Smart Summer Drinking Guide – Get Loose While Staying Hydrated
Summer is a great time to throw on your shorts or swimsuit, grab a cold drink, and relax with family and friends.
Unfortunately, summer also means high temperatures and an abundance of sun, which makes it very easy to overindulge in alcoholic beverages, get dehydrated, and ruin the good time because you end up feeling weak, sick, or worse.
To alleviate the issues that dehydration causes, I put together this Smart Summer Drinking Guide. Now, you can safely navigate these short-lived summer months by knowing how to drink wisely.
Inside, I will discuss:
The dangers of dehydration
The best and worst beverages for staying hydrated
Delicious summer cocktails and “mocktails” recipes
Tricks to pace alcohol consumption
Best places to enjoy those summer drinks
Drinking safety for driving or boating
I’m lucky to live where it’s hot and sunny all year long, which means I know what I’m talking about when it comes to smart summertime drinking. Let’s dive right in and learn how to avoid making drinking mistakes this summer!
The Dangers of Dehydration and How to Avoid It
Roughly 60 percent of the human body is water, and without it, we cannot survive. Low water intake impairs the ability of cells and blood vessels to function correctly.
During the day, as we breathe, use the bathroom, and sweat, we lose water. If you do not replenish lost fluids, you become dehydrated.
Thirst is the body’s way to alert you that it needs more water to keep working correctly. Generally, people are aware of when they feel thirsty and grab a drink without giving it much thought.
Problems, such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, or weakness occur with mild levels of dehydration. Severe dehydration presents itself by adding in sunken eyes, fever, no sweat, low blood pressure, delirium, and even unconsciousness, which require prompt medical attention.
So how does summer drinking increase your risk of dehydration?
Factors such as:
The hot temps and sun exposure increase normal water loss through sweating
Sports, games, or activities distract you from consistent fluid intake
Many drinks contain alcohol or sugar, which act as a diuretic
Alcohol can simply make you forget to maintain good hydration practices
Losing water through sweat is common knowledge, but many people fail to realize that alcohol, especially high alcohol volume liquors, works as a diuretic.
This process means your body will pull fluids from your blood to offset the effects of the alcohol on your kidneys, liver, bladder, and tissues. This leads to an increase in urine flow further depleting the fluids in your body.
How to avoid dehydration
You must take precautions to avoid dehydration by following these general rules:
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Experts recommend drinking a minimum of 64-96 ounces of water per day and even more if you are engaging in sports or physical labor.
Food helps balance lost nutrients and provides up to 20 percent of your necessary fluid intake, which helps slow down the effects of dehydration. Most people also drink a beverage with their food, which also increases fluid intake.
OFFSET ALCOHOL WITH EXTRA WATER
After any alcoholic drink, offset the diuretic impact by drinking a glass of water or low-sugar fruit drink. The body metabolizes alcohol slowly, so taking in water between drinks gives it a chance to catch up.
PASS ON DARK DRINKS
Coffee contains caffeine, and dark liquors like whiskey or rum contain congeners. Both are known to exacerbate dehydration within the body.
The Best Summer Drinks for the Ice Chest to Stay Hydrated
It’s always wise to pack your cooler with more than beer or wine. Having a variety of hydrating drinks will enable you to balance out your bloodstream’s alcohol levels without feeling like you’re missing out.
Let me give you a run-down of best to worst drinks when it comes to providing hydration.
1. Water – Of course water tops the list, but let’s be honest, it gets boring real fast. If you want to feel you are enjoying a festive atmosphere, sparkling or seltzer water can add some pizzazz without losing the hydrating benefits.
2. Fruit-infused or flavored water – Plain water infused with fresh fruits (or veggies) or sugar-free flavors hits the spot and makes for a tasty way to stay hydrated. These types of waters are also excellent mixers for cocktails to increase their hydration and nutrient factors.
3. Coconut water – Real coconut water is a healthy choice and offers an impressive 95-percent water content along with an interesting flavor that you can drink straight or use as a mixer. Take a peek at the ingredients if buying packaged coconut water, since many brands sneak in additional sugar.
4. Low or no-added-sugar fruit juices – Store-bought fruit juice is typically about 85-percent water, which is another great choice for the cooler, especially if you want to mix up fresh beach drinks during the day.
Avoid fruit juices with added sugar, which will inhibit hydration. If you can’t find low-sugar juice, add in some water to offset the sugar content when you mix your drink.
5. Sports drinks – Sports drinks include water, electrolytes, and tasty flavors that are very helpful in hydrating after playing in the hot sun. On the downside, most sports drinks are high in sugar content, which can be nearly the same amount found in a regular soda. Opt for sugar-free versions to benefit from the potassium and salts if you’re feeling a bit woozy.
