11 cool summer cocktails to beat the heat

Photo courtesy of Midtown Cantina Alley
The La Sandia, a watermelon-infused margarita in a hollowed-out watermelon, is one of Midtown Cantina Alley's most popular drinks.

We're halfway through summer, and it's still hot out there. Sure, you can run through a sprinkler or jump in a pool to cool down, but we'd rather chill with a refreshing boozy beverage in hand. From a rum cocktail topped with Dole Whip to a flight of frozen cocktails, we found 11 quaffable quenchers to help you beat the heat.

Strawberry Sgroppino at Allora

Is it a cocktail or drinkable dessert? You decide after you taste Allora's summery sgroppino—concocted by co-owner Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou, one of only two certified advanced sommeliers in the region. A sizable scoop of house-made strawberry sorbet is topped with Italian Prosecco, which can be poured table side upon request (depending on the season, the strawberry sorbet can be swapped for other fruit flavors like peach or huckleberry). $10. 5215 Folsom Blvd. 916-538-6434. allorasacramento.com

Photo by Vu Chau

The Metric System at Empress Tavern

The downtown underground haunt has been serving up cinema-themed beverages since October 2017 as a nod to its above-ground neighbor, the Crest Theatre. Last month, for example, it offered Jaws-themed cocktails in glassware shaped like great white sharks. For August, bar manager Jose Carrasco came up with nine different Pulp Fiction-inspired libations, including the Metric System (the title refers to the conversation John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson have about Quarter Pounders with cheese). The blended cocktail is made with tequila, prickly watermelon juice, agave and lime, served over ice in a scientific glass beaker and garnished with a sprinkle of Empress Dirty Salt from Allspicery. $12. 1013 K St. 916-662-7694. empresstavern.com

Photo courtesy of Empress Tavern

Road to Puna at Hawks Restaurant

Inspired by his Hawaiian vacation a few years back, Tony Molina, a bartender at Hawks Restaurant in Granite Bay, crafted this rendition of a classic tiki tipple with a distinctly Polynesian bent. A blend of Falernum white rum, Blackwell Jamaican rum, Combier orange liqueur, fresh orange and lime juices and house-made pecan syrup is topped with dry red wine, served over ice and then garnished with grapefruit peels and baby orchid flowers. $12. 5530 Douglas Blvd. Granite Bay. 916-791-6200. hawksrestaurant.com

Photo courtesy of Hawks Restaurant

Maiden Voyage at Jungle Bird

At this midtown tiki bar, patrons can order a bowl of Dole Whip soft serve, or take it up a notch by getting the boozy float version called the Maiden Voyage. The drink comes with Mount Gay black barrel rum, Rhum Clément coconut liqueur, fresh pineapple juice and a dollop of the creamy ice cream, as a festive garnish of a pineapple slice and a few of the fruit's spiky leaves. The drink was added to Jungle Bird's lineup in May and has developed quite a following, so co-owner Tyler Williams (who also owns nearby Tank House BBQ & Bar and downtown's Ten Ten Room with his wife, Melissa) says it won't take flight from the oft-changing cocktail offerings anytime soon. $10 ($4 for the Dole Whip bowl). 2516 J St. 916-476-3280. junglebird.virb.com

Photo by Anna Wick

Watermelon Mule at Kick N Mule

This pastel-pink drink has been on the menu at Kick N Mule since the West Sacramento hideaway opened last summer, but it has spiked in popularity these past sweltering months. One of the establishment’s 22 different takes on the classic Moscow Mule, this cocktail, which is served over ice, features Three Olives watermelon vodka, fresh muddled melon, lime juice and Sacramento-made Ghost Lady ginger beer, and is garnished with a watermelon wedge and lime. For those looking to share, the bar also serves a gargantuan 96-ounce version for you and seven of your imbibing buddies. $9. 2901 W. Capital Ave. West Sacramento. 916-572-0264. kicknmule.com

