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Great summer drinks

Forget your usual cocktail and cool off with these

By Courtney Hollands
Globe Staff / July 8, 2010

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You got to spend a fair amount of time at the beach last weekend, and now you’re counting the hours till you can hear the surf again. Pass the time by enjoying a refreshing summery cocktail — and we’re not talking about a boring old frozen margarita. The city’s top bartenders are throwing all sorts of fun and unexpected ingredients into the mix. Think calamansi juice, peach-infused dark rum, even jalapenos. It’s not a dip in the sea, but these drinks offer a bracing mid-week break just the same.

HOT NANTUCKET NIGHT

$14 at Woodward at Ames

One Court St., Boston

In the mix:

1 1/2 ounces Don Julio tequila

1 ounce agave nectar

½ ounce lime juice

1 thin slice jalapeño pepper

2 fresh cranberries

Muddle jalapeno and cranberries in a glass. Add tequila, agave, and lime juice. Add ice and shake, then serve. Garnish with a jalapeño slice.

“I love hot stuff. I always have bottles of Sriracha and Frank’s Red Hot in my fridge,’’ head bartender William “English Bill’’ Codman says. “The fresh muddled cranberries are acidic, the agave is sweet, and the jalapeño is hot.’’

Bottom line: It’s all about balance here. The cleverly named drink is a bit hot on the back of the tongue, but doesn’t burn on the way down (Of course, if you want fire, Codman says he’s happy to kick the spice up a notch or two.)

Or try: The Polished Passion ($14) combines vodka with passion fruit juice, cinnamon, honey, and chili flakes. It’s both tropical and savory.

RARELY EAGLE

$10 at Highland Kitchen

150 Highland Ave., Somerville

In the mix:

1 1/2 ounces Eagle Rare bourbon

3/4 ounce St-Germain

3/4 ounce lemon juice

¼ ounce simple syrup

Two dashes of orange flower water

Shake and serve

“Just because people tend to drink brown spirits like whiskey and brandy in the winter months doesn’t mean you can’t use them in the summer,’’ bar manager Joe McGuirk says, adding that the drink’s name is a playful nod to the bourbon’s name and to a certain smutty magazine.

Bottom line: Give your favorite gin or vodka libation a rest — try this layered, lemony bourbon cocktail instead.

Or try: McGuirk calls the Dorchester ($7) — made with vodka, Triple Sec, pink lemonade, and garnished with a cucumber slice — a “backyard barbecue drink.’’ This isn’t your grandma’s lemonade, unless your nana is a vodka drinker, that is.

THE SEXY COUGAR

$9 or $17 for a “Cougar Carafe’’ for two at Regal Beagle

308 Harvard St., Brookline

In the mix:

One bottle of Celestin Blondeau sauvignon blanc (or the sauvignon blanc of your choice)

1/3 bottle Leblon cachaça

2 ounces Triple Sec

2 ounces bay leaf-infused simple syrup

Juice of two limes, one lemon, and one orange

One mango, cut up

½ honey dew melon, cut up

Combine and let sit for two days before serving. The bar makes this sangria in a big batch, but scaled this recipe down for one bottle of wine.

“We wanted to do a summer white sangria that is refreshing,’’ manager Rich Murphy says. “The bay leaves add herbal flavor and cut the sweetness.’’

Bottom line: White sangrias can be cloyingly sweet — not the case here. The Beagle’s mix is light and fruity with spicy notes. Still, we bet you can’t order a “Cougar Carafe’’ with a straight face.

CANTALOUPE MOJITO

$9 at Pops

560 Tremont St., Boston

In the mix:

1 ripe whole cantaloupe infused in a bottle of Bacardi rum over night

6 fresh mint leaves

1/2 a lime

1 ounce simple syrup

Soda water

Muddle mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup. Fill rocks glass with ice and pour infused rum over ice. Shake and top with soda water, then garnish with a cantaloupe slice.

“The flavor of juicy cantaloupe with the freshness of mint and underlying fragrant citrus of lime, for me, is a perfect hot summer thirst quencher,’’ says chef/owner Felino Samson.

Bottom line: As if you needed another excuse to have a cocktail during brunch, this one brings the crisp fruity musk of cantaloupe out of the fruit cup realm and into a reliably solid mojito.

Or try: Pear and Ginger Sparkler, ($9). Canton ginger liqueur adds teeth to the effervescence of Cava, and it’s rounded out by a lightly sweet pear liqueur and garnished with candied ginger chips.

