Cool off with some of Tahoe’s top cocktails.

By Natasha Bourlin

Summer’s hot sun often ushers a desire for ice-cold cocktails. Mercifully, there’s no shortage of exceptional summertime libations around Lake Tahoe. Sip your way around the lake with these creative drinkable concoctions.

Rum Runner
The Beacon Rum Runner

A boozy beacon

It’s nearly legendary at this point. The Beacon at Camp Richardson in South Lake is well-known for epic views, summer fun … and their notoriously delicious and potent blended tropical concoction, the rum runner. They even have a cruise named after it which departs from the resort’s marina three times daily each summer, bound for Emerald Bay and boasting a seemingly endless supply of the beverage. Made from a blend of passion fruit, pineapple and orange juices and, well, plenty of rum, you can enjoy more of them at an $8 price point on their Wild Wednesdays or during happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday – Friday. You can even take home a bottle of the tasty mix, just add booze. camprichardson.com

Wily woodies

Similar in notoriety, yet across the lake, is another fruity beverage ideal for summertime. A restaurant named for the classic wooden boats still spotted like an endangered species on Tahoe, Gar Woods owner Tom Turner brought his cheeky sense of humor to their signature cocktail, the wet woody. It’s made from a blend of 151 rum, light rum, cranberry, pineapple and orange juices, peach schnapps and sweet and sour, then mixed together and frozen in a smoothie machine and topped with a Bacardi Black floater. More than a dozen variations of the wet woody, some with even more playfully risque monikers, now exist, so make a day — or perhaps three — of sampling them all. garwoods.com

The Beach Retreat & Lodge
The Beach Retreat & Lodge

Tiki time

Get a taste of the tropics in South Lake at the Beach Retreat and Lodge’s Tiki Bar. Lead bartenders Sean McDaniel and Shawn Meyers (aka the Sean and Shawn show) created a concoction called the sneaky tiki, comprised of light rum, orange and pineapple juices, blackberry brandy, banana liqueur and a dark rum floater, garnished with fruit. A bartender of 30 years, McDaniel grew up on Oahu and wanted to bring some Hawaiian flavor to the Tahoe shores. Only open during summer months, the Tiki Bar truly transports you to a tropical island with its thatched roof, bamboo and beachfront cabanas. Just ignore the snow that may still mount the mountains well into the warmest season. tahoebeachretreat.com

Magical potions

Everyone loves when a cocktail magically appears before them in summertime, though usually it’s not magic, just an observant server. But at The Loft Theatre-Lounge-Dining, it just might be. Glimpses of the cerulean lake dot the walls of this intimate, literally magical space at the base of Heavenly. Bar manager and mixologist Nick Giordano explains that their cocktail program invokes the world of illusion, each drink crafted around a different element such as smoke, fire, levitation or transformation, providing customers with a befitting and visually stimulating imbibing experience. Take the smoke and mirrors, one of their most popular libations, made from 100-proof bourbon, Sapling Maple liqueur, housemade old fashioned syrup and tobacco bitters, then garnished with Luxardo cherries and candied bacon. A one-of-a-kind concoction, it’s then placed in a glass smoking box with hickory wood chips and infused with smoky goodness. It magically appears before the guest after being completely consumed by smoke in the box, a presentation worthy of its name. thelofttahoe.com

 Tahoe Serenity Cruise (Matt Morning)
Tahoe Serenity Cruise (Matt Morning)

Caribbean-inspired concoction

Before opening Round Hill Pines Beach Resort, the team felt they’d entered an alpine Caribbean with its exquisite sunsets, blue waters and pristine, sandy beach. They wanted to create a signature drink that embodied this feeling, and the popular pain killer was born. Complemented by a Caribbean-themed menu, the cocktail is a frozen blend of pineapple, coconut, orange juice and white rum, topped with Mount Gay dark rum and freshly grated nutmeg. Take the daily Happy Hour Serenity Cruise aboard the resort’s 63-foot luxury yacht and score a free pain killer, which somehow tastes even better on the water. roundhillpinesresort.com

Tahoe Serenity Cruise (Matt Morning)
Tahoe Serenity Cruise (Matt Morning)

Recovery in a glass

After a day or evening of summertime cocktail exploration, you may need to dive into yet another to help recover. Headachy and hungry? Head immediately to McP’s Taphouse Grill, where you can find a meal-worthy bloody mary to help heal you. They put an Irish spin on the renowned drink with a corned beef garnish and float of Guinness that adds richness and helps balance the spiciness. Jalapeno pickles, pickled green beans and a lime add some greenery in true Irish fashion. After one, maybe two, you may just be ready for a jig. mcpspub.com

Tahoe summers and deliciously chilled cocktails are the perfect recipe for bliss. Temperatures feel idyllic, brisk waters are warmer, days seem longer, the sun even brighter and your cheeks ache from smiling. Somehow, everything is just better lakeside.