Cold drinks from a soda maker

I love entertaining in the summer, or simply sitting outside and soaking up the sun on a lazy Sunday with the family. I also love experimenting with cold treats and beverages. To do so, I use various recipes, creative ideas, and the right kitchen tools and small appliances. With the right equipment, you can make some creative libations right at home.

Getting started with cool beverages

I always have bottled and canned drinks, juice boxes, and mini cans of soda. While I don’t typically buy bottled water, it’s good to have in the house for entertaining. Just don’t forget to recycle the bottles after.

When we have large groups over, I love to set up beverage/juice dispensers with clear labels so guests know what’s in each. I’ll also offer paper cups for easy pouring and drinking. Serve fresh juice (homemade lemonade is a favourite). Direct adults to the bar where they can top off a glass with a selection of preferred spirits if desired.

For smaller parties, I love to make fresh mixed or blended drinks, too, instead of buying pre-made mixes. One of my favourites is mojitos, which I make with fresh mint from my garden. (Mint is perfect as well for helping keep pests away from your plants). Homemade margaritas are also a guest favourite and an occasional indulgence on a hot summer weekend.

But what do you need to make all these delicious drinks, and what other ideas can you experiment with?

Blenders are so versatile

Vitamix 6500 blender

For blended drinks, you’ll need a full-sized blender or, if it’s just you, a personal blender to create delicious and refreshing concoctions. I have a Vitamix at home like the Vitamix 6500 blender. It works beautifully for everything from smoothies to frozen drinks. It has three settings, a large container for making big batches, and a powerful motor for crushing through ice.

Fresh or frozen in-season fruit is good to have on hand for blended drinks. I take fruits that are about to go bad, like bananas, strawberries, and blueberries, and place them in Ziplock bags in the freezer to use for smoothie mixes. You’ll also need a liquid to mix with them, like fruit juice, milk, or milk alternatives like almond, soy, or oat milk. There are endless combinations you can make with the option to add spirits or keep it non-alcoholic.

If you frequently make large batches, you might want to consider a portable ice maker as well. A portable ice maker is a great way to ensure you always have lots of ice on hand when you need it.

Get help finding the perfect blender to meet your needs in our blenders and juicers buying guide.

Blended drink ideas

  • I love mango and pineapple with oat milk or orange juice. It affords a refreshing, citrus taste. Top it off with a pineapple piece and a tiny umbrella if you really want to go with a tropical theme. Add spinach or kale for a health-conscious green smoothie.
  • My son loves simple smoothies with ice, milk, mangoes, and blueberries.
  • For an alcoholic spin, consider pineapples, milk, and coconut rum for your own homemade Pina Colada.
  • Simplify the process with a margarita slush machine that can make a gallon at a time for entertaining.

Juicers for health-conscious indulgences

Breville Juice Fountain Cold Centrifugal Juicer

There’s nothing quite like a fresh glass of orange juice in the morning, squeezed right from the source. A juicer will come in handy to simplify this process. You can use softer oranges and even hard vegetables like carrots and beets, or harder fruits like apples to make all types of creations. Add ice or store in the fridge for a day or two, mix, and drink for a healthy energy boost.

Breville is known for its juicers as much as its espresso machines and the Breville Juice Fountain Cold Centrifugal Juicer will be a welcome addition to the kitchen. The mesh filter helps reduce heat to retain all the important vitamins and minerals you don’t want to lose from fruits and vegetables as they are juiced. Along with the aforementioned buying guide, learn more about the difference between a centrifugal and masticating juicer to ensure you pick the right one for your home.

Juicer drink ideas

  • A good apple, spinach, and carrot mix with a dash of turmeric is a nice, healthy boost.
  • Go for a basic orange juice with nothing but fresh oranges and water.
  • For a healthy green juice, mix kale, spinach, and apples with a bit of ginger and a squeeze of lime on ice.

Iced coffee is perfect in the morning or with dessert

De'Longhi La Specialista Arte Evo Automatic Espresso Machine with Frother & Coffee Grinder

Hot coffee in the summer doesn’t sound so appealing, but iced coffee? Sign me up! You can get a dedicated iced coffee maker. For those who love the simplicity and quick service, the Keurig K-Iced coffee maker is a fantastic choice. But some of the latest espresso machines like the DeLonghi Magnifica Evo, I reviewed last year can make iced coffee drinks, too. I’ll typically make an iced coffee-based drink from freshly grounded beans (it grinds right in the machine) with a milk alternative. Sometimes, I add a shot of salted caramel. I’ll drink it at home or take with me in a Thermos to sip on during my son’s evening softball games.

Iced coffee drinks provide a perfect kick in the morning, too. Indulge while you work from home on the patio or to take it in your travel mug to drink on the way to the office. After dinner, an iced coffee to go along with dessert is the perfect companion. Learn more about espresso machines and making cold brew in our coffee maker and espresso machines buying guide.

Iced coffee ideas

  • Make two shots of espresso with oat milk and a shot of salted caramel flavoured syrup.
  • Black iced coffee on its own is a great pick-me-up.
  • Cold brew coffee over ice with a shot of Bailey’s and a dash of cinammon is a dessert and indulgence on its own.

Homemade sparkling water soda is the ultimate refresher

Breville InFizz Fusion

Sodas and sparkling water drinks are a fun option for hot days. If possible, it’s always better to make your own. You can accomplish this with a soda or sparkling water maker. These machines take filtered water and, in a few seconds, turns it into a carbonated drink using a CO2 canister. Start with plain filtered water then add your own flavouring via syrups or fresh fruit and vegetables, like strawberries and cucumbers. Make it ahead, seal and put in the refrigerator to help infuse the flavours. For kids, make your own homemade versions of favourite soda. Use low-sugar syrups that parents will appreciate versus the sugary store-bought versions.