6. Soda – The caffeine found in most sodas can cause negative hydration effects on your body. Considering all the sugar that these beverages contain, you have a drink that does nothing to help alleviate dehydration on hot summer days.
7. Beer – Consuming beer, especially higher alcohol content craft beers, will have a dehydrating effect on the body. They cause you to lose more water from your tissues than you are adding back from the water inside the beer. Light beers typically have a lower alcohol content and are a better choice.
8. Wine – Wine comes in at around 12-percent alcohol. This fact puts it over the 10-percent level that impacts the body as a true dehydrator, removing more liquid than what is taken in.
9. Hard liquor – Hard liquors start at around 37-percent alcohol, and can create the biggest issue when it comes to dehydration during summer drinking. Taking a shot or two with a group of friends while partying is fun, but doing so can wreak havoc with the body’s ability to keep water levels in balance.
10. Energy drinks – When it comes to energy drinks and summer drinking, I wish everyone would just take a pass. With the negative-hydration effects of the caffeine, sugar, and chemicals, you are better off leaving them behind even if you like to use them as a mixer.
Refreshing Summer Cocktails and Mocktails
Here are some of the best cocktails that are both delicious and refreshing. What I like best is that all of these, even the non-alcoholic versions, can take on extra water without dulling the taste. This makes them ideal for summer partying with added benefits of helping to maintain hydration.
TROPICAL PIMM’S COOLER
1.5 OZ PIMM’S
.5 OZ Lemon juice
.25 OZ banana liqueur
1 mint sprig
Set aside the mint and seltzer water and shake up the other ingredients with a bit of ice. Pour into an ice-filled cup and top it off with plenty of seltzer water and the mint. Don’t like the taste of banana? Substitute orange or pineapple liqueur instead.
BEACHY MARGARITA (Batch)
- 12 OZ silver tequila
- 6 OZ lime juice
- 1.5 OZ light agave
- 3 OZ water
- 6-8 fresh-cut lime wheels
Warm up an ounce or so of the water to stir in the light agave until it dissolves. Pour the mixture and the rest of the ingredients into a container, shake up, and chill in refrigerator overnight for the most flavor. Shake again before serving over ice.
Low-sugar or bitter cocktails
I find that the best beach drinks are those that are low in sugar. There is something about the salt air and sand that makes overly-sweet drinks hard to consume without feeling bogged down.
COURAGEOUS KOI SOUR
- 1 OZ Rye whiskey
- 1 OZ Bourbon
- 1 OZ Lemon juice
- .5 OZ Orgeat (Almond syrup)
- .5 OZ Petite Canne cane syrup
- Tiki Bitters – 3 dashes
- Lemon wheels and cherry spears for garnish
Set aside the garnishes and shake all other ingredients together. Strain into a mug full of ice. Garnish with lemon wheels and a cherry spear.
- 1 OZ Gold Rum
- 1 OZ Amaro
- .5 OZ Falernum
- .5 OZ Lime Juice
- Orange Bitters – 1 dash
- Soda water, to top off
- Orange twist or slice for garnish
Shake all ingredients except the soda water and garnish with bit of ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top off with soda water and add orange garnish.
Mocktails are ideal for non-drinkers and children to feel included in festive gatherings as well as for those who are ready to take a break between alcoholic beverages.
15 Fresh mint leaves
4 OZ Sparkling water
1 OZ Fresh lime juice
1 OZ Honey simple syrup
In a wide glass, crush/muddle the mint, lime juice and honey simple syrup until blended. Fill the cup with ice, then top off with the sparkling water. Garnish this drink with a fruit medley skewer for more color.
PASSIONFRUIT LEMONADE SPRITZ
1 OZ Passionfruit syrup
1 OZ Fresh lemon juice
Seltzer water to top off
Lemon twists or fruit skewer for garnish
Mix the passionfruit syrup and lemon juice in a glass. Fill the glass up with ice and top off with sparkling water. Gently stir all ingredients together. Garnish with a fruit skewer or lemon twists.
Easy Ways to Pace Your Summer Alcohol Drink Consumption
On hot summer days, enjoying alcoholic drinks can be fun and relaxing. However, it’s easy to overdo it, quickly become dehydrated, and turn the fun into a dangerous situation.
Downing too much alcohol not only pulls critical fluid from your body increasing dehydration, but it also pushes up your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. High BAC leads to impaired judgment, causing you to possibly do stupid things like jumping from a bridge into the river and leaving the scene via the backseat of a police cruiser. (Don’t ask where I dug up that example.)
