The warmer months bring a number of changes: new wardrobes free of layers, new requirements (don't forget to apply that sunscreen!), new outdoor hangouts—and a seasonally appropriate drink menu. Let's face it: once summer is in full bloom, you can't live on whiskey alone. Well, we suppose you could, but that would be a shame; the City's bars and restaurants offer so many other lovely drinks that fit the weather. Need help planning your thirst-quenching activities? The nycgo.com Investigative Team has assembled a comprehensive guide to our favorite summery drinks—a tough job, but someone has to do it. Consider a spicy peach mezcal quaff in Greenpoint, a seductive spin on the Negroni on the Lower East Side or perhaps a crisp refreshing pilsner in Astoria. Read our slideshow for the full list, and sample them all on your own (though probably not in the same evening). —nycgo staff
Drink: Ginger Passion
Description: Among the highlights of the bar menu at the Library Hotel's 14th-floor lounge is the light, summery Ginger Passion, one of four sparkling-wine cocktails on offer. The ginger flavor is pronounced but—thanks to the addition of passion fruit puree and the bubbly—not overpowering. As a bonus, Bookmarks has a rooftop terrace that's an idyllic warm-weather setting in which to enjoy the delicious concoction.
Order one when…you're looking for a fizzy pre- or post-dinner cocktail. —Heather Liang
Drink: Acid Drop
Location: Réunion Surf Bar
Description: If you’re thirsty for some beach-themed fun in the middle of busy Hell’s Kitchen, this basement-level bar should do the trick. Réunion mixes a surfer vibe with cocktail culture, and during happy hour its strong drinks come at a hard-to-beat price ($6). Sneak out of work early for such classic tropical refreshments as the Coco Loco (a piña colada by another name) or Dark Blizzard (a frozen dark 'n' stormy), or something more original, like the Acid Drop. This standout is made with grapefruit vodka and fresh grapefruit juice, vanilla sugar coating the rim of the glass. Sip one while gazing at the vintage surfboards and back-room fish tank—and let your mind take a trip to Maui.
Order one when…you've run out of vacation days. —Christina Parella
Location: The Riviera Café
Price: $17 (pitcher)
Description: This café is a West Village classic, in business since the summer of '69. It offers affordable pitchers of sangria that are great for sharing—plus a sunny outdoor patio, situated at the lively intersection of West 4th Street and Seventh Avenue, that's well suited for Village scenester-watching.
Order one when…you're with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon. —Brian Sloan
Drink: Julia's Blush
Location: Cherche Midi
Description: Restaurateur Keith McNally's latest brasserie features a bevy of lovely details: soft tungsten light, a cool zinc bar and a staff composed of French expats (or actors who are really good with Gallic accents). But our favorite is this cocktail, a bright and citrusy mixture of Campari, Hendrick's gin, lemon juice and agave—a touch sweet but indubitably refined, shaken and served up or on the rocks. The drink is a kissing cousin to the heavier Italian Negroni—a great version can be had at Gemma, just up the street—and slightly less lethal. Still, order a couple on an empty stomach and you're likely to be blushing right alongside Julia. Whoever she is, we're sure she's the life of the party.
Order one when…you want to get in touch with your inner Côte d'Azur. —Jonathan Durbin
Drink: Hotel Danger
Description: Tucked up on Greenpoint's Franklin Street, a safe distance from the hordes on Williamsburg's Bedford Avenue, is chic cocktail bar Ramona. Its barkeeps whip up drinks with house-infused alcohols, house-made syrups and fancy garnishes (this is Brooklyn, after all), like the Hotel Danger. This polished, Mexican-influenced cocktail made with peach mezcal, chipotle agave, Aperol, lemon and a grapefruit twist may be on the sweet side, but the pepper gives it a spicy kick.
Order one when…you're over infusing booze at home. —Christina Parrella
Drink: Cold in the Shadows
Description: You can find classic cocktails at plenty of places in Manhattan, but not many from a mixologist who road-tripped through America and plumbed the nation's history for drink ideas. Seamstress bartender Pamela Wiznitzer (formally of the Dead Rabbit) has helped craft an imaginative drink menu of which our founding fathers, many of whom were avid drinkers themselves, might be proud. We recommend the refreshing beer cocktail Cold in the Shadows, made with Anderson Valley IPA, Campari, honey and lime.
Order one when...you want a potent accompaniment for oysters and are looking to spark up a little romance. —Christina Parrella
Drink: Monongahela Mule
Location: Quarter Bar
Description: Just as Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle is formed by the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, so is this summer cocktail the convergence of a trio of liquid elements—rye whiskey, lime juice and ginger beer—combining to form a golden triumvirate of deliciousness that's a perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy. Enjoy your tall glass in the cozy, dark confines of the bar, or step down into Quarter's tiny backyard for an equally intimate and secluded experience outdoors.
Order one when…you want an expertly crafted cocktail served with care, not pretention; you've got a hankering for brown booze in the off-season; or you're looking to wax nostalgic about your Rust Belt origins. —Joyce Rutter Kaye
Drink: Ice-cold beer
Location: Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Price: $16 (pitcher)
Description: Dating back to 1910, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is the granddaddy of NYC beer gardens. Until just a short while ago it was the last of a dying breed. But even though numerous biergarten have sprung up throughout the City in recent years, Bohemian remains one of the best (and biggest). To step through its massive gates and sit at a sun-dappled picnic table under impossibly tall trees is to seemingly leave NYC behind. Pour out a round from a cold pitcher of Pilsner Urquell or another Czech draft (for as much as you'd spend on one of the other drinks on this list), and you're sure to make new friends.
Order one when…you want to spend the afternoon in Bohemia. —Adam Kuban
Drink: Tick Tick Boom
Location: Flatiron Lounge
Description: An art deco interior and an old-timey jazz soundtrack set the atmosphere at this watering hole, whose menu is loaded with plenty of adventurous choices. Among our favorites is the Tick Tick Boom. Concocted with silver tequila, lime, honey, strawberry and jalapeño, the spicy-sweet elixir get its name because it packs a delayed punch that keeps things exciting, but doesn't overwhelm. After the first sip, your taste buds may be thoroughly confused—but they'll definitely be delighted.
Order one when…you're in no mood for a margarita but still need a vehicle for tequila. —Alyson Penn
Drink: The Cadillac
Description: If the stroller-filled sidewalks and baby-clothing boutiques of Park Slope don't make you think of drinks, Fonda could change your mind. The inviting Mexican eatery's Cadillac is no standard house margarita. Made with oak-barrel-aged Cazadores Reposado tequila, Grand Marnier and fresh-squeezed lime juice, the drink goes down smooth but still provides a welcome kick. Another tasty tequila-based drink, the summer-only La Sandia, is made with fresh watermelon, orange liqueur and lime juice. Both work well with a serving of fresh guacamole.
Order one when…there’s no need to rush home because the babysitter can stay late. —Christina Parrella
Drink: Special Green Juice
Location: Juicy Lucy
Description: You can't make it through the whole summer on alcohol alone, lest you end up dehydrated and unable to operate heavy machinery. For something more wholesome, consider this brew at modest stand Juicy Lucy. At $5.50 for 16 ounces, it's priced to move (by NYC fresh-juice standards, at least). It has apple and pineapple for sweetness, greens for vitamins and lemon and ginger to clear those sinuses. And Juicy Lucy's juice technicians squeeze it all in front of you! Your friends may mock your straight-edge choice, but they just wish their beers were packed with fiber and antioxidants.
Order one when…you're celebrating a successful yoga class, or you're the designated driver. —Jonathan Zeller