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8 Refreshing Summer Cocktails to Add to Your North County Must-Try List

Summer is finally here! While our thoughts naturally drift to riding beach cruisers and surfing in the sun, there are other, more convivial forms of enjoyment that are literally sipped and savored in the form of Summer Cocktails.

We’ve done the hard work of tasting a broad range of drinks (no need to thank us) and have come up with a starter list of 8 Essential Summer Cocktails. This is by no means the “Be All End All” list, but it’s a nice healthy start. There’s always more research to do. In fact, we’re already working on a follow-up list right now! It’s the least we can do for you, our favorite North County Neighbors.

For now, here are 8 Essential Summer Cocktails for your savoring pleasure.

1. Surfer in Panama | Masters

Surfer in Panama | Masters

Surfer in Panama at Masters Kitchen and Cocktail (Photo: Jarnard Sutton)

The Surfer in Panama is a tiki-inspired cocktail… the perfect drink for a hot summer day. It also happens to be owner Ryan Jubela’s favorite drink at his place. We totally understand why! The earthy tones of the drink reminds us of a distant island sunset. The key component in this tropical treat is the Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum. It’s distilled from molasses and aged up to five years and carries the tropical flavors of banana and spice. They add Meletti Amaro and Luxardo Marischino, plus a bit of fresh pineapple as the final touch that will have you dreaming of sailing away into the sunset.

2. Snake in the Grass | Searsucker Del Mar

Coming across a snake in the grass on a hot summer hike is not something to get excited about. Coming across a Snake in the Grass at the bar at Searsucker in Del Mar IS! Made with house-infused cucumber gin, bruised mint, lime, and soda, you’ll enjoy this summer refreshment without the nasty bite. $12

3. Blackberry Bramble | Urge Gastropub & Common House

Blackberry Bramble | Urge Commonhouse

Blackberry Brumble at Urge Commonhouse (Photo: Sugar Jones)

With all the talk of bowling, burgers, and beer, we want to point out that Urge also has a great drink menu. It’s true! Urge Commonhouse has a full menu of White Russians at the Big Lebowski bar in the bowling alley that we “urge” you to check out (mwah mwaaaah), but since we’re talking about essential summer cocktails today, we went with something a little breezier. With that in mind, we present the Blackberry Brumble. This pretty little thing is made with Plymouth Gin, Giffard Blackberry, blackberry syrup, lemon juice, and a fresh sprig of sage that makes for a cleansing aromatic finish.

4. Paloma Iceberg | The Flying Pig

Paloma Iceberg at Flying Pig (Photo: Sugar Jones)

The cocktail menu at The Flying Pigs (Oceanside and Vista) rivals their actual food menu. If you haven’t stopped in for a drink, put these guys on your list. If it’s your first time, or even fifty-first time, make sure to try the Paloma Iceberg this summer. This drink starts with frozen blocks of freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, then two ounces of Repozado is poured on top. Add some fresh lime juice and house made simple syrup and your heart will flutter like a peaceful little palomita in paradise.

5. Summer Cello | Chandler’s

SummerCello | Chandler's

Summercello at Chandler’s (Photo: Sugar Jones)

Chandler’s has introduced several new drinks to their menu for the summer. It was hard to decide on our favorite, but we’re going with the Summer Cello, partly because it’s the perfect poolside sipper, and partly because we wanted a Prosecco drink on the list. This light and effervescent cocktail is made with Prosecco, Limoncello, and Chambord.  And if you’re going to hang out in a cabana by the pool all summer (which is open to local residents now, too), Prosecco seems the most perfectly suited companion.

6. The Bees Knees | The Roxy Encinitas

Listening to live music on Coast Highway is a darn good way to spend a summer afternoon. One of our favorite places to check out local and traveling singer/songwriters and bands is at The Roxy. The soulful sounds of some of the performers are sweet as honey… which is why our essential summer pick at The Roxy is The Bees Knees. Start with Bar Hill Honey Gin (made from actual honey), add fresh lemon juice, honey ginger syrup, and honey rim. Because why not have more honey? The drink is garnished with an edible flower, so you can do what the bees do and make a beautiful flower your lunch!

7. Smoked Date | Campfire

Smoked Date Cocktail at Campfire (Photo provided)

The decor and menu at this Carlsbad hotspot is a stylish ode to all the best of the great outdoors, including the tastes and aromas of eating around a campfire. The newest addition to their cocktail menu at Campfire comes from their “From the Fire” Cocktails selection that includes several other drinks that incorporate ingredients from the food menu. The Smoked Date cocktail includes Black Barrel Rum infused with Cold Smoked Medjool Dates; Amontillado Sherry; Trail Mix syrup made from roasted/salted peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and raisins mixed with a touch of coconut syrup; and fresh squeezed lemon juice. We think this drink is quite the sipping adventure. Happy Trails!

8. Sweet Heat | Land & Water

Sweet Heat was already on my list of essential summer cocktails when I put out a call to locals and friends for recommendations. It was mentioned several times by those like me who’ve made Land & Water, not only their go-to spot for sushi, but also their new favorite watering hole. Made with jalapeno, this spicy concoction definitely brings the heat. Add in some tequila and fresh local strawberries and you’ll be sipping on the patio all summer long.

PS: This drink pairs wonderfully with the Water Roll.

Your Turn…

At which North County local venue do you find your favorite drink?

Sugar Jones: Sugar Jones has been blogging about life since 2008. She has contributed to various local news stations for lifestyle segments, speaking about tech, social media, travel, food, and family.