Hungry for a summer SoCal cocktail? We’ve got 5 recipes (plus 2 mixers) from a local bartender

It summer. The sun has risen and it’s time to relax with friends, have a drink in hand, and enjoy the great weather. You can have intricate cocktail recipes – or you can keep it simple and switch to time-tested crowd satisfaction.

Which is what we do. Our current affairs program AirTalk – which you can listen to on 89.3 KPCC – spoke to local mixologist and bartender Lucas Assis for some of his recommendations.

Assis is best known for his TikTok account, where he regularly shares his knowledge of craft spirits and cocktails. He is also an advocate for the sustainable cultivation of plants such as blue agave, the plant used to make tequila, and its cousin the Maguey plant used to make mezcal, both of which are now rapidly grown on a large scale.

Here’s what I suggest:

Moscow mule

(Photo by Wayne Dharma



This drink and its iconic copper mug may just be the crown jewel of the Los Angeles cocktail scene. Created with one part collaboration and one part work of desperation, it appears to have begun in the 1940s when a vodka distributor spoke to the owner of the Cock ‘n Bull Bar in Hollywood, which was selling ginger ale. The debate turned to the Moscow Mule, which has since become a staple in bars across the city and beyond.


2 ounces vodka
1 ounce lemon juice
ginger beer
lemon slices

Mix lemon juice and vodka
Top with ginger beer
Garnished with lemon slices

*Note: Assis also recommends Oaxacan Mule (replace vodka with mezcal) and Jalisco Mule (replace vodka with tequila blanco/silver).


Paloma is a drink that Assis considers one of the most exciting in Mexican drinking culture, because its simplicity has allowed people to make their own personal differences. he did A series of Tik Toks On the various Palomas located throughout Mexico. This recipe follows a variant chosen by Assis of Baja California.


2 ounces tequila or mezcal
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
Mexican squirt or your choice of grapefruit soda

Rub the lime around the rim of the cup and use the salt. Add lemon juice and tequila
Add grapefruit soda or spray

ranch water

A popular drink in West Texas and an example of the lasting influence of the widespread Tex-Mex culture. While its origins are unclear, it is a drink that rancheros enjoy in the Lone Star State and many others around the country. It requires very little bar equipment and can be made into a mineral water bottle, great for kicking back and relaxing with friends.


Topo Chico * or your choice of Mexican mineral water
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce of cucumber syrup (optional)

Mix tobo chico, tequila, and lemon juice
Add and mix in the cucumber syrup (optional, see recipe below)

*Note: We are currently going through a The shortage of Tobu ChicoAccording to a spokeswoman for the parent company, Coca-Cola. So while you’re on the go on your cocktail mixing journey, Assis recommends that you keep these other Mexican mineral waters in your back pocket to use if needed: Mineragua And the Agua de Piedrafound in most local grocery stores and Mexican markets.



(Photo by Brianna Tucker



While the origins of the margarita aren’t Los Angeles-specific, that doesn’t mean the love for the sweet concoction topped with citrus-lemon doesn’t go deep into these parts. The margarita has its roots in the 1930s in Baja California, and is enjoyed either blended or on the rocks. Similar to many of the other drinks on this list, there are ways you can add spices to it, but here’s a simple recipe that you can build upon.


1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce Cointreau
2 ounces tequila blanco
lemon wedge (for garnish)
1 ounce of cucumber syrup (optional, see recipe below)

Rub lime around the rim of the cup and put salt on the rim
Combine lemon juice, Cointreau, and tequila and add to cup
Add cucumber syrup (optional)
Garnished with a slice of green lemon

Kentucky Babylon Bath

For those who love lavender, this drink is for you. According to Aces, the drink was created by Matthew Biancanellowith whom he trained at the now-defunct Plan Check Kitchen & Bar on Fairfax Ave.


2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce of lavender water (see recipe below)
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce cynar (artichoke liqueur)
Simple syrup or agave syrup

Mix bourbon, lavender water, lemon juice, and cynar
Strain using a fine mesh strainer or cocktail strainer

Parting Tips:

For those who do not drink alcohol:

Assis says there are some great options to consider without alcohol

He said, “For example, when you’re making fresh juice cocktails, you can always substitute mineral water for tequila. For something much closer to the taste of tequila, you’ll want to use a non-alcoholic spirit like Ritual.”

For those interested in making a seasonal fruit drink:

We’ve mentioned cucumber and lavender, but there are plenty of options for drink ideas using fruits and vegetables from your local farmers market.

Simple Cucumber Syrup


1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cucumber

Add ingredients to a small saucepan
On a medium heat, put on a low heat and stir with the sugar to dissolve
Add it to the blender with the cucumber
Mix for 1 minute
Strain the mixture twice

lavender water

Try Assis’s version of the Kentucky Bubble Bath with this tea style take, to infuse the taste of lavender into your cocktail.


1 cup water
2-3 tablespoons of lavender flowers
Add water to a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil
Remove from heat, add lavender to water and cover for 2-3 minutes
strain the mixture

What questions do you have about Southern California?

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