6 Refreshing Cocktails From Florida’s Gulf Coast

We’re nearing the end of summer, which is bittersweet—though if you live somewhere particularly warm like I do you’re probably also looking forward to cooler days ahead. In the meantime, a refreshing cocktail is a delicious way to cool down, and if you’re looking for some cocktail inspiration you’ve come to the right place. I asked beverage pros from some of my favorite restaurants on Florida’s Gulf Coast to share recipes for popular cocktails on their menus, and they did not disappoint. If you’re local, pop on by and sip these drinks poolside or while enjoying a view of the white-sand beach and Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise, you can get a taste of Northwest Florida by making these at home.

Steal My Sunshine

Recipe by Danielle Coluccio, food and beverage manager at Hotel Effie in Miramar Beach

“This bright and juicy riff on a classic sherry cobbler is a refreshing and crushable cocktail for a hot day,” Coluccio says. “Passion fruit lends a tangy sweetness to the light-bodied sherry, while the bourbon adds subtle salinity.”

“The original sherry cobbler is already a low ABV cocktail, with most sherries sitting between 15% and 20% alcohol. By splitting the bourbon with sherry, shaking the cocktail and serving with crushed ice, this summertime sipper pours at about 11.5% ABV. Allowing the bourbon to support the sherry, rather than take center stage, keeps the rounded bourbon flavor present while highlighting the salty, almondy goodness of light-bodied sherry.”

Recipe for Steal My Sunshine

Yields 1 drink


1 oz Basil Hayden bourbon

1 oz sherry (we recommend Manzanilla, Amontillado or Oloroso)

0.5 oz Chinola passion fruit liqueur

0.75 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz lemon juice

0.5 oz rich demerara syrup**

Mint sprig and orange twist, for garnish


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add 3-4 ice cubes and shake hard for about 8 seconds.

Strain into a rocks glass and pack the glass with crushed ice.

Garnish with a hearty mint sprig and orange twist. If you’re feeling extra fancy, dust some powdered sugar on the mint leaves to make them pop!

**for the rich demerara syrup:

2 c turbinado cane sugar

1 c boiling water

Add boiling water to sugar and whisk until completely dissolved. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 30 days.

Summer on 30A

Served at Watersound Club’s Bark ‘N Brine at Camp Creek

“The invention of this drink is actually tied to a summer fundraiser about 10 years ago that donated a portion of the proceeds of each drink sale to Habitat for Humanity,” recalls Kristy McKinney, general manager for Watersound Beach Club and Watersound Inn. “It’s a very versatile drink—so light and refreshing that it can be a little bit dangerous. It presents very crisply and cleanly, and the fresh watermelon gives it the taste of the summer season right in your glass. The most important thing is to make sure the ingredients are fresh, but as long as you can do that it’s an anytime drink. Ideally, I’d enjoy it while lying in a hammock on the beach!”

Recipe for Summer on 30A

Yields 1 drink


3 two-inch watermelon cubes

2 cucumber slices

0.75 oz. basil simple syrup**

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

2.5 oz vodka

0.25 oz St-Germain elderflower liqueur


Muddle watermelon, cucumber, basil simple syrup and juices in a shaker.

Add vodka and St-Germain.

Shake for 10-15 seconds.

Strain over ice.

Garnish with watermelon and a cucumber slice.

**for the basil simple syrup:

1 c water

1 c white sugar

1 c fresh basil leaves

Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and mix together. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves completely.

Take simple syrup off the heat, then let it steep for 30 minutes.

Remove basil leaves, let the syrup cool, then refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 30 days.

Explosion of Flavors

Served at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood in Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

Made with smoky mezcal, chipotle-pineapple syrup, pineapple juice and lime juice, this stunning cocktail tastes like summer in a glass. The Tajín rim gives this drink an extra kick if you’re looking to spice up your summer. It’s been a staple on the Seagar’s menu for many seasons and pairs well with steak, seafood and so much more.

