Ask A Sacramento Expert: Best Summertime Vodka Cocktails

July 31, 2014 5:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Summertime is in full swing and Sacramento natives are out and about enjoying everything the city has to offer. For those who enjoy having a warm weather cocktail while sitting on their front porch or lounging by the pool, continue reading. Some of the greatest things about bartenders, the real ones anyway, is how proud they are of what they do, and how creative they can be. Sacramento is fortunate to have such an abundant supply of these masters of mixology. Everyone has a type of drink they enjoy and with that, a style of drink making that goes along with it. For instance, if you like your drinks stiff and simple, you might want to visit Pine Cove, Club Raven or Pied Piper. If you like your cocktails hand crafted with freshly squeezed juices, fresh produce and looking almost too good to drink, you want Shady Lady or Red Rabbit.
In this article, readers will reap the benefits that come from getting to know a local bartender. If you’re like many people who like to play bartender at home, you can utilize these easy-to-follow recipes for summertime vodka cocktails. Vodka was a smart choice as the base for these drinks as it is arguably one of the most versatile alcohols out there. Bar patrons everywhere consume quite a bit of vodka. It makes sense if you think about it: mix it with orange juice and you have the most basic drink in history, the screwdriver. Add vodka to tomato juice with pepper, celery salt, hot sauce and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and now you have the hangover cure consumed on Sunday mornings around the world. This list goes on and on when it comes to vodka cocktails we know and love, but the bartender contacted for this article is going to teach you some new tricks.
neuhauser Ask A Sacramento Expert: Best Summertime Vodka Cocktails

Mark Neuhauser (Courtesy of Mark Neuhauser)

Mark Neuhauser
Tres Hermanas
2416 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 443-6919

Mark Neuhauser has been pleasing his guests in Sacramento for almost 15 years. Mark started his bartending career in 1999 at Mandango’s on Fulton. Mr. Neuhauser also spent time bartending at Outback Steakhouse and Red Lotus. Neuhauser is additionally a certified Cicerone which means he knows a whole lot about beer. For those who are not aware, a Cicerone is similar to a Sommelier, except for beer rather than wine. Mark put his certification to use at Pangaea Two Brews as a Beer Server. Now you can find Mark bringing drinks to life at Tres Hermanas on 24th and K street in Sacramento. As a side note, if you’ve never tried Tres Hermanas and are a fan of Mexican food, you need to get off your rump and check it out. The following drink recipes are easy to follow and absolutely delicious. Mark describes the process in detail. 

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Summertime Buck


  • 2 oz Tito’s Vodka
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio)
  • 6-8 pieces of ripe Watermelon cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Cock and Bull Ginger Beer


Muddle watermelon and add the rest of your ingredients. Give it a hard shake in a Boston shaker for 10-15 seconds. Fine strain into glass of your choice (preferably a tall glass) with fresh ice and leave about an inch and a half to top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime twist or lime wheel and a slice of watermelon if you like.

Strawberry Basil Gimlet


  • 2 oz Tito’s Vodka
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup or Agave Nectar
  • 2-4 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 2-3 Strawberries hulled and cut into halves


Take basil into the palm of your hand and clap your hand to extract the oils and aroma of the leaves (aka spanking herbs). Put the basil into the bottom of the shaker and then add muddled strawberries. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake hard for 10-15 seconds. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass (such as a “martini glass” or “coupe”). Garnish with a spanked basil leaf. This drink can also be enjoyed over a large cubed ice rock in an old fashioned bucket glass.

Blackberry Fizz


  • 2 oz Tito’s Vodka
  • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup of Agave Nectar (if your feeling crafty, infuse your syrup with lavender flowers)
  • 4-6 Fresh Blackberries
  • 1 Egg White
  • Soda Water


Add vodka, juice, syrup and egg white into Boston shaker and dry shake – vigorously shake ingredients for 15-20 seconds (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT). Then add blackberries and ice, and shake hard for another 10 seconds. Fine strain over fresh ice into a Collins or pint glass and leave room for an inch and a half or so of soda water to top it. Garnish with a lemon twist and a speared blackberry or two.

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As a hospitality professional Andy Soto has worked every facet of the industry. He currently leads the team at Spectrum Restaurant Consulting. He started writing a hospitality blog in 2009 and restaurant writing for Sacramento Press in 2010. In 2011 Andy became a Sacramento Restaurant Examiner for His work can be found on