8 Amazing Summer Drinks – for Kids and Adults Alike!

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, in which case you’re probably already much cooler than the rest of us, then you’ve heard the talk about how this summer is the hottest on record. Of course, most people have been claiming that since the end of the Ice Age, but this summer is backed by some pretty serious scientific data. Even your great-aunt Gertrude reminiscing about the summer of ’37 will have a hard time topping that.  So what do you do when even your goldfish seems to be sweating in the summer heat? If you ask us, few things can cool you down like cold, refreshing summertime drinks. With that in mind, we’ve picked a few of our favorite summer drinks to help you beat the heat.

From citrusy spritzers to frozen slushies, these eight deliciously cool drinks will make your temperature drop as soon as the ice hits the glass. Best of all, each of these soon-to-be summertime favorites are perfect for the kiddos, but can be made with a special grown-up twist if you’re looking for some extra summertime “relaxation.”

1. Homemade Lemonade done four ways (plus one for the grown-ups)

Lemonade

Few things define summer like a cold glass of lemonade. And if you thought that making your own had to be time-intensive, think again. Parts of this simple summer recipe can be made ahead so that mixing up a fresh pitcher takes hardly any time at all. Try it next time a friend drops by – they’ll be impressed, I promise.

Simple Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Stir water and sugar over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Allow sugar to dissolve, then remove from heat and cool completely.

NOTE: Simple syrup can be made in larger batches and stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons)

4-5 cups cold water

Ice

Once the simple syrup has cooled completely, add all ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher and stir. That’s it. You’re done. And now your friends think you are a culinary genius. It’s a win-win.

 

Want to impress them more? Try these twists on the classic.

Basil-Lemon Simple Syrup:

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 cup fresh basil leaves

3-4 strips lemon peel

Heat all ingredients on medium-high until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes for flavors to infuse. Strain out all solids and cool completely before adding fresh lemon juice and water. Adjust water and ice as desired.

 

Lavender-Infused Simple Syrup:

2 cups boiling water

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. dried lavender flowers or a small handful of freshly picked and cleaned flowers

Place the sugar and lavender in a medium-sized bowl and gently crush the flowers into the sugar to allow the flavors to blend. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the mixture and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to infuse for 30 minutes and cool completely before adding to your lemon juice and water. Adjust water and ice as desired.

 

Strawberry Lemonade:

1 ½ cups strawberries, cleaned and trimmed

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Combine strawberries and lemon juice in the blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve if you want to remove seeds. Add to your simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and water – and voila!  Strawberry lemonade is served.

 

For the adults:

Turn any of these lemonade creations into a cocktail with a splash of vodka or gin to taste. For a fizzier approach, mix one-part lemonade with two-parts champagne or sparkling wine.

 

2. Sangria – one for the kids and one for you

Sangria

Sangria is perhaps one of the best-known summer drinks – for adults, that is. But with its overload of fresh fruit and oh-so-refreshing flavors, there’s no need to leave the kids out. Try this version of a kid-friendly sangria, then read on to find out how to kick it up a notch for the grown-ups in the crowd.

Ingredients:

4 cups white grape juice

¼ cup blueberries

¾ cup orange juice

¼ pineapple juice

¼ cup fresh lime (or lemon) juice

2 limes, sliced

2 oranges, sliced

1 large lemon, sliced

1 cup strawberries, trimmed and quartered

 

NOTE: Use any of your favorite fruits to infuse your sangria mixture. You may also want to try peaches, whole blueberries, diced apples or pineapple chunks.

Add the grape juice and blueberries to a blender and blend until smooth. (The blueberries will add a pretty, purple-red color to the mixture.) Combine the grape-blueberry mixture with the other liquids in a large pitcher and add fresh fruit. Allow to chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

For a fizzy finish, add 2 cups of club soda, ginger ale or lemon-lime soda (like Sprite) just before serving. Pour over ice or serve as is. Garnish with fresh fruit slices.