Recipe for Explosion of Flavors

Yields 1 drink


1.5 oz Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal

1 oz Monin Chipotle Pineapple syrup

0.5 oz pineapple juice

0.5 oz lime juice

Tajín, for rimming glass

Dehydrated pineapple and mint sprig, for garnish


Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin.

Add ice and give a quick shake.

Pour into a 1/2 Tajín-rimmed double old-fashioned glass.

So Fresh and So Clean

Recipe by Greg Genias, owner of BootlegGreg Cocktail Co. and beverage consultant at The Daytrader Tiki Bar & Restaurant in Seaside

“The cocktail is so good that there is a current petition to make it the official cocktail of Florida,” says Greg Genias. “When we were researching the menu for The Daytrader and stumbled upon this vodka flavor, the connection was immediate. I knew we wanted a cocktail option that had the perfect balance of life and liquor, and this was it.” It’s made with award-winning ChainBridge Distillery Florida Basil Vodka, raw cucumber extract, lime juice and simple syrup. Together, these ingredients create a perfect balance of sweetness, herbaceousness (from the basil) and clean flavors from the cucumber.

Recipe for So Fresh and So Clean Recipe

Yields 1 drink


1 oz simple syrup

1 oz lime juice

1 oz raw cucumber extract**

2 oz ChainBridge basil vodka

Basil sprig and cucumber ribbon, for garnish


In a cocktail shaker, add the simple syrup, lime juice, cucumber extract and vodka.

Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously.

Double strain with a Hawthorne and mesh strainer in a coupe glass.

Garnish with basil sprig and skewered cucumber ribbon.

**for the raw cucumber extract:

1 English cucumber

Chop up 1 English cucumber, leaving the skin on.

Put cucumber chunks and 1 cup of distilled water in a blender.

Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Strain with a fine mesh strainer, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days

Summer Crush Spritzer

Served at Farm & Fire in Santa Rosa Beach

“The Summer Crush is a play on the classic Aperol spritz and a great way to combat the heat,” says Zach Chamblee, manager at Farm & Fire. “Built in a tulip wine glass filled with ice, Italicus bergamot liqueur is added on top of the ice, followed by Aperol and fresh OJ. Fill it just below the rim with a solid pour of Prosecco and top with a splash of soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lemon twist to serve.”

Recipe for Summer Crush Spritzer

Yields 1 drink


0.75 oz Aperol

0.75 oz Italicus (bergamot liqueur)

1 oz fresh orange juice

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice


Soda water

Lemon twist and mint sprig, for garnish


In a wine glass with ice, pour in the Aperol, Italicus, orange juice and lemon juice.

Top off with equal parts Prosecco and soda water.

Garnish with a lemon twist and mint sprig.

Isla Swizzle

Recipe by beverage manager Courtney Stagg and head bartender Tyler Faust at The Citizen in Alys Beach

“The swizzle is one of the most refreshing beverages on a hot summer day,” says Stagg and Faust. “We chose vodka, added lime zest to its aromatic complexity, and paired it with falernum for a warming Caribbean spice. A healthy handful of mint adds a cooling freshness, and the dragon fruit powder finishes it off with a tart tropical fruitiness and a gorgeous pop of color.”

Recipe for Isla Swizzle

Yields 1 drink


5-7 mint leaves

0.5 oz mint syrup**

0.75 oz lime juice

0.5 oz falernum

1.5 oz lime-infused vodka**

Dusting of dragonfruit powder

Mint bundle, for garnish


Add the mint leaves and mint syrup to a collins glass and gently press the mint to release the oils.

Add lime juice, falernum and lime vodka.

Insert a swizzle stick and fill the glass with crushed ice. Swizzle to mix.

Top off with more crushed ice.

Sprinkle dragonfruit powder on top of the ice. Garnish with a mint bundle.

**for the mint syrup:

Tightly pack mint leaves into a container and fill with cold water. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Strain the mint and measure the remaining mint water. Measure an equal amount of sugar.

Combine sugar and mint water in a blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved.

**for the lime-infused vodka:

Zest of 2 limes

1 liter vodka

Combine lime zest and vodka.

Strain after 24 hours.

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