Nothing is more refreshing on a blazing hot summer day than an icy cold vodka cocktail. Thirst-quenching libations can include any flavor from sweet to savory, fruity to dry. Here two San Francisco experts share their favorite summertime vodka cocktail combinations. Mix up one of these refreshing treats, put up your feet and enjoy a respite from the summer heat.

Eric Passetti
Bar Manager  
House of Shields
39 New Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94105

With 15 years of experience tending bar in San Francisco and both a grandfather and a great-grandfather whom owned bars, Eric Passetti knows a thing or two about crafting a variety of delicious summertime vodka cocktails. Passetti is currently the bar manager at San Francisco’s House of Shields, Café Terminus, Trocadero Club and the soon-to-be-opened Natoma Club. He finds vodka a particularly versatile drink mixer, as it is produced in numerous regions internationally. Here are four of his favorite vodka cocktails for San Francisco summers. 

The Great Beauty

  • 1.5 oz Italian Vodka
  • 1.5 oz Gran Classico
  • 3/4 oz Carpano Antico Vermouth


Mix ingredients together, stir and serve in a Coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Salty Dog

  • 1.5 oz Texan Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Elderflower Liquor
  • Ruby Red grapefruit juice


Salt the rim of a chimney glass. Pour vodka and Elderflower Liquor into glass over ice. Fill glass to rim with grapefruit juice.

Passetti’s upgraded version of the Salty Dog is a spin on the traditional unsalted Greyhound mix of gin or vodka and grapefruit juice. This summer-slanted Salty Dog makes use of floral elderflower liquor and bright pink juice instead of the traditional pale juice squeezed from yellow grapefruit. 


  • 3/4 oz French Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Cognac
  • 3/4 oz Genepi
  • 3/4 oz Dry French Vermouth


Stir over a large ice cube. Pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peel. 

Lake George

  • 1.5 oz Alameda Vodka
  • 3/4 oz yellow chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz Benedictine
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice


Shake ingredients together and strain into a Coupe glass. 

Related:  Fruity Cocktails To Beat The Summer Heat

Suzanne Ray
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 397-8880

Suzanne Ray tends bar at San Francisco Peruvian restaurant La Mar. She has been bartending in the city for more than five years and has a particular passion for flavor-infused vodkas in summertime cocktails. Here is a list of four delectable drinks, two of which include home-infused vodka. 

The Farmers’ Market

  • 1.5 oz celery-infused vodka
  • 6 leaves mint
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup


To infuse vodka, pack celery into a clean container and pour over 1 liter of vodka. Cap tightly and steep for three days. Remove celery. 

Shake ingredients with ice. Double strain into a martini glass and garnish with a sprig of mint. 

The Nopales

  • 1/2 oz prickly pear juice or puree
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 2 dashes celery bitters (do not use Angostura bitters)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup


Shake and pour on the rocks into a rocks glass.

Pandan Leaf Infused Vodka

  • Pandan leaves (can be found in many Asian markets)
  • 1 liter vodka


Pack pandan leaves into a non-reactive container, and pour vodka over to fill. Cap tightly and allow to steep for three days. Experiment with amount of pandan leaves and steep time for desired flavor potentcy. Pour over ice into a short tumbler. 

Ray recommends enjoying this infused vodka straight on the rocks. Pandan leaves, traditionally used to wrap and steam foods, has a lovely floral vanilla fragrance and infuses beautifully into vodka for a refreshing libation.

The Vesper

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Lillet


Shake ingredients and pour into a chilled martini glass. 

Ray suggests The Vesper for imbibers looking for a non-fruity summery vodka cocktail. As one of James Bond’s favorite drinks after the martini, The Vesper is sure to quench the thirst of any summer cocktail connoisseur. 

Related: Ask A San Francisco Expert Fourth Of July Cocktail Recipes

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on