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Low Alcohol Cocktails Are Trending, Here Are 3 Recipes for Your Next Party

Sweet sweet summertime: the sun is out, the grill is fired up, the drinks are flowing. Whether you're hosting a BBQ with friends, an al fresco dinner party or weekend aperitivo, you need cocktails that are refreshing, thoughtful and, most importantly, lower in alcohol so you can knock a few back without getting knocked out. We recently called on Drew Lazor, author of Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasionto get his favorite low ABV recipes to enjoy with friends on those cherished long summer days. 

Reprinted with permission from Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion by Drew Lazor and the Editors of PUNCH, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Vatican City

Mikki Kristola, The Varnish, Los Angeles, California
A little more fun than midnight mass, Mikki Kristola’s bright and invigorating spritz variation is built around the particular charms of Suze, a bitter, gentian-based Swiss liqueur that enjoys a bit of a cult following among bartenders. The liqueur’s earthy and grassy tones help this drink stand out from Camparicentric cousins like the Americano cocktail or the Rome with a View, and in ways that extend beyond flavor: Suze’s yellow hue pops in the glass, offering a visual cue for refreshment. “The color is wild,” says Kristola. “It really just makes my mouth water.”

Glass: Collins | Garnish: Grapefruit Twist | Ingredients: 1 ounce Suze, 1 ounce blanc vermouth (preferably Dolin blanc), 1 ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce simple syrup, Soda water

Combine the Suze, vermouth, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add a small piece of ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a collins glass over a spear of ice. Top with soda water, then garnish with the grapefruit twist.

Watermelon Cooler

Dale DeGroff, New York, New York
Bartending legend Dale DeGroff keeps it simple with his watermelon cooler, which is a supereasy combination of sauvignon blanc, St-Germain, watermelon juice, and a small dose of agave syrup. With an ABV that’s below that of the average glass of wine, it’s a prime candidate for daytime drinking.

Glass: Collins | Garnish: Cucumber ribbon, lime wheel | Ingredients: 3 ounces sauvignon blanc, 2 ounces fresh watermelon juice, ½ ounce elderflower liqueur (preferably St-Germain), 1 teaspoon agave syrup (recipe follows).

TO MAKE THE AGAVE SYRUP: Put ½ cup agave nectar and ¼ cup hot water in a heatproof container and stir to combine. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Pour all the ingredients into a collins glass filled with ice, then garnish with the cucumber ribbon and lime wheel.


Giuseppe Gallo, Italspirits, London, England
Light and fragrant, this easy-sipping twist on the caipirinha relies on three simple ingredients— lime, fresh basil, and bianco vermouth—and was made for summer afternoons. It also sticks to a useful principle of session cocktail construction when it comes to aromatized wines, vermouth, and amari: don’t be afraid to keep it simple. They are bottled cocktails in and of themselves, after all.

Glass: Rocks | Garnish: Lime wedge, small basil sprig | Ingredients: 3 basil leaves, 2 lime wedges, 2 ounces blanc vermouth (preferably Martini bianco)

Combine the basil leaves and lime wedges in a rocks glass and use a muddler to lightly crush them together. Add the vermouth, top up with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix. Garnish with the lime wedge and basil sprig.

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