Try These Sizzling Summer Cocktails

lady with cocktail

Mixing it up at some of your favorite Virginia Beach restaurants with crafty, colorful cocktails you’ll want to sip on all summer long

By Leona Baker | Photos By Jacqui Renager, Performance Foodservice Virginia

See Also: Crushing the Orange Crush Game How the Waterman’s Orange Crush inspired the region’s juicy love affair with VB’s signature citrusy cocktail

Check out these summery cocktails featured in Coastal Virginia Magazine’s July-August 2024 issue:

The Drink: Mimosa Flight
The Spot: The Bee & The Biscuit

The Inspiration Along with Pungo farm-fresh breakfast, brunch and lunch, The Bee & The Biscuit is known for its Instagram-worthy mimosa fights, coffees and cocktails. This summery flight, created by Amber Berry, features Lavender Lemonade, Dragonfruit Lychee and Watermelon Mint.

The Ingredients OJ and champagne? Sure. But let’s get creative, why don’t we? Start with the bubbly and think “fresh is best” on all the rest. Add lavender syrup and lemonade. Or lychee and dragon fruit. Or watermelon, agave and mint. Or pineapple and coconut juice. Your morning just got magical.

The Experience The Lavender Lemonade has that citrus pop and floral calming sensation, the Dragon Fruit Lychee that clean tropical lychee taste and dragon fruit visual; the Watermelon Mint that, well, that watermelon minty-ness; and the Piña Colada that eternal vacation vibe.

SIP IT at this Pungo hot spot, owned by Karen and Joe Johnson, and get there bright and early to find your seat, get your drink on, and put your name on a Cowboy Benedict.

The Drink: Bramble Smash
The Spot: Cobalt Grille

The Inspiration Bartender Kendall Fossen crafts imaginative cocktails to complement Chef/Owner Alvin Williams’ eclectic farm-to-table menu at Cobalt Grille. This one is based on a twist on an orgeat—with peach in place of traditional rose or orange water—and “smells like summer in a glass.”

The Ingredients Almond-based orgeat syrup, a “summer version of a shrub,” is often associated with tiki drinks like Mai Tais but has become popular in craft cocktails of all kinds. This a peachy version is added to Bullet Bourbon (“it’s best for mixing”) with blackberry, basil, lemon and a spritz of soda.

The Experience Orgeat’s slightly creamy nuttiness cozies up to the warmth of the bourbon while the peach, blackberry and basil create a symphony of summery, herbaceous goodness. Lemon and soda add that hint of brightness on top to bring it all together and make it sing.

SIP IT at Cobalt Grille in Hilltop, a locals’ favorite for fine and fun dining featuring seasonal ingredients and creative small plates, entrees and burgers:

The Drink: Funkdafied
The Spot: Civil Libation

The Insipiration Civil Libation’s April Cacation is a sorceress behind the bar. The only thing as charming as her cocktails are the hand-painted illustrations she creates of them and the names she concocts. This one is a shout-out to her love of mezcal, skinny margs and ’90s hip-hop artist Da Brat.

The Ingredients It starts with 21 Seeds, a female-founded tequila company, and their cucumber- and jalapeño-infused blanco. There’s a touch of Vida Single Village mezcal for smokiness, fresh lime and agave. Gorgeous, thinly sliced cukes draped inside the glass and a tajin rim make it sexy all day.

The Experience This drink will, as the song says, put a dip in your hip. It’s cool and refreshing with a hint of smoke, a splash of citrus, a dash of spice and that elusive, summery somethin’-somethin’ you want to grab onto and not let go until people start obsessing over pumpkin spice lattes.

SIP IT at Civil Libation’s location at Strawbridge Marketplace where craft cocktails complement creative dishes with robust flavors:

The Drink: Lychee Margarita
The Spot: Coastal Grill

The Inspiration Capitalizing on the snowy lusciousness and light, tropical taste of lychees (they’re spikey and red on the outside and like a peeled white grape inside), bartenders Ryan Becka and Windsor Swink created a runway-ready knockout of a floral twist on a margarita.

The Ingredients This margarita is anything but ordinary, featuring lychee juice (not syrup), St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, fresh squeezed lime juice (“has to be fresh!”), agave, a splash of orange liquor and a mixture of kosher salt, granulated sugar and crushed edible flowers on the glass.

The Experience While classic margaritas can be overly lime-y, this is perfectly smooth and beautifully balanced, light and floral. The citrus is there, but softer like a tropical breeze.  The lychee makes a perfect conduit for all the other flavors, and the edible flowers on the glass are a sensual feast.

SIP IT at Coastal Grill, one of the region’s most beloved destinations for elegantly prepared seafood, small bites, entrees and fresh cocktails:

The Drink: Blueberry Gin & Tonic
The Spot: Oscar’s Oceanside

The Inspiration Known for high-end food and service, the folks at Oscar’s Oceanside recently set about lightening things up including their cocktail menu, focusing on classic flavors and combos with fresh ingredients. Thus, pairing one of summer’s most popular fruits with a G&T.

