By Laurel Thompson

Three local mixologists share their favorite summer cocktails for patio season.

There are some drinks that just taste like summer: iced tea, strawberry lemonade and margaritas on the rocks, to name a few. And with so many exceptional restaurants and bars around Northern Colorado, it’s not hard to find the perfect thirst-quencher on a hot afternoon. Whether you love an inventive twist on a classic cocktail or you’re looking to try your bartender’s latest concoction, patio season means there’s something for everyone at these local watering holes.

THE FARMHOUSE AT JESSUP FARM

One of Fort Collins’ most popular farm-to-table restaurants, The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm offers a variety of fresh, seasonal fare. During the summer, many of the dishes and drinks are made with ingredients from the patio garden, including fresh herbs for a variety of house-made infusions, muddles and garnishes. Here are Bar Manager Lauren Raggio Bertrand’s favorite cocktails on the menu this summer:

Whiskey Smash

Ingredients

• ¼ lemon, muddled

• 6-8 mint leaves

• 2 oz. Rebel Yell bourbon

• ¾ oz. simple syrup

Directions

•Muddle lemon

•Slap mint and add to shaker with remaining ingredients

•Shake and strain•

Pour in a rocks glass with ice

•Garnish with a mint bouquet

“ During the summer when we have herbs growing in our garden, we use fresh mint to make this classic whiskey cocktail extra tasty. We also muddle fresh lemon to give it a nice citrus flavor.”

Watermelon Martini

Ingredients

•2 oz. Nue Vodka

•1 ½ oz. watermelon-infused simple syrup•½ oz. ginger liqueur

•½ oz. lemon juice

Directions

•Combine with ice

•Shake and strain

•Pour in a chilled coupe

•Garnish with a lemon wheel

“This is a seasonal drink that we don’t usually have on the menu, but when we do, it’s always a crowd favorite. We usually offer it as a special because we infuse the watermelon syrup in-house and don’t always have it when the fruit isn’t in season.”

Sweet Peach

Ingredients

•1 ½ oz. tea-infused peach vodka

•½ oz. lemon juice•½ oz. ginger liqueur

•½ oz. simple syrup

Directions

•Combine with ice in a shaker

•Shake and strain

•Top with soda

•Pour in a rocks glass with ice

•Garnish with a lemon wedge

“We infuse a peach vodka with tea for about two days to make our Sweet Peach cocktail—it’s actually one of my creations. It’s super yummy and refreshing, and it’s a really easy drinker for anyone who loves a fresh take on sweet tea.”

Blueberry Dreamin’

Ingredients

•1 ½ oz. Nue Vodka

•A small handful of blueberries, muddled

•¾ oz. rosemary simple syrup

•1 oz. lemon juice

•¾ oz. honey syrup

•2 dashes lavender bitters

Directions

•Muddle blueberries with lemon

•Add remainder of ingredients

•Shake and double strain

•Top with club soda

•Pour in a chilled coupe

•Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig and blueberry skewer

“Blueberry Dreamin’ is fruity and refreshing, but not too sweet, with hints of fresh herbs from the garden. We use our house-infused rosemary simple syrup and a honey simple syrup to give it a fresh, balanced flavor.”

PREFER A MOCKTAIL?

Rosemary Lavender Lemonade

(Non-Alcoholic) Order it at The Farmhouse. Make it boozy with 2 oz. of your favorite vodka.

Ingredients

•1 ½ oz. lemon juice

•¾ oz. lavender simple syrup

•½ oz. rosemary simple syrup

•1:1 combination of soda, lemonade and Sierra Mist

Directions

•Combine with ice

•Shake and strain

•Top with equal parts soda, lemonade, Sierra Mist

•Pour in a collins glass

•Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig

“This is a great mocktail for anyone who is pregnant or doesn’t drink and wants something other than water or iced tea. It’s our signature twist on an herbal lemonade with rosemary simple syrup that we make in-house using fresh herbs from the garden during the summer.”

WINDSOR MILL TAVERN

Located inside The Mill, a newly reconstructed 1900-era flour mill on Main Street, Windsor Mill Tavern is the perfect place to unwind on a hot summer day. The garden-level restaurant and bar offers a carefully curated menu of unique dishes and craft cocktails, including these top patio picks from General Manager Bradley Nelson:

Goose in the Garden

Ingredients

•1 ½ oz. Grey Goose Watermelon Basil Vodka

•½ oz. Domaine Canton Ginger Liqueur

•¾ oz. Mizu Lemongrass Shochu

•¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

•1oz. Stubborn Vanilla Agave Cream Soda

Directions

•Build all ingredients in a collins glass and add ice

•Top with a splash of vanilla soda and stir

•Garnish with a dehydrated lemon

“This is a really fun cocktail to mix up during the summer because it’s light, flavorful and easy to crush. The watermelon basil vodka pairs well with the Mizu Lemongrass Shochu, a Japanese rice-based distillate infused with lemongrass, adding a citrusy herbal taste.”

