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 cool beverages which requires recipes, creative ideas, and the right kitchen tools and small appliances to make some creative libations right at home.
Getting started with a drink set up
Some of the staple drinks I always have in my house for both the family and guests include 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.
Speaking of entertaining, when we have large groups over, I love to set up beverage/juice dispensers with clear labels so guests know what’s in each along with plastic or paper cups for easy pouring and drinking. Serve fresh juice (homemade lemonade is a favourite) and 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 for my husband and I.
Even if it’s just the immediate family at home, on a hot summer Sunday or special occasion in the summer, we might decide to go all out and make special drinks, whether it’s a fresh fruit smoothie after a big day of soccer in the backyard or some homemade margaritas for the adults at night.
But what do you need to make them?
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, along with a portable ice maker if you don’t have a refrigerator that makes ice. A portable ice maker is a great way to ensure you always have lots of ice on hand when you need it.
Fresh or frozen in-season fruit is good to have on hand for blended drinks. Through the year, I like to take fruits that are about to go bad, from bananas to 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.
Blended drink ideas
- I love mango and pineapple with oat milk or orange juice, which affords a refreshing, citrus taste, topped with a pineapple piece on top (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.
If, like me, you love classic mojitos and margaritas, you’ll need a cocktail shaker and for a mojiti, 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, which 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 or for guests at a gathering to 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, from blueberries to strawberries, watermelon, mango, orange – you name it. 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 if necessary, 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), 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 to ensure 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.
There’s nothing quite like a delicious ice cream cone or sundae on a hot summer day, but 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 and adding toppings later, including everything from fruit to nuts, coconut flakes, cookie dough bits, chocolate or caramel sauce, and more.
Milkshake drink ideas:
- Blend homemade (or store bought) vanilla ice cream with caramel and top with nuts and whipped cream.
- Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to root beer 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.
Sodas are a fun option for hot days, and it’s always better to make your own. You can accomplish this with a soda or sparkling water maker which simply takes filtered water and, in a few seconds, turns it into a carbonated drink using the 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 the kids, make your own homemade versions of favourite soda using low-sugar syrups that parents will appreciate versus the sugary store-bought versions.
Soda and sparkling drink ideas:
- Take canned or bottled carbonated water (or 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.
The drink options are endless
From carbonated to fruit juices, smoothies to milkshakes, the satisfying 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.
Whether you’re entertaining family, friends, and neighbours or just enjoying family time at home, kicking back in the backyard, by the pool, or on the front porch, 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 for you. 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 as you like them. Once you have the perfect recipes, jot them down so you can make them again and again.
Find plenty of small appliances to help you make the perfect cool beverages for the hot summer at Best Buy online.