For the adults:
Replace the white grape juice with 3 ¼ cups dry red wine (approximately one 750 ml bottle), ½ cup brandy and ½ cup triple sec. Mix and chill as described above. To add some fizz, try the carbonated beverages listed for the kid-friendly version, or top with 2 cups champagne.

 

3. Melon Spritzer with a Punch

Melon Spritzer

I love summer fruits – and melons are among my favorites. But there aren’t many cantaloupe-flavored drinks out there, and probably with good reason. That’s why I love this fizzy, refreshing drink. It offers a tasty base that soaks up the flavor of summer’s best melons – and looks mighty good doing it.

Ingredients:

3 cups white grape juice

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 cup lemonade (see recipe above)

1 small honeydew melon

1 small cantaloupe

1 small seedless watermelon

15-20 fresh mint leaves (optional)

2 cups club soda or ginger ale

 

Mix grape juice, lime juice and lemonade in a large pitcher. Use a melon baller or small scoop to make about 2 cups of melon balls for each melon. Place melon balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and freeze for 1 hour. Once frozen, add as many frozen melon balls as desired to the pitcher along with the (optional) mint leaves and let sit for 30 minutes. Just before serving, top with club soda or ginger ale. When serving, scoop melon balls out of the pitcher as needed to evenly distribute among each glass. Add additional frozen melon to keep your drinks cool. Garnish with lime slices and/or mint.

 

For the adults:

Add 1 ½ cups light rum to the grape, lime and lemonade mixture. Follow the rest of the directions above and enjoy!

 

4. Orange-Infused Sweet Tea

Orange Sweet Tea

While it may not be a formal rule, I’m fairly confident that you can’t write an article about summer drinks in the south and NOT include sweet tea. Sweet tea is the stuff of southern legend – and while this subtle citrus recipe may not be your grandma’s sweet tea, it doesn’t disappoint.

Ingredients:

4 cups boiling water

3 family-sized black tea bags (we used Lipton) or 12 regular tea bags

1 cup of sugar (or substitute with honey to taste)

2 oranges, sliced

4 cups cold water

Ice

 

Orange-soda splash:

2 cups orange juice

1 cup club soda

Mint leaves and orange slices for garnish.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in small saucepan. Add tea bags, sugar and orange slices to the water and remove from heat. Using a large spoon, press the oranges to release flavor and allow the mixture to steep for 3-5 minutes (longer for a stronger flavor). Remove tea bags and stir to make sure sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool. Fill a large pitcher with ice, pour the orange-tea mixture over the ice and fill with water (approximately 4 cups to make ½ gallon).

When serving, divide the tea among 8 glasses and top with evenly with orange-soda splash. Garnish with mint and orange slices.

 

For the adults:

Splash a little bourbon on top…you’ll thank me later.

 

5. Watermelon Slushies

Watermelon Slush

Watermelon implies refreshment in the name alone. Far from plain “water” though, this summertime fruit is as sweet as it is refreshing. Add ice and a blender and this may be the new go-to for everyone in your family when the outside temperatures start to rise.

Ingredients:

6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed

1 cup ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda)

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. sugar

Ice

Mix watermelon, ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda), lime juice, lemon juice and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. If you can’t find a seedless watermelon or find that you still have seeds in the mixture, you may want to strain it into a pitcher to remove any solids. Add ice to the blender, then pour the desired amount of watermelon mixture over top and blend until ice is completely crushed. Depending on how “slushy” you like your slushies (and how big your blender is), you may need to mix in batches. Repeat the steps until the entire watermelon mixture is blended with ice and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh watermelon slices.

 

For the adults:

Add ¼ cup of vodka and 3-4 splashes of bitters to the watermelon mixture before blending with ice. If you really want to kick things up a notch, garnish with watermelon slices that have been splashed with vodka and chilled for 30 minutes.

 

6. Peach Ginger Mojito Fizz

Peach Fizz

Peaches, ginger and hint of lime? Yes, please. In fact, make mine a double. This incredibly flavorful blend brings together three of my favorite things in a drink that the whole family can enjoy. The best part is that even if your peaches have gone a little to the riper side of ripe, they’ll make this drink that much better.

