Crown your movable feast with an eclectic mix of refreshing spritzers, canned cocktails and seasonal serves, says Sam Wylie-Harris. As summer heats up, there's a lovely casualness that shapes our drinking rituals. Just as we reach for our wicker baskets and holiday wardrobe, the fashion for fruity libations and breezy spritzers strikes just the right balance and radiates all the right vibes.
At the drop of a hat, summer seasonal serves – such as strawberry scented beer, canned bubbles and low abv wines – feel as natural as switching our glassware for faux stemware, sage for mint, topping our hampers and cooler bags with a festival blanket and making sure there’s enough ice for the second round.
Whether you’re packing a picnic, heading to the seaside or entertaining al fresco at home, these top drops hit just the right spot…
1. M&S Cocktail Cans: Aperitivo Spritzer, Peach Spritzer, Cherry Spritzer and Vermouth & Tonic (£2 each, 5.5% abv, 25cl, Marks & Spencer stores)
What’s not to love about these new canned cocktails in four fab flavours, channelling lots of fruity fun. The Aperitivo Spritzer has a core of fragrant orange bitters, the Peach Spritzer screams sweet, ripe peaches, Cherry is sweetly refreshing, while the Vermouth & Tonic boasts a tincture of herbs.
2. CIROC Summer Watermelon Vodka (£32.40, 70cl, 31dover)
Nothing signals summer like this classic tropical fruit, especially in a flavoured vodka. Introducing CIROC Watermelon Spritz: CIROC 40ml Summer Watermelon Vodka, 20ml lemonade, 40ml soda, 10ml cranberry juice. Serve over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a lime wheel, fresh watermelon wheel and sprig of fresh mint.
3. Lanson Brut NV Champagne Wimbledon 2019 Neoprene Jacket (£25, Tesco stores)
Champagne of the Championships, a whopping 25,000 bottles of Lanson were popped open at the famous two-week tennis tournament last year – and if you want to soak up the atmosphere but don’t have tickets, a stylish garden party and hamper full of grand slam treats makes a winning combination. The limited-edition racket-themed cooler jackets are specially designed to keep the bottle chilled for up to two hours and will cheer you through the summer season.
4. Black Cow English Strawberries Vodka (£27.95, 70cl, The Whisky Exchange)
Another flavoured vodka newbie, this blush pink is infused with pressed strawberries to lend a sweet, fresh, strawberry note and makes a fun summery cocktail when it’s mixed with ginger ale. Meet Ginger Blossom: 35ml Black Cow Vodka & English Strawberries topped with ginger ale and garnished with English strawberries and a wedge of lime.
5. Camden Town Brewery’s Strawberry Hells Forever Lager (£6 for 4 x 33cl cans, 4.6% abv, Sainsbury’s)
Still room for more strawbs in your punnet? How about a swift half of strawberry beer? Camden Town are kick-starting the first of their ‘Seasonal Hells’ with this summertime lager brewed with strawberries. Crisp with a faint hint of the summer fruits on the hoppy finish, it’s tart, tastes refreshingly good and should appeal to those looking for new taste experiences. Released every quarter, the one-off beers are inspired by the seasons.
6. Graham’s Blend No 5 White Port (£21.25, 75cl, Master of Malt)
We’ve been dubbing a P&T the new G&T for a while now, and it only takes a mini heatwave to appreciate how remarkably refreshing a bone dry, white port and tonic is. A delicious aperitif that also bridges the gap between a white wine spritzer and vodka and tonic (at 19% abv), serve on the rocks, top with tonic (Double Dutch have recently launched their premium mixers in cans) and garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of fresh mint. Serve with salted almonds, olives and petiscos (Portugal’s answer to tapas).
7. Co-op Own-Label Low Alcohol Sauvignon Blanc, Garnacha Rose and Cabernet Tempranillo, Spain (£3 each, less than 0.5% abv, Co-op stores)
The trend for ‘low or no’ shows no sign of slowing, and these latest additions to Co-op’s low and no-alcohol range are perfect for sipping in the sunshine.
The red is fun and fruity with a brush of blackberry fruit, the rosy pink offers raspberry and strawberry flavours, and the white shows an exotic citrusy note. Perfect for sangria (without a fuzzy head the next day), hold the brandy and sugar and mix with soda water, orange juice and sliced fruit.
Note to self: Check out the crystal-look, oversized acrylic wine glasses and flutes (£4.49 each), tumblers (£3.99) and jug (£14.99) at Lakeland.
8. The Uncommon White Bubbly, England (£4.99, 25cl, Waitrose stores)
A must for posh picnics, we love this quirky can with its quintessentially British design, formalwear and bowler hat. A lightly sparkling dry white made from bacchus grapes (similar in sorts to sauvignon blanc), it’s naturally low in sugar and offers fizz fanatics a crisper, dryer alternative to prosecco.
9. Wine Chat Malbec, France (£18, 2.25L, Sainsbury’s)
From beach to bar, a brilliant BBQ, picnic or al fresco red – this box has two finger holes so it’s easy to carry and we love the cute label – this French malbec is brimming with bright blueberries and ripe raspberries, feels fragrant, fruity and juicy and finishes with soft tannins. Pairs perfectly with French bread, saucisson, cheese and dips.