Hot summer cocktails

A few timely drinks to help you stay cool

Three (er, four) cheers: Clockwise from top left: DCR’s Red Strap, Mandarin Oriental’s cucumber and cilantro margarita, Sidebar’s Southern Belle, Herbs and Rye’s Moscow Mule.
Photo: Beverly Poppe


What I'm drinking this summer...
“Aperol and soda. Brilliant!” -George Sproule, bartender, Downtown Cocktail Room
"Honestly, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold Coors Light next to the pool.” -Michael Lapenna, bartender, Mandarin Bar
“Water. Lots of water.” - Nectaly Mendoza owner, Herbs & Rye

Vegas summer—a time of hot nights and hotter days. When the combined efforts of air conditioning and minimal clothing aren’t enough to keep you cool, Vegas cocktail bars are equipped with libations that just might do the trick. With summer looming, we hit five local nightspots to see what they’re serving.

Few things say summer more than an icy margarita, and Mandarin Oriental’s 23rd floor bar serves a cucumber and cilantro rendition made with reposado tequila that tastes like a walk in the garden. For an extra kick, bartender Michael Lapenna garnishes it with a jalapeño pepper.

A different sort of spice plays in Herbs and Rye’s summer-cocktail leader, the Moscow Mule. The classic cocktail is a blend of Ketel 1 vodka, fresh lime and Cock ’N Bull ginger beer that’s strained over a frosty mound of chipped ice and served in a throwback copper mug. More than a period-appropriate gimmick, the shiny mug keeps the drink cold. Just don’t try to take it home with you; they’re hard to replace.

Mojitos have been everywhere in recent years, and this summer, local bars are taking the Cuban staple in a variety of new directions. At Sidebar, lead bartender Jerry Vargas heads to the South for the Southern Belle, made with Elijah Craig Bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, peach liqueur, Orange Curacao, muddled mint and a splash of soda. When peaches come into season, he’ll be muddling them in, as well. The Mirage’s Rhumbar is also serving a summer cocktail with mojito ambitions. Kristin Schaefer’s the Cooler muddles fresh grapefruit, lime, orange and mint with rock candy, adding Bacardi O and a splash of Sprite for a drink on the tropical side of the spectrum.

Summer drinking doesn’t have to go sweet and herbal, however. “People in my shoes are really digging bitter stuff,” says George Sproule of Downtown Cocktail Room. DCR’s summer menu will feature the Red Strap, a crisp tequila-based cocktail whose name is a play on two of its primary flavors, strawberries and Aperol. Order, sip, repeat and beat the heat.

Make it yourself

Red Strap, Downtown Cocktail Room

1 1/2 oz Partida Tequila Blanco

1 oz Aperol

1/2 oz Amber Agave Nectar, diluted 50 percet with water

1/4 oz Aceto Balsamico de Modena

2 Strawberries, hulled and halved

Kaffir Lime Tincture in a spray bottle


Muddle strawberries with Balsamico, add remaining ingredients. Single strain into couple glass. Mist with Kaffir Lime, or any other citrus tincture will work. Garnish with a lime wheel or twist.

Rhumbar's refreshing spin on a summer cocktail: The Cooler.

Rhumbar's refreshing spin on a summer cocktail: The Cooler.

The Cooler, Rhumbar

1 Grapefruit wedge

1 Lime wheel

1 Orange wheel

10 Mint leaves

¾ Rock candy

1.5 oz Bacardi O

Splash of Sprite


Muddle together the grapefruit, lime, orange, mint and rock candy in a zombie glass. Add rum and stir. Add a splash of Sprite and garnish with a mint sprig.

Photo of Sarah Feldberg

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