It’s summertime, and the sippin’ is easy. But if you plan on day-drinking under the hot sun, you better pace yourself. Might we suggest a low-ABV cocktail? Using vermouths, liqueurs, and sparkling wines, these drinks pack all the flavor of a regular cocktail but with less alcohol, making them a perfect fit for long, lazy days by the pool or extended backyard revelry. Here are five fresh takes on low-ABV cocktails, plus two classics, that will quench your thirst and keep you upright all summer long.
Created by: Tim Harris, Burke & Wills, New York
1.5 oz Aperitivo Cappelletti (or substitute a 50/50 mix of Aperol and Campari)
1.5 oz. dry white wine
1.5 oz. club soda
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Directions: Build in a large wine glass with ice, and stir. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
Created by: Enzo Cangemi, Babbalucci, New York
1.25 oz. Frangelico
1/4 oz. coffee syrup
2 dashes chocolate mole bitters
Directions: Build in a champagne flute. Top off with chilled prosecco.
Created by: Pamela Wiznitzer, Seamstress, New York
2 oz. Campari
1 oz. Perfect Puree Blood Orange
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
Splash Soda Water
Directions: Build drink in a Collins glass, add ice, and stir. Garnish with the orange chip clipped to the side of the glass.
Created by: Jacques Bezuidenhout, Wildhawk, San Francisco; Photo by Amanda Picotte
2 oz. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Blanc
1/2 oz. Mathilde Pear Liqueur
1/2 oz. lemon
2 dashes orange bitters
Directions: Build in a highball glass with ice, and stir. Garnish with lemon wheel & rosemary sprig.
Photo by Amanda Picotte
750 ml. Prosecco DOC
750 ml. Campari
750 ml. La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Rouge
1 cup fresh fruit (sliced oranges, apples, raspberries, optional)
Directions: Add the sweet vermouth and Campari to a punch bowl filled with large ice cubes. Add fresh fruit and top with the Prosecco DOC. Stir gently and serve.
Created by Gaspare Campari, Milan, Italy; Photo by Jim Sabataso
1.5 oz. Campari
1.5 oz. sweet vermouth
Directions: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add Campari and vermouth. Top off with soda. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.
Photo by Jim Sabataso
3 parts prosecco (or any dry sparkling wine)
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda
Directions: Add ice and prosecco to a white wine or rocks glass. Add soda. Pour Aperol over the top. Garnish with an orange slice.
Jim Sabataso is a writer, cocktail enthusiast, and bar director for The Palms Restaurant in Rutland, Vermont. Follow him on Twitter @JimSabataso>