The Best Summer Drinks Brands (And The Cocktail To Make With Them)

Image Credit: Pimm’s

Summer is here. The days are warm and the evenings long. While autumn and winter make us want to pour a neat spirit – whisky, Cognac, rum etc. – or something warming like a negroni cocktail, the hotter months are all about those long, cool drinks that are at once refreshing and thirst quenching. But there is more on offer than the simple G&T.

Many of the brands we instantly reach for are household names with rich histories. Here, we look at six of the most well-known, dig into their back stories and suggest the best way to sample them this summer.


The last decade has seen this famous old Italian brand brought back from near death. With sales struggling the owners and marketeers got together to hatch a plan. And that plan was to make consumers aware of the spritz cocktail and put Aperol as the key bitter ingredient. The rest is history, with Aperol now synonymous with the drink as the brand has boomed.

Aperol was created in 1919 by Luigi and Silvio Barbieri in Padua and takes its name from ‘apero‘, the Italian slang word for ‘aperitif’.

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How to drink it: Aperol Spritz

To make a classic Aperol Spritz is easy: pour one-part Aperol and one-part Prosecco over some ice cubes in a wine glass; top up with one part mineral or soda water; garnish with a slice of orange.

Sit back, sip and relax.


Rum instantly conjures up memories of refreshing long drinks and cocktails while sitting on a beach or by the pool. Bacardi is the world’s biggest selling white rum – the spirit used as the base for summery classics such as the daiquiri, mojito and piña colada.

Originally founded in Cuba during the 1860s, the Bacardi family were kicked out of the country a century later by Fidel Castro for supporting the revolution. Now based in Bermuda, its rums are produced in either Mexico or Puerto Rico.

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How To Drink It: Mojito

The Mojito is arguably the perfect summer cocktail – sweet, citrusy and refreshingly minty.

To make your own, crush mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a tall highball glass, then add lime juice and a good slug of white rum. Mix and add ice, then garnish with a further sprig of mint.


Campari was created by Gaspare Campari in the Italian town of Novara in 1860. The classic Italian bitter aperitif is a must have in any self-respecting drinks cabinet, with its versatility allowing it to be used in a multitude of ways and in different styles of drink.

The deep red liqueur is an infusion of herbs, fruit and spices, including chinotto (a bitter orange-like fruit from the myrtle tree) and cascarilla (a plant native to the Caribbean).

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How To Drink It: Campari & Soda

While Campari is an essential part of heavier cocktails such as a negroni, it really comes to life in longer summer drinks. It can be used to make a more bitter version of a spritz – you simply replace Aperol with Campari – but the best and easily most refreshing option is a Campari and Soda. This tangy and bitter drink had its heyday in the 1970s and 80s but should not be underrated.

Pour some Campari into a tall highball glass, add ice and top up with about twice as much soda water. Stir with a long spoon and garnish with a slice of orange or zest.


Just mention the name Kahlúa and you are transported to a distant tropical island somewhere. The famous coffee liqueur is produced in Mexico and translates as ‘house of the Alcolhua people’ from a local indigenous tribal language.

It was first created by Pedro Domecq in 1936 and is made from a combination of rum, sugar and arabica coffee beans. The brand now works with coffee plantation owners to create sustainability and eco-friendly practices for farming.

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How To Drink It: Espresso Martini

Kahlúa is the most popular coffee-based liqueur, traditionally used by bartenders in cocktails such as the Black Russian. However, the best choice for those warm lazy days must be the Espresso Martini.

The recipe is easy: mix the same volume of Kahlúa, vodka and fresh espresso coffee in a cocktail shaker. Shake with some ice for about 20 seconds and strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a coffee bean or two.


This rum liqueur is celebrating its 40th birthday in 2022 and was an instant hit after its introduction in 1982. Malibu evokes exotic thoughts and was initially formulated on the small Caribbean island of Curaçao. When the sales began to explode the production was moved to larger facilities on Barbados.

A pioneering brand that has paved the way for many other rum-based flavoured liqueurs to follow in the four decades since.

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How To Drink It: Piña Colada

Malibu is perfect for making a Piña Colada, the famous cocktail that originated on another Caribbean island: Puerto Rico. White rum is normally used but Malibu gives an added coconut kick.

Use one-part Malibu, one-part coconut cream or milk and three-parts pineapple juice. Blend with ice and serve in a tall glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice or maraschino cherry, or both.


One only has to mention Pimm’s and most will think of a warm summer’s day. Created by James Pimm in 1823, where he offered it as a tonic in his City of London oyster bar, Pimm’s has become a staple at quintessentially British events such as the Wimbledon tennis championships and Chelsea Flower Show.

The fruity gin-based drink includes a secret marriage of herbs, spices and liqueurs known only to a handful of people. Pimm originally served his tonic in a small vessel called a No.1 Cup, which first appeared on the label in the 1840s and remains there to this day.

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How To Drink It: By The Jug

Nothing beats a jug of Pimm’s, and it is extremely simple to make: a good measure of Pimm’s No.1 Cup is poured over plenty of ice, then topped up with three times the amount of lemonade. Throw in some strawberries, cucumber, mint and orange and you’re done.

A modern-day classic.

Matt Chambers

Mr. Matt Chambers has been writing about whisky since 2008, becoming a brand consultant, educator, judge for IWSC and the Spirits Masters awards. His interests lie with the heritage behind the brands and distilleries. He also enjoys the obscure facts, figures and stories that bring the world of whisky to life. In short, what Matt doesn’t know about whisky isn’t worth knowing. You can find his blog named Whisky For Everyone here.