Ginger-Peach Simple Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 medium-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped or grated (about 2-3 Tbsp.)

2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and steep for 25-30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve to remove peach bits and ginger, then allow to cool.

 

Ingredients:

6 small limes, juiced

2 liters (approximately) club soda or seltzer water

About 20 mint leaves

2-3 peaches, sliced for garnish

In a large pitcher, muddle lime juice and mint leaves. Add the simple syrup and top with club soda or seltzer. Serve over ice with 2-3 fresh peach slices.

 

For the adults:

To turn this from a mocktail to a cocktail, add 2 cups of rum to the mixture before adding the club soda. Or replace the club soda with your choice of champagne or sparkling wine.

 

7. Rainbow Layered Mango Strawberry Lemonade

Rainbow Layered Lemonade

Because it’s summer, and because we can’t get enough of frozen drinks, we bring you a rainbow layered treat that’s as pretty to look at it as it is delicious to drink. What makes this drink especially fun is that you can play around with flavors and colors to create the combination you like best.

Ingredients:

2 cups mango puree (or use a premade mango “smoothie” like Naked Juice Mighty Mango)

2 cups strawberry puree (blend 1 ½ – 2lbs fresh or frozen strawberries, juice from 1 lemon and 1/3 cup sugar)

2 cups lemonade

Ice

Combine mango puree with 2-3 cups of ice in a blender. Blend until the liquid reaches a fairly firm level of slushiness (add ice as needed but don’t use too much as it will water down the flavor). Pour into a large plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer or keep chilled until ready to serve. Repeat with the strawberry puree, then the lemonade, keeping each flavor in a separate bag. When you’re ready to serve, start with the mango mix and make sure it is slushy, but not liquid. Cut a corner of your freezer bag and gently squeeze even amounts into eight glasses. Follow with the strawberry lemonade mix, making sure that the layers stay separate. Repeat with the regular lemonade until all eight glasses have three layers. Garnish with strawberries as desired.

NOTE: Try other layered flavors such as mango-lemonade (equal parts mango puree or smoothie and lemonade) pineapple-ginger (equal parts pineapple juice and ginger), blueberry-lemonade (2 cups lemonade blended with ½ cup blueberries), or any other flavor you’d like to try.

 

For the adults:

Add 3-4 ounces of vodka to each batch of slushy, but make sure you don’t leave the resulting drink unattended – if the kids don’t know its for adults only, it will be too pretty for them to resist.

 

8. Grapefruit and Rosemary Spritzer

Grapefruit-Rosemary

Citrus and herbs may not be the first things you think of to blend together in a drink, but with tart grapefruit and fragrant rosemary, this summertime spritzer will make you think again. Serve this at the next block party and you’ll be the talk of the town.

Rosemary Simple Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

4-5 sprigs rosemary

Combine water and sugar and heat until sugar dissolves.  Add the rosemary and lower the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 20-30 minutes before removing the rosemary. Cool completely before serving.

 

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, remove seeds but leave pulp, if desired

Seltzer (or lemon-lime soda if extra sweetness is needed for the kids)

For this drink, you’ll want to make each one individually. Simply add some ice to a glass, pour in 1 Tbsp. of the rosemary simple syrup, 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of grapefruit juice and top with seltzer or lemon-lime soda. Garnish with rosemary, grapefruit wedges or grapefruit peel.

 

For the adults:

Follow the instructions above, but add 2 ounces of gin for a grown-up drink you won’t soon forget (as long as you drink them responsibly, of course).

 

With backyard barbecues in full swing, back-to-school parties underway and Labor Day festivities just around the corner, now is the perfect time to discover your new favorite summer drink. Let us know which of these you like the most or pass along a few suggestions of your own.

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Anna Strock
Anna is the head writer and Editor-in-Chief at Richmond Mom. She has spent the last 18 years writing, directing creative projects, and trying to be the best mom possible to her three girls. When she's not exploring Richmond for the latest and greatest resources, offerings, and activities, she can be found daydreaming on travel blogs, drinking too much coffee, and running kids to endless activities.