Ask A Connecticut Expert: Top Summertime Vodka Cocktails

July 31, 2014 7:00 AM

File photo of vodka drinks. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for WIRED)

At the end of a long summer day, nothing feels better than kicking off your shoes and relaxing on your deck or backyard with a refreshing cocktail. For some great recipes for vodka cocktails that are perfect for the season, we turned to Charles Oat. The experienced mixologist is an instructor at the Connecticut School of Bartending and really knows his drinks.

Charles Oat
CT School of Bartending
76 Franklin St.
Norwich, CT 06360
(860) 886-1955

Charles Oat says that creating drinks is his passion, and he’s been doing it for many years. The US Navy veteran is a classically trained mixologist who has bartended for, among others, Nick Nolte, Blue Oyster Cult and members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. He also mixes drinks for Diva Nights at Tuscany in Mohegan Sun. Oat’s most well-known concoction is the popular-if-controversially-named cocktail the Irish Car Bomb, which he first made in 1979. There’s nothing controversial about what follows – just some of Oat’s favorite vodka cocktails. Enjoy!

CT Lemonade Made In the Shade

Oat says, “Lemonade In the Shade is an exotic takeoff on a Margarita-style base. I make it in half-gallon batches.”


  • 750 ml of your choice of a nice vodka (CT’s Foggy Harbor or Onyx Moonshine recommended)
  • 1/4 oz Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 1 liter of lemon, lime juice and Triple sec mixture (you may use Master of Mixers margarita mix)
  • 2-3 tbsp organic agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp organic orange marmalade
  • 20 drops of bitters
  • 5-6 oz orange and mango juice
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves


  1. Muddle bitters, agave nectar, orange marmalade and a hint of Grand Marnier and fresh basil leaves.
  2. Add lemon, lime juice and Triple sec along with a measure of orange and mango juices.
  3. Add equal amount of vodka.
  4. Shake and chill overnight.
  5. Serve on the rocks.

Island Fling (Shooters or Shots)


  • 0.5 oz Stoli vodka
  • 1 oz Chambord Black Raspberry liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Mount Gay rum
  • pineapple and orange juice


  1. Shake all ingredients together.
  2. Pour into shots and serve.

Related: Most Creative Cocktails In Connecticut

The Traveler

“The Traveler was a drink I first created at the Greater Hartford Open PGA golf tournament, now called the Travelers Championship.”


  • 1.5 oz of your choice of cranberry vodka (you may also use orange or citrus)
  • orange and pineapple juice
  • ginger ale


  1. Build vodka, orange and pineapple juice in a highball or cooler glass along with a splash of ginger ale.
  2. Garnish with a lemon wheel and serve.

Connecticut Cooler


  • 0.5 oz your choice of vodka
  • 3/4 oz Amaretto Disaronno
  • 0.5 B & B (Benedictine & Brandy)
  • orange and lime juice
  • club soda


  1. Pour vodka, Amaretto Disaronno and B & B into cooler glass over ice.
  2. Fill with orange juice and squeeze fresh lime juice.
  3. Top with club soda.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.

CT Sunset

Oat calls this a transitional cocktail. “A straight up chilled cocktail is made,” he explains, “and then you carefully add 0.5 oz of a compatible liqueur piped down the side of the cocktail glass so that it pools in the bottom of the glass. You enjoy the cold cocktail and at the end, you transition into the liqueur or cordial.”


  • 3/4 oz your choice of vodka
  • 3/4 oz Patron Reposado
  • 0.5 Chambord liqueur
  • 1/8 oz organic agave nectar
  • 1/8 prickly pear syrup
  • 2 oz organic lemonade
  • 2 fresh basil leaves


  1. Muddle basil leaves, agave nectar and prickly pear syrup in mixing glass.
  2. Add ice, vodka, lemonade and Patron Reposado.
  3. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Carefully pour Chambord down the side of glass so that it pools at the bottom.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of basil and a lemon wheel and serve.

Related: Top Champagne Drinks From A Connecticut Mixologist

Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on

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