Were it any other summer, we’d be spending our evenings seeking relief from the heat, and the work week, at the local bar. But in the summer of 2020, in the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, many bars are closed or, if they’re open, scary infection risks. The outdoors — whether a park, a campsite, or your backyard — have become the new, BYOB bar. Stumped on what to sip? We’ve handpicked a few delicious, underrated options that work well solo or in a simple cocktail to make for easy outdoor drinking.
The quintessential red
Mocha, black cherry, and vanilla notes create a sumptuous blend for those craving an alternative to the typical bright, spritzy summer fare.
For vodka newbies
Made with huckleberries, Idaho potatoes, and Rocky Mountain water, this outdoorsy spirit, distilled by Black-owned 44° North Vodka, is the ideal post-hike celebratory drink.
The Instagram-worthy bubbly
Pop this light, citrusy bubbly — which pairs amazingly with hard, salty cheeses, like aged Parmesan — at your next socially distanced birthday picnic.
The minimalist's spiked seltzer
This canned seltzer — made only with blue agave tequila, organic juice, and sparkling water — is a fresh, portable take on the classic tequila soda.
The Watermelon "Juice"
If summer were a spirit, it would be this smooth, watermelon-infused vodka. Sip it on its own, or use it to freshen up some bubbly.
Elevate your rosé game with this offering from Smoke Tree, which has hints of citrus and strawberry, with subtle aromas such as passion fruit and rose petals.
The poolside canned cocktail
These cocktails-in-a-can (that come in paloma, margarita, sangria, and bellini varieties) are not only convenient, they contain organic ingredients and zero added sugars.
The one-mixer wonder
This one’s a classic for a reason: It’s infused with a distinct combination of cucumbers and roses, yet balanced enough to stand alone or mix into a cocktail.
The cleanest vodka
Made with Carpathian Mountains spring water and Ukrainian wheat, this vodka tastes true to its name.
The picnic brunch staple
This champagne’s name stems from the practice of calling wines blended for sweetness as “rich,” meaning, yes, this is a sugary one, made for mixing.
The summer evening on the rocks
I love Basil Hayden’s, and the 10-year aged rye reminds me why, with cinnamon and vanilla notes, balanced by char and a spicy bite — perfect for sipping on summer nights.
The dessert drink
The rosè that stays cold
If a bottle of rosé feels stuffy — or you can’t trust your clumsy self to get it to the park in one piece (raises hand) — these cans of effervescent rosé might be more your style.
The spicy vodka
California-cultivated peppers converge with cilantro and lime peel to create a savory, piquant concoction that pairs perfectly with tacos.
Channel your inner Bond with this single malt Scotch whisky, aged in sherry and bourbon casks, with notes of apple, peach, and warm oak spices.
The vacation simulator
If you crave robust flavors, this mezcal has the signature smokiness of mezcal, with a touch of citrus and spice.
The crucial Caipirinha base
Sweet, refreshing, and the perfect foundation for a cookout Caipirinha, this sustainably produced Cachaça — a staple spirit of Brazil — is delicious sipped on its own as well.
The CBD-infused alternative
For those not interested in imbibing for any reason, this zesty sparkling seltzer has a small hit of CBD to provide you with some non-alcoholic chill on warm evenings made for forgetting about pandemics.
The virtual trip to Japan
Bright and balanced, this blend of six Japanese botanicals (“roku” means “six” in Japanese) — including citrusy yuzu and spicy sancho peppers — is best served ice cold, either stirred into tonic or on its own.
The microdoser's pick
These “social tonics” are infused with just enough cannabis to make me giddy, and have a subtle, refreshing, not overly weed-y flavor. The Lemon Lavender is a promised crowd pleaser.
The Italian getaway
Made with elderflower syrup and mint, this taste of Milan is best enjoyed ice cold with soda water.
For the sipper
Philanthropy-minded and Black owned, Revel is as conscious as it is invested in making avila (an agave spirit similar to tequila) for grown-ups. Skip the lime and salt for this reposado, and sip slow.
Mic may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. We only include products that have been independently selected by Mic's editorial team.
Purists prefer a generous pour of good whiskey, neat. And if you’re feeling particularly fancy, pair with dark chocolate, hazelnuts, or slivers of Manchego.