Celebrate the season with these essential Nashville summer cocktails! Whether you’re grilling out or sipping a refreshing drink on your porch in the warm evenings, these popular cocktails are sure to add a wonderful kick to your summer.
A Basil Watermelon Cooler
Watermelon is the fruit of summer, and you might have noticed that it’s a popular summer drink profile! And making one at home for yourself is miraculously simple.
In a shaker, muddle 3 large basil leaves, a slice of peeled ginger, 1 large chunk of watermelon and a half ounce of simple syrup. Add 2 ounces of vodka and a half ounce of lime juice, and fill your shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with a watermelon chunk and basil leaf. Alternatively, if you like more sour drinks, add a small squeeze from a lemon wedge and garnish with the lemon!
A West Side Tonic
Gin and whiskey are among Nashville’s most popular spirits, if you ask the fellows behind most bars: and the West Side Club is a twist on the traditional West Side, which uses club soda instead of tonic water.
Add 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a half ounce of simple syrup, 3 pinches of fresh mint into a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Open the shaker and add a splash of tonic water. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A Nashville Old Fashioned
In great part because the ingredients and instructions are so simple, the Old Fashioned is an immensely popular cocktail in Nashville these days! But that means making an exceptional Old Fashioned is also incredibly difficult, and requires maximizing all your ingredients. To make the best Old Fashioned in Nashville, I’ve got some great tips!
Whiskey – Use rye whiskey instead of bourbon for a real ‘Nashville’ kick instead of paying homage to our sister-state, Kentucky! Rye is also notably sharper and less sweet, and if you want a great Nashville Old Fashioned, consider reaching for Whistle Pig Rye – which is a little pricey, but worth the cost.
Sweetener – There are a lot of conflicting feelings on Old Fashioned sweeteners. Some muddle in a sugar cube, others use simple syrup… but for the best Nashville cocktail, use a darker sugar like turbinado or demerara. If you like your Old Fashioned on the sweet side, use agave syrup. These darker, more complex flavors blend beautifully with a rye, adding a rich layer of complexity that’ll make you think of worn-in cowboy boots and oaky heritage barns.
Bitters – You need bitters for a true Old Fashioned, and most people stop at a drop of Angostura. But we recommend a double-punch in the form of an additional drop of orange bitters. It’ll add a punchy kick to your Old Fashioned like the bright lights of downtown outlined against a night sky, bold and brassy and just a little different.
Ice – How you cut and add your ice makes a big difference to any slow-sipping drink. Use a large ice cube that’ll melt slower for the best bang for your buck.
Garnish – Avoid the fruit itself and just add a sliver of lemon and orange peel! The aromatics open up the bitters and bring it all together without adding too much sweet.
Great Nashville Cocktail Bars & Restaurants
- The Stillery – AMAZING masjon jar cocktails! – 113 2nd Ave N Nashville, TN 37201
- Bar Sovereign – Relatively new cocktail bar with very friendly bartenders willing to mix to your tastes! – 514 5th Ave S Nashville, TN 37203
- Holland House – Hallmark Nashville cocktail venue with a great happy hour! 935 W Eastland Ave Nashville, TN 37206
- Pinewood Social – Trendy bar good for a group with an EXHAUSTIVE list of cocktails and spirits! – 33 Peabody St Nashville, TN 37210