NO. 61

$10 at Hungry Mother

233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave., Cambridge

In the mix:

1 ounce Rain vodka

1 ounce ruby red grapefruit juice

1 ounce St-Germain

1 ounce ginger-infused dry vermouth

Shake and strain into a glass

Bartender Heather Mojer says that although this drink is popular with women, men order it, too. “It’s also good on the rocks,’’ she says, adding that the drink’s proportions were inspired by the Prohibition-era cocktail the Last Word.

Bottom line: Hungry Mother’s bar staff simply numbers its drinks. If I were to name this cocktail, I’d call it “The Scurvy Cure.’’ It tastes like biting into a grapefruit — the gingery vermouth and vodka round out the flavor.

Or try: Mixing Aperol, local Berkshire Greylock gin, and Fever Tree bitter lemon soda results in the medicinal, stunning orange No. 62 ($10).

LE GASTON 76

$10 at Ten Tables

597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain

In the mix:

1 bottle Lillet infused with 10 sprigs of tarragon for 24 hours

1 English cucumber chopped into ¼ inch cubes

1 slice lemon

Layer a 9-ounce rocks glass with cucumbers, top with lemon wheel, then fill with 1 serving of Lillet.

“The idea behind the Gaston 76 is to bring you to Provence,’’ says wine director Stanislas Hilbert. “The tarragon has that nice anise flavor reminiscent of Pastis, the French national aperitif. I also wanted a savory note to the drink to contrast the sweetness of the Lillet, so sliced fresh cucumber finishes the drink.’’

Bottom line: The most subtly refreshing of the group, with hints of tarragon mingling with a clean vegetal profile, this one is most remarkable for its tiered construction in the glass.

Or try: The JP Jam ($10). This daiquiri variation made with key lime-infused rum, wild strawberry liqueur, and spiced with black pepper, also has a balsamic reduction coating the glass that complements the strawberry flavor nicely.

DARK AND SLIGHTLY OVERCAST

$8.50 at Savant Project

1625 Tremont St., Boston

In the mix:

2 ounces peach-infused dark rum

Ginger beer (the bar uses Barritt’s)

Fill three-fourths of a glass with ginger beer, top with the rum. Garnish with a lime.

“All the cool hipster bars have Dark and Stormies,’’ manager Maureen Hautaniemi says. “This is our take on the standard drink.’’

Bottom line: Smooth sailing. The peach flavor plays nice with the ginger beer for a subtle twist on the classic seaside sipper.

THE CONEY ISLAND STRONG MAN

$9 at Coppa

253 Shawmut Ave., Boston.

In the mix:

1 ounce yellow chartreuse

1 ounce green chartreuse

¾ ounce lemon juice

1 Miller High Life pony

Served on the rocks in a tall novelty mug.

“It’s something that people haven’t seen before,’’ says general manager Courtney Bissonnette. “We saw a little bit of a surge with Micheladas, another version of it. A lot of people squeeze lime or lemon into their beer anyway. This does all of that for you, but we mixed a little extra booze in.’’

Bottom line: Chartreuse makes everything better, and the lager here explodes with sweetly herbaceous goodness.

Or try: Juventus’ Cup ($9). Made with Pimm’s No. 1, cucumber lemonade, and lemon-lime soda, it’s a brilliantly crisp, bright, and lightly spiced variation on a Pimm’s Cup.

GUAVA GUANABANA

$12 at Sushi-Teq

510 Atlantic Ave., Boston

In the mix:

1 ounce Corzo Reposado Tequila

2 ounces Guava Nectar

2 ounces Guanabana Juice

1 ounce Agave Nectar

“Guava Guanabana is a very light, fruity, and super refreshing cocktail on the sweeter side,’’ says bar manager Christina Altieri. “The guava gives it a real tropical feel and you don’t even realize you’re drinking tequila.’’

Bottom line: No dispute here. The sweetness of the fruits almost mask the tequila too well. This one is gone in a flash.

Or try: Agave Negro ($12). Made with Milagro silver tequila, lime juice, Crème de Cassis, and fresh blackberries, it’s a darker fruit margarita with a thick berry sweetness.

CALAMANSI COLLINS

$9 at Trina’s Starlite Lounge

3 Beacon St., Somerville

In the mix:

1 1/2 ounces Thai basil-infused gin

¾ ounce calamansi juice (sweetened to taste with simple syrup)

Soda water

Shake juice and gin and fold in soda water as you pour it over ice. Garnish with Thai basil.

“I’ve been working with calamansi juice for years,’’ co-owner Beau Sturm says. “It really is nature’s sour mix.’’

Bottom line: The calmansi is a citrus fruit popular in Southeast Asia (and Somerville, apparently), and it’s a great foil for the spicy, anise-y basil in this Thai take on the traditional Tom Collins.

Courtney Hollands can be reached at chollands@boston.com. Globe Correspondent Luke O’Neil also contributed.