After learning from “others” mistakes, I now present my favorite tricks to keeping hydrated while safely day drinking during the summer months (or any time of year.)
Choose high-water-volume mixers
My absolute favorite mix is lemons and cucumbers with limes and basil coming in a close second. Any fruit water will add a boost of vitamins and natural sugars to your drink keeping you energized all day.
You can opt to chill the jugs in a cooler with a bottle of your favorite hard liquor to use as a mixer. I prefer pre-mixing batches with a safe level of alcohol ahead of time, and leaving the rest of the alcohol at home. This forces you to drink only the perfect ratio of water-to-alcohol for all-day hydration.
Feel like having wine? Make some heavily fruit-laden sangria with your favorite bottle, pour over lots of ice, and snack your way to a nice, even buzz. The ice and fruit add extra liquid so you can indulge without getting as dehydrated.
Cool it down in large cups
Have you ever tried beer on ice? Admittedly, it sounds terrible, but in reality, I prefer it over trying to chug a bottle of water in between brews. This only leaves me feeling bloated. Just make sure to finish all the ice before moving on to another drink.
Ice in any drink also encourages you to slowly sip and savor the coolness, which gives your body a break to metabolize the alcohol efficiently.
Snack on watermelon
Upgrade the delivery
Lastly, take the time to make every drink visually appealing. Buy those goofy little umbrellas, cool paper straws, awesome tiki mugs, and pre-make bamboo skewers filled with fruit or olives. These elements elevate any drink, even those with no alcohol, making your summertime drinking more festive and memorable.
Garnishes also “get in the way” when trying to take a sip, slowing your alcohol-consuming pace and encouraging you to nibble, increasing your food intake.
Best Places to Enjoy Those Summer Drinks
The best place to enjoy alcoholic summer drinks without any worry is your own backyard. The biggest perk about partying in your backyard is the convenient proximity to the bathroom, fridge, and air conditioning if you feel like you’re overheating.
Other perfect summer-fun drinking destinations are the local lake or river, a friend’s pool, a campground, or the beach.
If you’re heading to a city, state, or national park, follow local laws about outdoor alcohol consumption. Many places do allow it, but most prohibit glass so pack your cooler accordingly.
Drinking and Driving or Boating Safety
Smart summer drinking begins and ends with never getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when you are under the influence.
There is nothing like a day on the water in a boat to create fantastic summer memories with your family and friends, so staying safe is crucial. While most adults know and observe drinking and driving rules, many forget that operating a boat also has laws to follow that, if broken, can lead to fines or arrest.
Along with boating frequently comes water sports like tubing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, or snorkeling that can take a dangerous turn when they include too many alcoholic drinks and the effects of dehydration kicks in.
Don’t forget about public intoxication laws even if you are nowhere near a steering wheel. Alcohol and dehydration can lead a person to do or say foolish things, so be smart and drink safely.
I appreciate how a summer cocktail can take the jitters out of a scary-fun tubing ride or relax the knees to improve your wakeboarding experience, but having more than one or two great cocktails can start to impair judgment and reaction time.
Overindulgence quickly leads to overconfidence and those “watch this!” moments that can, unfortunately, end up being dangerous or even deadly to you or others. I have scars to prove that too much drinking does not enhance your ability to ride on your waterskies up onto the beach while avoiding lounge chairs, but I digress.
If you are on a boat and doing more than tanning or chatting with friends, you need to remain at a safe BAC by only drinking “mocktails” or stick with drinking just one adult beverage per hour to give your body time to process the alcohol.
One standard drink means:
12 ounces of regular beer (about 5-percent alcohol)
5 ounces of wine (about 12-percent alcohol)
1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (about 40-percent alcohol)
Memorize these amounts and learn to balance out the alcohol for optimal hydration. This will help keep your head can stay clear and help you enjoy your day while curtailing those next-day hangovers!
There is nothing as memorable as spending steamy summer days making long-lasting memories with friends and family.
From Memorial Day picnics to Fourth of July celebrations to Labor Day farewell-to-summer parties, keeping yourself safe from the effects of dehydration is paramount. It allows you to enjoy those lazy days relaxing in the backyard with your family, or partaking of a fun-filled weekend full of exciting watersports with a group of friends.
So slow down, listen to your body, learn your limits, and always err on the side of caution. Go big when it comes to water or juice in ratio to liquor, or you will be going home or even to the hospital (possibly with a horrendous sunburn from falling asleep in the sand, but that’s a story for another time.)
Summer is nearly here, so take the information in this guide to heart and stay safe, my friends!