Notes From the Road: Summer Cocktails for Drinking Outdoors

There is nothing I love more than drinking a slightly sweet, refreshing summer cocktail, preferably on an outdoor patio or my own back porch here in Montana’s Yellowstone Country (hey, you gotta take the vitamin D whenever you can get it, whether by drinking or by sunning). Here are my favorite summer cocktails that are easier to make and can be done with just a few ingredients:

Huckleberry Lemonade

I know this is a drink unique to this area because when I was in Texas last September, I tried to order it and the bartender said he’d never heard of huckleberry vodka. The best part about it is it’s so easy to make, you might have to hide the lemonade so you don’t drink all the vodka.

• 4 oz. Huckleberry Vodka (or any fruit flavored vodka if huckleberries aren’t local to you)

• 6 oz. lemonade (either pre-mixed or mixed by you)

• lemon wedge

• ice

Pour vodka over ice. Add lemonade. Garnish with lemon wedge. Drink slowly (otherwise you’ll drink quickly and be asleep by 3pm).

Moscow Mule

A drink I’d never heard of until I came to Yellowstone Country, the Moscow Mule is straight up refreshing. The mint, the ginger beer and the faint trace of vodka make it my absolute favorite drink on those really hot Montana afternoons. Serve in a copper mug for extra fanciness.

• 1 oz. vodka

• 1 fat lime wedge

• ½ cup ginger beer (Cock ‘N Bull is our favorite here, but use whatever is in the grocery store)

• sprig of mint (for that pretty factor)

• ice


1. In a copper mug, pour vodka over a full mug of ice.

2. Squeeze lime into mug and drop peel in.

3. Add ginger beer.

4. Stir with a straw and garnish with sprig of mint. Try not to make 10 more (I dare you).

Summer Sangria

Summer is hardly complete without sangria and, because you’re very lucky, I’ve given you my very secret sangria recipe (stolen from my college cookbook. … you’re welcome).

This batch makes 8 glasses or 4 super-sized glasses (and is the perfect snack/drink combination for a day on the river).

• 6 cups assorted fruits, cut in bit sized pieces(my favorite are strawberries, peaches, nectarines, and oranges)

• 1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger

• 1 cup fresh basil or mint

• 1/2 cup Cointreau (orange liqueur)

• 1 bottle crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio

• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

• ice


1. In a bowl, combine all the fruit, ginger, basil/mint and Cointreau. Lightly stir or mash so the fruits release their juices.

2. Add white wine and lemon juice.

3. Refrigerate for one hour to let everything combine. Pour over ice and have a delicious afternoon outdoors.

What are your favorite summer drinks? Tell us in the comments below.