The Mule

Ingredients

•2 oz. Wheatley Vodka

•1 oz. strawberry puree

•½ oz. fresh lime juice

•3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

• 6 oz. Fever-Tree ginger beer

Directions

•Build first four ingredients in a mule mug

•Add ice and stir

•Top off with ginger beer

•Garnish with candied ginger, a fresh strawberry slice and a lime wheel

“The addition of fresh strawberry puree makes The Mule a really fun drink for the summer. In my opinion, Fever-Tree has the best ginger beer out there—it has more of a spicy ginger flavor that isn’t as sweet as others, so it complements the strawberry and gives it a nice, balanced flavor.”

Fulham Palace

Ingredients

•1 oz. Spring 44 Gin

•1 oz. Giffard Rhubarb Liqueur

•½ oz. fresh lime

•2 fresh cucumber slices

•¾ oz. Empress Gin float

Directions

•Combine gin, rhubarb liqueur, lime and cucumber in shaker and shake

•Strain into a collins glass

•Add ice and a splash of soda water

• Top with Empress Gin

•Garnish with an edible orchid“

Cucumber, lime and rhubarb are great summer flavors that go really well together, and they are all very refreshing on an 80-degree day. Fulham Palace combines these ingredients in a purple-pink fade topped with a floral garnish, which makes it a really pretty patio drink.”

Pimm’s Particle

Ingredients

•1 ½ oz. Pimm’s No. 1

•1 oz. Rothman & Winter Pear Liqueur

•¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

•3 oz. ginger ale

Directions

•Combine Pimm’s, pear and lemon into shaker and shake

•Strain into a globe glass and add ice

•Top with ginger ale

•Garnish with a fresh strawberry slice, lemon wheel, lime wheel, cucumber wheel and mint sprig

“Pimm’s Particle is our variation on a classic Pimm’s Cup with lemon twisted over ginger ale and pear liqueur for a fresh, summery taste. It has this delicious herbal flavor you don’t get with other gin-based liqueurs, and it plays really well with ginger.”

SOCIAL

Social has long been one of Fort Collins’ best kept secrets—and now, the iconic speakeasy has emerged to include an above-ground bar and patio just in time for summer. Known for its elevated cocktails that are as bold as they are balanced, Social offers more than just margaritas and piña coladas when it comes to boozy patio drinks. General Manager and Bar Manager Nathan Robertson shares a few of his go-to creations for a sunny afternoon:

Daquiri

Ingredients

•2 oz. white rum

•1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

•¾ oz. simple syrup

Directions

•Shake with ice

•Double strain into a coupe

•Garnish with a twisted lime slice

“The Daiquiri’s apparent simplicity, composed of nothing but rum, lime juice and sugar, can nonetheless produce a complex array of variations. Our Daiquiri is more tart than sweet—it’s light and refreshing but still knocks your socks off.”

Summer Shandy

Ingredients

•½ oz. hibiscus liqueur

•1 oz. fresh lemon juice

•3 oz. Mexican Sprite

•Bavarian pilsner or lager

Directions

•Build in a pilsner glass

•Top off with Bavarian pilsner or lager

•Garnish with a twisted orange slice

“Our riff on a shandy and a radler, Social’s Summer Shandy combines equal parts refreshing blond lager, typically a pilsner or helles, and some sort of light-colored soda. The addition of lemon juice is what pushes our version into the radler category as well (a radler is usually a 50/50 mix of light beer and limeade or lemonade), and it has a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) for easy drinking.”

Caipirinha

Ingredients

•2 oz. Cachaça

•3 lime wedges, muddled

•1 oz. fresh lime juice

•1 oz. simple syrup

Directions

•Shake with ice

•Dirty dump into a double Old Fashioned glass

•Garnish with a lime wedge

“This drink of the Brazilian countryside is made from cachaça, a rum-like spirit distilled not from molasses, but from the virgin sugarcane itself, giving it a light, fresh, grassy, somewhat vegetal character. It’s a great alternative for adventurous margarita drinkers who want to try something different.”

What is your favorite NOCO summer sipper?

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