Photo by Vu Chau

La Sandia at Midtown Cantina Alley

Growing up in Mexico City, Midtown Cantina Alley bar manager Oscar Escobar would often scarf down fresh fruits dusted with chili powder and squeezes of lime juice from food stands on his way home from school. At this open-air bar and restaurant, Escobar wanted to create a sweet-spicy-tart drink that reminded him of his childhood snack and came up with what has become the hot spot's signature libation: La Sandia, a watermelon-infused margarita made with locally grown melon and lime, and blended with agave nectar and tequila imported from Mexico. The drink is then poured into a hollowed-out gourd and served over ice with watermelon slices (or rings of juicy pineapple), all topped with piquant Tajín for a fiery kick. $23. 2300 Jazz Alley. 916-970-5588. cantinaalley.com

Photo courtesy of Midtown Cantina Alley

Frozen cocktail flight at Sail Inn Grotto & Bar

Can't choose between a frosé and a blended strawberry daiquiri? At Sail Inn Grotto & Bar, the maritime-themed West Sacramento restaurant and bar, you don't have to. The spot's frozen cocktail flight comes with five rotating drinks, including the aforementioned strawberry daiquiri and frosé (frozen rosé), but also a frozen Jack and Coke, piña colada, fromosa (frozen mimosa) and Iceberg Shandy (frosé or fromosa topped off with Scrimshaw Pilsner). The flight, which debuted in May as a summer item, has become so popular that co-owner Wayne Morse now plans to keep it on the menu year-round. $16. 1522 Jefferson Blvd. West Sacramento. 916-272-2733. sailinngrotto.com

Photo courtesy of @admiraljefferson via Instagram

Hibiscus Mojito at Sutter Street Steakhouse

This Folsom steakhouse offers up an herbaceous take on the classic mojito (a blend of rum, lime and mint). The concoction—which often appears as a weekly special, but can be ordered anytime throughout the year—includes a combination of Tito's vodka, Fruit Labs hibiscus liqueur, lavender, club soda, lime juice and mint leaves. It's served over ice in a tall, clear wine glass with a lime wheel and more mint. $11. 604 Sutter St. Folsom. 916-351-9100. sutterstreetsteakhouse.com

Photo courtesy of Sutter Street Steakhouse

Garden Party at Ten Ten Room

This downtown restaurant's cocktail menu is divided into two categories: the classics and the originals. The former offers a set of oldies like Harvey Wallbangers and Grasshoppers, while the latter shows off seasonal inventions like the standout Garden Party, which is made with a blend of Lillet rosé, vodka, strawberry and lemon juices and hibiscus that's poured over ice and topped off with chilled Prosecco. Fresh strawberry, tiny edible flowers and a sprig of rosemary garnish the red concoction, which looks sharp served in a tall wine glass. $10. 1010 10th St. 916-272-2888. tentenroom.com

Photo by Anna Wick

The Margareta at Tequila Museo Mayahuel

This pineapple margarita at Ernesto Delgado’s K Street eatery, Tequila Museo Mayahuel, is no standard tequila and lime slush. The Margareta—a portmanteau of the words “margarita” and “paleta” (which means ice pop in Spanish)—is a blend of Frida Kahlo tequila, pineapple juice, lime and agave nectar, and is served over ice with a piña-lime ice pop and spicy Tajín seasoning on the rim. In crafting the beverage, Delgado reflected on his childhood memories in Mexico, where he used to cool down with paletas sold from small street carts. $10. 1200 K St. 916-441-7200. tequilamuseo.com

Photo courtesy of Tequila Museo Mayahuel

Chiquita Banana with Rum at Todo Un Poco

Influenced by a trip to Colombia six years ago, Todo Un Poco owner Marie Mertz decided to bring a little taste of the tropics to Elk Grove with her new frozen Chiquita Banana cocktail. The icy, blended beverage—comprising banana purée, triple sec and rum, garnished with slices of fresh banana and cherry—began as a special brunch option, but due to high demand, the fruit-forward cocktail is now part of the permanent drink lineup. $9. 9080 Laguna Main St. Elk Grove. 916-684-7774. todounpocobistro.com

Photo courtesy of Todo Un Poco

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