Summer is almost here (all together now…IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!) which means one very important thing: it’s time to up your cocktail game. OK fine, we’re pretty sure summer means a lot more than that, but let’s get our bar-menu in order first. After all, you’ll probably be entertaining a lot this summer, and as the weather heats up, so should your drinks. That’s right…cocktails (and mocktails for that matter) are getting a savory and spicy spin, and we’re pretty pumped about it. And yes, there is more to the savory cocktail category than the age-old favorite, the Bloody Mary.

After all, anyone can whip up a sweet, fruity concoction to ring in the summertime. (Eh hem, Piña Colada, we’re looking at you.)  It’s almost expected, and quite frankly it’s a little bit clichéd. But toss in an interesting cocktail that packs the perfect spicy punch and you’ll instantly take your next gathering to a whole other level of yum. Plus, let’s talk about the hidden calories you’re inhaling when you sip sweet drinks. All those fruit juices, mixers and tonics add up. And since you’re getting tipsy you’re not really thinking about the weight-loss and health repercussions. According to Dana James, M.S., certified dietician nutritionist and founder of Food Coach NYC, “people don’t evaluate what they drink in the same way, so they don’t realize how much they’re consuming.”

Beyond the caloric side effects of sweet drinks, Chris Moore, head bartender of The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar in London, explains that especially in the summer (when it’s hot outside) you should “try to limit the amount of sugar you use in your drinks. Too much sugar will make it sticky and cloying; and there’s nothing worse in warm weather than a thick, heavy drink.”

So if you can’t resort to your standard rum punch, what do you make instead? Have no fear; you can cheers to the season without ditching your diet and while impressing your foodie friends. The trick is to think about your liquor of choice and then find a new way to spice it up. Pun intended. Here are our favorite savory and spicy summer cocktails:

If you like tequila: try a Spiced Pineapple Cocktail
This take on a pineapple margarita eliminates all sugar and instead uses agave nectar or honey for a small dose of sweetness. But the tart taste of pineapple mixed with the chili powder and salt on the rim of the glass makes this drink perfectly refreshing, spicy and frothy.

Read Related: Toast to Summer with Tequila Cocktails


…Or a Yellow Light Cocktail
Yellow peppers in a cocktail? Yup, that’s right. Yellow peppers in a cocktail. This drink is the perfect blend of savory, a little sweet, a little tart, and a little spicy. There’s a reason mixologist and bartender Kevin Denton is a big deal at Alder, one of NYC’s hottest bars.

If you like vodka: try a Spicy Bloody Mary with Sriracha Salt
Yes, we know that spicy cocktail drinks went way beyond the standard Bloody Mary, but this is no standard Bloody Mary. This mixture includes super spicy pepper infused vodka (made from red, green and jalapeño chilies) and Sriracha salt. Make it for your next boozey brunch gathering or give this “How to Make A Spicy Bloody Mary” kit as a gift to your friend who loves all things spicy and alcoholic.


If you like gin: try a Spicy Gin Cucumber Lemonade
Cucumbers go in a salad but they also go perfectly in a cocktail mixed with lemonade and cayenne pepper, resulting in a fresh drink that is simple, balanced and not too sweet. Hands down, one of our favorite cocktail recipes.


If you like brown liquor (whiskey, rye, scotch): try a Spicy Bourbon Drink
This cocktail provides a spiced drink that is balanced, mildly sweet but mostly tart with a bit of heat thanks to the Thai chile honey. The Danish liquor is what adds the small dose of cherry flavor without any sugar, so it’s a little bit sweet, but the Meyer lemon and chile can be the stars of the show.


If you like beer: try a Michelada Cocktail
The basis of this drink is spicy and salty, and it takes a simple beer from boring to BOOM with the addition of cayenne pepper, celery salt, lime juice, Tabasco sauce, pepper and Worcestershire sauce (yes, that stuff you use in steak seasoning). This is one of the cocktail recipes you’ll crave.