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How to Make Happy Hour Even Happier This Summer

How to Make Happy Hour Even Happier This Summer

How to Make Happy Hour Even Happier This Summer

Now that summer has arrived, it’s time to get serious about happy hour. Cocktails are synonymous with freedom, holidays, love and celebration (and sometimes headaches). Introduce your bubble to a few sophisticated upgrades and elevate your patio status from Jell-o shooters! It takes little investment beyond a few choice bottles, reusable straws, a shaker and blender. Premium snacks and a solid playlist help too!

There will always be cocktail classics to lean on, but why not expand your in-house drinks list? Here’s your happy hour homework assignment for the summer:

two basil bee sting cocktails Image : Jules Torti

 The Basil Bee Sting

There’s a buzz around this drink for good reason! It’s like drinking a glass of air conditioning! You can also pat yourself on the back for supporting the local bee population. Casablanca basil seed drinks are a fun juice alternative and come in the following flavours: lychee, mango, pineapple, pomegranate and rose. Try them all! (*But maybe not all at once.)

  • 5 oz basil seed drink
  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz local honey

Add basil seed drink, tequila, lemon juice and honey to a shaker. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain. 


As we continue to navigate the different phases of the pandemic and shifting social and business restrictions, why not set up a home bar? For makeshift cocktail stations and permanent closed-concept solutions, begin your bar blueprint research here

love at first sight cocktailImage credit: Signe Langford, Signe’s Kitchen

Love at First Sight 

Whether you are shaken or stirred, this is one drink you won’t soon forget. Created by cookbook author and Harrowsmith food editor, Signe Langford, Love at First Sight is a sweet treat and likely, the start of a long love affair!

  • 2 oz coconut rum
  • 2 oz amber rum
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 cup dark chocolate milk (soy, almond, or dairy)
  • 4 cubes of ice
  • Tiny pinch of Mediterranean sea salt to garnish (optional)
  • Chocolate-covered mint candy, notched for the glass

Blend both rums, milk, ice and whiz until smooth and frothy.

Pour into two tall glasses and add a tiny pinch of sea salt to the top, if desired.

suit and tie cocktailImage via Corby Spirit and Wine

Suit & Tie

Summer does have a few rules that should be obeyed. No shirt, no shoes, no service doesn’t apply here though–a Suit & Tie is required! Spiced rum is a versatile mix often ignored until the winter season. However, it can kick up blender drinks and legends like the Dark and Stormy (spiced rum and ginger beer) and Cuba Libre (rum and cola). But, let’s dress things up a little with this riff from Corby Spirit and Wine.

  • ½ oz vermouth
  • 1/8 oz Italian bitter liqueur
  • 1 ½ oz spiced rum
  • Ice cubes

Add a few ice cubes to an old-fashioned glass. Combine spiced rum with vermouth and Italian bitter liqueur. Stir and garnish with orange zest or blood orange slice and a sour cherry.

grapefruit margarita cocktailImage via The Diplomat Boutique Hotel

Grapefruit Margarita

Sarah DeRuiter and Neil Haapamaki, owners and founders of The Diplomat Boutique Hotel in Mérida, Mexico, know how to blend a dose of OMG and SPF without blinking. The Toronto ex-pats are well-versed in all things tequila and have curated a slick custom cocktail list infused with local fruits, spices and herbs from their garden. Take an instant DIY vacation to Mexico and ease into the tropical chill of The Diplomat’s signature Grapefruit Margarita.

  • 1 part fresh-squeezed grapefruit
  • 1 part Triple Sec (not Cointreau)
  • 2 parts mezcal or tequila
  • Splash of simple syrup
  • Ice cubes

Rim a highball glass with a blend of chili, salt, and lime (or Tajin). Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Garnish glass with a grapefruit and lime slice, add ice to the glass, pour and serve.


grown up milkshake cocktailImage via Flickr,  @new1mproved

Grown-up milkshake

Take to the shade with a book, bamboo straw and a frosty shake! Spike your milkshake with your favourite spirit by following this simple (but not strict) base recipe that serves two.

  • 1 pint of ice cream
  • 8 oz milk  (cashew, almond, coconut, soy, chocolate, dairy)
  • 5 oz of booze (bourbon, vodka or dark rum–any spirit will do)

Blend ingredients on high for a couple of minutes. Add more ice cream for a thicker shake or thin with milk (or booze). 

Here are a few tried and true combinations to experiment with:

The James Joyce: Replace milk in this recipe with Guinness and blend vanilla ice cream with Baileys Salted Caramel. Any coffee-flavoured ice cream will marry well. Drizzle with chocolate syrup or garnish with crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans for a chocolate lover’s total meltdown.

Summer Crush: Replace milk with Orange Crush soda and add vodka. Try Chapman’s Orange Pineapple or Tiger Tail ice cream for an all-Canadian flavour twist.

Back to Your Roots: Replace milk with root beer and add vodka for a root beer float with personality!

Key Lime Pie in a Glass: Add lime vodka and rim glass with crushed graham crackers. What’s better than a pie that you can drink?

For an online cocktail “class” that you won’t want to skip,  check out the pandemic-inspired series Amy Schumer Learns to Cook on the Food Network. Summer school has never been so fun! Best of luck to all of you on your bar exam! 


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