Share story

The forecast calls for something light, refreshing, tropical maybe. Boozy, definitely.

Summer came early this year. I know, not because I follow the weather report, but because I scan cocktail menus.

This mild spring means the summer drinks are rolling out earlier. The good news is that bartenders have gotten over being mixologists and back to being bartenders again. I see more low alcohol, three-ingredient offers and fewer over-the top, overworked concoctions.

Sherry cobblers, spiked slushies and tap cocktails are in. Gin-and-tonics are big, not the cheap, well drink variety, but the Spain-inspired variation, with mashed-up berries and herbs, mixed with house-made tonic.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Those awful ’70s drinks like the Harvey Wallbanger are seeing a revitalization, as well, though retooled to taste less sweet, more balanced.

Here are five summery-drinks that stood out for me in recent weeks:

The Yellowbelly Cooler at Canon: The great cocktail bar Mayahuel in New York’s East Village showed the mainstream that smoky mescal when mixed with sweet watermelon can add a pleasant, savory note. Here’s a sophisticated take, with pisco, watermelon, lime, sea salt and Italian herbal liqueur topped off with a half-ounce of mescal. The smokiness lifts this drink to another level. 928 12th Ave., Seattle (

Daiquiri No. CO2 at Rumba: A lot of bars on the Hill now serve cocktails on tap, like beer, which makes sense for high-volume spots. The best tap cocktail is the carbonated take on the classic Daiquiri, with rum, lime and simple syrup. Light, refreshing and bubbly. I’ll take this over a house sparkling wine any day. 1112 Pike St., Seattle (206-583-7177 or

The Woodford Reserve Strawberry Mint Julep at Aragona: I love how it’s a boozy punch to the palate at first sip then mellows out as the bourbon and fruit soak into the crushed ice. A grown-up snow cone. 96 Union St., Seattle (206-682-3590 or

Dark and Fernet-y at Rob Roy: A riff on the Dark and Stormy, with the popular amaro Fernet subbing in for rum. The lime and ginger beer round out the bitter notes nicely. A good Fernet-for-beginners drink. 2332 2nd Ave., Seattle (206-956-8423 or

The Jungle Bird: You can order this tropical drink at any craft cocktail bar these days. It’s the hottest Tiki drink now, mixed with rum, lime, pineapple juice and a big dose of bitter Campari to mask the sweetness. But this beach sipper will still go down easy. Too easy if you’re not careful.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.