Ask A Cleveland Expert: Best Summertime Vodka Cocktails

Summer is all about sunshine and friends here in Cleveland. What could make that combination better? A refreshing cocktail, of course. Vodka is a common choice for summer cocktails as the alcohol tends to take on the flavors that it is mixed with very well. This leaves the door open to plenty of possibilities for cocktails this summer. Below are some ideas from Cleveland expert Colleen Drakage to get you started.

Colleen Drakage
Luxe Kitchen and Lounge
6605 Detroit Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 920-0600

Colleen Drakage has been bar tending since she was 19 after starting her career as a server. For the past two and a half years, she has been serving up delicious and creative cocktails with a smile at Luxe in the Detroit-Shoreway district. A well-seasoned bar tender and taste tester, Colleen suggests that she may have gained a sixth sense and loves to tailor her bar tending to each individual she meets. By doing so, she creates a unique experience for customers and gets to know them, which is her favorite part of the job. A naturally social "people person," Colleen loves meeting customers and developing relationships with the regulars that come to Luxe.

The following are a few recipes Colleen suggests enjoying with a light summer salad and some simply prepared veggies for a delicious treat that will cool you off and keep the summer days tasty and refreshing. She even recommends experimenting with the second two recipes and substituting some new fruit and herb combinations for your own fresh concoctions. Dig around in your garden, use stevia leaves for a natural sweetener or browse the local farmers' market for some ideas.

Related: Best Bars With Great Rum Selections In Cleveland


Colleen created this drink and is currently serving it at Luxe this summer. Stop by and try it out!


  • Soak orange peels and vanilla beans in vodka for a week
  • Mix with a splash of Dolin Blanc to taste
  • Top with lemonade and a splash of ginger beer

Strawberry Basil Lemonade


  • Muddle basil and strawberries with a dash of simple syrup
  • Shake with vodka and strain over ice
  • Top with lemonade
  • Garnish with slice of strawberry and lemon on rim and sprig of basil on top

Watermelon Mint Lemonade


  • Muddle mint and watermelon with a dash of simple syrup
  • Shake with vodka and strain over ice
  • Top with lemonade and slice of lemon on rim and mint leaf on top

Bonus: Make your own lemonade!


  • 1 quart fresh-squeezed lemons
  • 1 quart simple syrup
  • 2 quarts filtered water

Related: Ask A Cleveland Expert: Fourth Of July Cocktail Recipes

Kaitlin Dershaw is an Ohio native with a distinct love for Cleveland. She enjoys making new discoveries from tasty places to eat and drink, to perfectly unique live music venues. Her work can be found at