeño coin
  • 1 oz light blue agave syrup (Substitute simple syrup if you don’t have agave syrup, although agave is preferred.)
  • 2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Splash cranberry juice
  • Salt rim

Shake well and strain over ice. Garnish with fresh lime wedge and jalapeño coin on a pick.

Jungle Bird

Made by: Dominick Purnomo, owner, dp An American Brasserie, Albany

Why it’s great: “The Jungle Bird is thought to be originally created by Giri Pancha at the Aviary Bar in the Kuala Lumpur Hilton,” Purnomo says. “We pay homage to this cocktail with a few slight tweaks.” 

Purnomo says he loves tiki culture and rum-based cocktails. “My standard go-to cocktail is the Negroni or some variation,” he says. “The Jungle Bird is the perfect balance of a sweet but refreshing tiki cocktail tempered with the bitterness that Campari offers.” 

Jungle Bird
Photo courtesy dp An American Brasserie

Jungle Bird

  • 1.5 oz Goslings rum
  • 1.5 oz fresh-squeezed pineapple juice (or high-quality packaged)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar by volume, shake until fully dissolved)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice, shake until chilled (approximately 30 seconds). Strain over fresh ice in rocks glass. Garnish with pineapple & cherry.

Howling Wolf

Made by: Brendan Dillon, owner, Hamlet and Ghost, Saratoga Springs

Why it’s great: “I was looking for things that are fairly easy to pull off,” Dillon says of his Howling Wolf cocktail recipe. “People will be more inclined to make simpler things. And this one is springy-summery, fun, pretty easy to put together and tastes great.” 

Dillon also says he likes big-batch cocktails — pitchers of gin-and-tonic that can be set out on the barbecue table. And the muddled blueberries in the Howling Wolf have another appeal: “It’s pretty!” says Dillon. 

Howling Wolf
Photo by Shawn LaChapelle/courtesy Hamlet and Ghost

Howling Wolf 

  • 1 oz melon liqueur
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup or ¼ oz agave syrup

Muddle 10 blueberries in your shaker glass, then add the rest of the ingredients and ice. Shake and strain into a cold glass of your choice. Garnish with a thin slice of watermelon or cantaloupe.

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