This post is part three of our Build-a-Bar series. In part one, we taught you how to stock your bar with just $100 to make some basic cocktails. In part two, we dove into making homemade syrups, infusions, and bitters for a more personal touch. This $100 setup will let you prepare a full array of icy, refreshing drinks perfect for the hot summer.
Summer is here and you can feel it: your car is a sweltering oven by 11AM and any prolonged time spent outside your air-conditioned hole leaves you gasping, sweaty, and thirsting for an icy cold beverage.
While our basic $100 bar might well prepare you to entertain in a 20th floor apartment downtown, it just doesn’t cut it when you’re throwing a barbecue in 90 degree suburban heat and need something to keep you and your guests cool and refreshed.
The $100 Bar: Summer Edition will yield a menu of 8 refreshing cocktails that pair perfectly with the scorching sun AND will help keep you hydrated.
If being classy and sober is a disease, then Tequila is the cure. You can pour Tequila shots at any time for an easy morale boost. Plus if you want to actually make a cocktail, Margaritas are super simple to make in small or large quantities. We didn’t include Triple Sec in this list, so substitute a little fresh-squeezed orange juice and no one will be the wiser. As for the tequila, there’s no contest: El Jimador is the best selling tequila in Mexico, from whence it came. It’s smooth, earthy, and is 100% Agave which is rare for this price point.
El Jimador Reposado, $16
3 parts El Jimador ReposadoTequila
2 parts orange juice
1 part simple syrup
Shake with ice, pour over ice in a glass.
As in our classic $100 bar, Vodka is a great all-around default booze to keep handy. Switch it up for summer by choosing a citrus version instead – there is almost no drink that Vodka goes in that won’t be better off for it.
Sobieski is the true dark horse of bottom shelf Vodkas, getting consistently higher ratings than vodkas 2 or 3 times the price. Sobieski Citron is a solid starter for a Vodka Soda with a twist of lemon, or a Summertime Hard Iced Tea (recipe below). It also makes a good Long Island iced tea if your aim is to get wrecked.
Sobieski Cytron, $14
First, watch this video of a master bartender mix up a classic Mint Julep while reciting Civil War era poetry:
Then, add a bunch of mint leaves, simple syrup, and a bottle of one of the most flavorful whiskeys available for under $20 to your shopping cart, and take a moment of silence to pay your respects to Old Glory. Oops, I meant to Old Grandad, 100 Proof to be exact. This bourbon is widely underappreciated, and as one of the last few whiskeys still bottled in bond, stands for an historical American institution. Old Grandad makes a killer Mint Julep, a spicy Old Fashioned, or a simple, refreshing whiskey and soda with a twist of lemon over ice.
Old Grandad 100 Proof, $18
The choice spirit of sailors and summertime, and requiring no explanation. White rum is simple, straightforward, and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Remember those mint leaves you picked up for Colonel Sanders? You’ll need them alongside some limes, rum, and simple syrup to make a Cuban mojito, or just to pour with literally any soft drink for a simple mixer.
Surprisingly, Captain Morgan White Rum is an excellent choice and is cheaper than most others in the same category.
Captain Morgan White Rum, $14
That’s it for the booze portion, the rest is everything else needed to actually make some real cocktails. We’re up to $62 if you’re keeping score.
You really only need this for Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Sazeracs, however bitters can add a compelling dimension of flavor to almost any drink. Try a dash of bitters in your next margarita, or even just a few drops to a glass of water as an old school southern remedy for upset stomach. Angostura Bitters, $8
Yes, you will need a cocktail shaker to make any drink involving fruit juice. Get the biggest, cheapest one you can find at Walmart, Meijer, or even Amazon. Cheapest shaker you can find, $5
What, teabags? Yes, meet your summertime secret weapon: Hard Iced Tea. This is the perfect poolside drink. It’s easy to make in mass quantity, and will keep folks coming back for more. Brew up some iced tea and dump it into a large pitcher. Juice half a lemon in there, add a few cups of citrus vodka (or bourbon, if you’re feeling randy), a bunch of sliced oranges and lemons, and 6 ounces of simple syrup. Mix it all up and serve over ice, with a sprig of mint on top. Amazing. Lipton Black Tea, $2.
We’re skipping out on the tonic water to cut back on sugar, which often makes dehydration worse. An easy, no-hassle and refreshing drink for any summer event is a citrus vodka with soda over ice – garnish with a twist of lemon if you’ve got the time. Soda Water, $2 for a 2-liter
Hella Citrus Fruits
Seriously, go nuts on citrus fruits. Get at least 2 dozen limes, 4 lemons, and a few oranges. Margaritas and Mojitos both require fresh limes, which only yield a few ounces of juice each when squeezed. Aside from being a staple main ingredient in several drinks, every cocktail you serve should be garnished with a slice of fruit regardless of the composition. Trust us. As much fruit as you can buy for $10
Watch that mint julep video again. As many bunches as you can get for $5.