On a sweltering summer night, the best way to beat the heat is with a cold, crisp and refreshing cocktail. And when it comes to crisp and refreshing, Stoli vodka’s your best choice for base spirit. These cocktails, from top bartenders in three cities and two countries, are best after the sun sets on a hot summer day.

Summers in Canada are short, but the nights are long. Our neighbors to the north like to take full advantage. Winnipeg barman Joel Carleton stumbled upon a perfect summer cocktail in the dead of winter. He originally created the It’s Complicated for a Valentine’s Day event (thus the heart-shaped garnish). But it turns out the fruity pink drink, which combines vodka with bittersweet Aperol and watermelon juice, is way better suited to August than February. An unexpected pinch of cracked pepper in the shaker gives a wonderful savory complexity to an otherwise simple cocktail.

Chris Day has tended bar at several of Los Angeles’ top nightspots. He’s also a huge cocktail geek with an encyclopedic knowledge of classics, which he showcases at his current spot, Bar Tribute. For cooling down in summer, Day suggests the Palma Fizz, a sophisticated take on the Moscow Mule. The Palma swaps out the old favorite’s canned ginger beer for club soda and a homemade ginger syrup (sounds impressive, but it’s just two ingredients), and adds a few dashes of perfumey rose water to give a very simple drink exotic and unusual flavor.

Perhaps no American bartender is more influential right now than Pamela Wiznitzer, who both runs New York’s Seamstress and serves as national president of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. Her summer Stoli vodka drink looks south, turning the classic Julep into an artisanal creation. Georgia on My Mind uses a splash of apricot brandy for summery stone-fruit notes, plus sweet-tart lemon curd (store-bought is fine, or you can make your own) and nutty, slightly bitter rooibos tea. The most important part of the drink is using lots of crushed ice: Juleps should be served very, very cold for prime effectiveness, especially on a Southern summer night.


It’s Complicated

by Joel Carleton, Bee’s Knees Bar Services, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Ingredients

• 1 oz. Stoli Vodka
• ½ oz. Aperol
• ½ oz. Lemon juice
• ½ oz. Watermelon syrup (1 part watermelon juice, 2 parts sugar)
• 1 dash Peach bitters
• 1 pinch Fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and double-strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with a thin slice of watermelon.


Palma Fizz

by Chris Day, Bar Tribute, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Ingredients

• 2 oz. Stoli Vodka
• ¾ oz. Ginger syrup (2 parts ginger juice, 3 parts sugar)
• ½ oz. Lime juice
• 3 dashes Rose water
• Club soda

Directions

Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a shaker and add a few ice cubes. Shake briefly and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Fill with club soda and garnish with a lime wheel or mint sprig.


Georgia on My Mind

by Pamela Wiznitzer, Seamstress, New York

Ingredients

• 1½ oz. Stoli Vodka
• ½ oz. Apricot brandy
• 1 oz. Brewed rooibos tea, chilled
• ¾ oz. Lemon juice
• 1 tbsp. Lemon curd
• 3 dashes Orange bitters

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a Julep cup filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprinkle of loose rooibos tea and a dried lemon wheel.