The Ingredients Chef Rick Overby is the guy behind your surf and turf, but he’s also conjuring up fresh syrups for your cocktail. “We want the bartenders to have fun,” says Overby, as they are marrying that scratch-made blueberry syrup with house gin, lime juice, tonic and mint.

The Experience You’ll have nothing to feel blue about with this win-win fruity twist on a quintessential highball. Ditto for Oscar’s Watermelon Agua Fresca, Grapefruit Paloma or a menu of crushes, orange and then some, made with VB’s own Waterman Spirits vodka. And the livin’s easy.

SIP IT on the patio with a view of the Atlantic Ocean at this VB Boardwalk destination with a touch of Miami glam:

The Drink: Rum Runner
The Spot: Surf Rider

The Inspiration Lifelong friend and former Surf Rider manager Ronnie Tewey brought the idea for this Key West- inspired frozen concoction to owners Dianna and Chris Bennett more than 20 years ago. Now they sell hundreds of this signature drink in a single day at the Marina Shores location alone.

The Ingredients Grenadine gives it its trademark bubblegum pink color. Also in the blender: light rum, black rum, banana liquor, black raspberry liquor, Crème de Noyaux, piña colada mix, ice and, of course Sailor Jerry spiced rum for the topper, poured into the straw at the last second so it floats.

The Experience Though there’s a long list of rums and sweet liqueurs in this adults-only confection, marrying them in just the right ratio with just the right amount ice results in a surprisingly light, creamy consistency (“like a milkshake, not a Slurpee!”). Barbie would approve, and we do too.

SIP IT from your boat or by the dock at the Surf Rider at Marina Shores or one of six other popular locations around the region:

The Drink: Pungo Fizz
The Spot: Waterman Spirits

The Inspiration Waterman Spirits Owner Mariah Standing’s Pungo roots are fruit-forward in this seasonal sipper featuring their Strawberry Organic Vodka. After years crushing it along with her husband at Waterman’s restaurant, Mariah established her own organic, coral-filtered vodka line in 2022.

The Ingredients This limited release vodka is silky smooth, like all Waterman Spirits products, and infused with fresh strawberry. Here, it’s mixed with 1883 strawberry syrup, lime juice and egg white, shaken, strained into a glass with ice and served with a splash of soda and a ripe strawberry.

The Experience This drink is the epitome of using great quality ingredients and letting them shine in all their fresh and fruity glory.  Shaken egg white adds that airy body and slightly creamy texture to the strawberry vodka and syrup’s perfectly balanced flavor profile of sweet and tart.

SIP IT or make your own at a tasting or cocktail class at Waterman Spirits Tasting Room, located just across the street from Chix at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront:

The Drink: Forbidden Paradise
The Spot: Zzas

The Inspiration Zaas on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk has quickly developed a following for its sour dough, brick-oven pizzas and tiki drinks with a twist. To their popular menu of crushes and painkiller cocktails in tiki glassware, they have added some crafty creations like this peachy colored marg.

The Ingredients Along with fresh-squeezed lime juice and Jose Cuervo Tequila, this “don’t hate me because I am beautiful” margarita features fresh OJ, house-sweetened coconut cream and Aperol. The Aperol’s intense red color, when blended with the orange, gives it a gorgeous hue. A tajin rim adds pop.

The Experience If you love an Aperol Spritz and a fresh-made marg, you’re going to want to be a guest at this island-inspired wedding of a cocktail, which marries the two. It can also be finished with a splash of coconut rum to add that extra beachy flavor experience and a little more punch.

SIP IT one block north of the Neptune Statue, inside the Hampton Inn Virginia Beach, and be sure to order a pizza or two to share. You’ll need those carbs after a couple of these.

The Drink: Limoncello Spritz
The Spot: Zia Marie Vino e Cucina

The Inspiration Nothing like a trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast to get the creative juices flowing. Lemon juices, specifically, for Zia Marie’s owner Bill Minder, who brought back techniques for making his own limoncello, the classic Italian cordial. Mix it with bubbly and salute!

The Ingredients Minder’s house-made limoncello starts with organic lemon rinds soaked for three weeks in grain alcohol and another three once sugar is added. The limoncello is mixed with prosecco and garnished with lemon wheels and seasonal herbs like mint or rosemary.

The Experience The limoncello’s signature sweet, citrusy bite is used as a mid-meal palate cleanser in Italy. When mixed with sparkling wine, it comes alive on a whole new level. The bright notes of mint and lemon hit your nose in harmony in this perfect summer sipper.

SIP IT at this locals’ favorite for Italian, once tucked away in Chic’s Beach, now located at Shore Drive and Old Great Neck Road:

Leona Baker

Leona Baker is the Editor-in-Chief of Coastal Virginia Magazine, a writer, creative, communications professional, food freak, news junkie, nature and travel lover and mom. She holds a degree in English from James Madison University and a degree in Dance & Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. She previously served as Senior Copywriter for Spark 451, Director of Marketing & Communications at Virginia Wesleyan University, and Senior Editor of Port Folio Weekly.

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