SodaStream is the most known brand in this space, but there are other options. While the Aarke Carbonator 3 sparkling water maker is more expensive than most, I had the pleasure of reviewing it a few years ago. I was thoroughly impressed with everything from the style and elegant look to how well it works without requiring power. There’s also the Breville InFizz Fusion sparkling water maker. It looks just as sleek with a small footprint so you can keep it on the counter in summer than pack it away in a cupboard during the colder winter months. Not only do these machines make healthier soda alternatives, it also reduces waste. You aren’t buying plastic, glass, or cans. Learn more about how they work and the options available in our soda machines buying guide.

Soda and sparkling drink ideas

  • Take fizzy water made with a soda maker, add beer and a squeeze of fresh lime or orange juice for a refreshing drink.
  • Combine lemon/lime soda with orange juice and grenadine for a child-friendly classic take on a Shirley Temple. Add tequila for an amped up Tequila Sunrise-inspired drink for adults.
  • Add fresh fruit to homemade carbonated water and leave in the fridge overnight for refreshing fruit-infused bubbly water.
  • Add cucumbers to homemade carbonated water and place in a beverage/juice dispenser for refreshing hydration.
  • Mix carbonated water with flavoured syrups of all kinds to replicate everything from sodas to fruit juices.

Mixed drinks

Bartesian cocktail machine

If, like me, you love classic mojitos and margaritas, you’ll need a cocktail shaker. For a mojiti, you’ll also need a muddler to crush the mint leaves into the lime juice. You can find sets that include everything you’d need for making a variety of cocktails.

For a simpler option, there are premium cocktail machines like the Bartesian. It works with pods similarly to single-serve coffee machines, infusing various spirits with flavours to instantly create cocktail favourites. Since it’s single serve, it works well if you just want to have a nightly cocktail on your own. But it’s also great for guests at a gathering. Everyone can have their own special mixed drinks without you having to whip each one up from scratch like a bartender.

Mixed drink ideas:

  • Make your own sangria by taking whatever fruit you might have in the house, like blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, mango, and orange. Add a sweet wine and top it off with some carbonated water for a little zing.
  • Save leftover tea and refrigerate it with juice from a quarter lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Take it out once ready to serve and add ice.
  • Squeeze lemons (don’t forget to filter out the seeds), add simple syrup or quick dissolving sugar to taste. Dilute with water and serve homemade lemonade.
  • For a classic mojito, combine about 12 mint leaves with the juice from half a lime (save the other half for garnish). Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (get quick dissolving sugar), 1.5 ounces of white rum, and ½ cup of club soda. Make sure to muddle the lime juice with the mint leaves really well first. This ensures you get as much flavour out of them as possible. Add the club soda last to top up the glass. These are best to make by the glass or two.


Ninja CREAMi Deluxe

A delicious ice cream cone or sundae on a hot summer day isn’t just for kids, adults love them, too! You can turn this trend into a drink as well via a delicious milkshake. Start with an ice cream maker to make your own homemade frozen treat. Then blend it with a variety of toppings for a delectable milkshake that will delight kids and adults. There are also dedicated milkshake makers if you find that they are a frequent enough indulgence in your household to justify investing in one.

While you can make a variety of ice cream flavours in an ice cream maker, consider sticking with basic vanilla. Then add toppings later, including fruit to nuts, coconut flakes, cookie dough bits, chocolate or caramel sauce, and more. Dedicated ice cream makers like the Ninja CREAMi have dedicated modes for ice cream, milkshakes, and even sorbet. It churns to perfection for a creamy result using the dual-drive motors. It’s super easy to clean as well. Alternatively, pt for something like the ice cream maker bowl attachment for your KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s one of the most exciting attachments for this versatile small appliance. Learn more about ice cream makers to help you choose the right one in our ice cream makers buying guide.

Milkshake drink ideas:

  • Blend homemade vanilla ice cream with caramel or Nutella. Top with nuts and whipped cream. Don’t forget the cherry!
  • Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to root beer (or sparkling water with root beet flavour) for a classic root beer float.
  • Combine chocolate ice cream with chunks of fresh or frozen bananas and blend. For added flavour, stir in peanut or other nut or alternative butter.
  • Vanilla ice cream with strawberries and a hint of mint is a refreshing treat.

The drink options are endless

From carbonated to fruit juices, smoothies to milkshakes, the satisfying cold drink option for the summer are endless. In most cases, you can make drinks virgin with no alcohol. Or add your favourite spirit, beer, or even wine for an adult-friendly kick.

Make these drinks in big batches when entertaining family, friends, and neighbours. Or enjoy them on your own at home while kicking back in the backyard, by the pool, or on the front porch. No matter the occasion, a nice, cool drink in hand completes the feeling.

These drink ideas are just the tip of the summer drink iceberg. The world is your oyster. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect combination. If you want a classic drink like a margarita, Tom Collins, or Moscow Mule, Google simple recipes to get inspiration. Grab the ingredients, and taste as you go until you get them just right. Let the kids explore ways to kick up their milkshakes or fresh juices. Once you have the perfect recipes, jot them down so you can make them again and again.

Find plenty of cold treat and beverage appliances to help you make the perfect cool beverages for the hot summer at Best Buy online.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.


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