From World Gin Day earlier this month and National Scotch Day in July to three-day weekends and warm nights at a favorite vacation spot, summer offers many opportunities (or excuses) to enjoy an array of cool, refreshing cocktails.

Pretty much any spirit will do, experts say, as summer offers an opportunity to substitute a favorite spirit with something a little less familiar to the palate.

Forbes suggests Cognac in a recent article. First off, ditch the snifter, professional tasters said in the piece.

“The wide body shape of a snifter emphasizes alcohol on the nose, instead of the delicate fruity-floral aromas of the cognac,” Jeanne O’Brien Coffey wrote for Forbes.

What glass should one use? A tulip-shaped glass to aid in retaining aromas revealed during tasting.

An older cognac — V.S. or V.S.O.P — works great as a substitute for gin in a standard Gin & Tonic, Coffey reported.

“Its smooth fruitiness plays nicely with the bitter tonic, yielding an elegant summer sipper,” she wrote.

Another option is the Saint Emilion Fizz devised by Adam Robinson at Deadshot in Portland, Ore.

Here’s the recipe: 2 oz. Cognac VS; 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice; 1/2 oz. lime juice; 1/2 oz. hibiscus grenadine; 1/2 oz. Aperol; 2 dashes Angostura bitters; 1 1/2 oz. soda water. Combine ingredients except soda water in a shaker, add ice and shake until chilled. Add the soda to the shaker and double strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Garnish with mint and a lime wheel.

Some distillers also release summer-themed versions of their spirits.

Anyone who’s ever wondered what summer on the French Riviera “tastes” like, Grey Goose has launched a third installment of its Riviera series: Grey Goose x Maison Labiche, which is designed to capture the spirit of the season.

Similarly, Holland, Mich.-based New Holland Spirits has produced Lake Life vodka, which is inspired by the Great Lakes.

For Independence Day, the public relations firm for William Grant & Sons suggests El Color Rojo, which can also be made into a punch for a larger gathering.

Here’s the recipe: 2 parts Milagro Reposado; 1 part fresh lime juice; 3/4 part blackberry syrup; 1 part hibiscus tea; 1 part ginger beer; blackberries; raspberries. Build all ingredients except ginger beer in a punch bowl over a block of ice. Top with ginger beer right before stirring intermittently. Garnish with blackberries and raspberries.

And, finally, Wine Enthusiast magazine asked its editors what summer tasted like and a group of them responded with Gin & Tonic.

“Gin, gin, gin and specifically G&Ts: tennis whites during the day, summer porch sipping as the sun goes down, tall glasses of ice and lime wedges,” Spirits Editor Kara Newman said in the piece.

Senior Editor Layla Schlack, however, came off a little more hard core.

“I’m so devoted to gin and tonics that, as of press time, I’m working with an artist to design a juniper-branch tattoo,” she said. “Currently, I’m into Koval gin for its clean, woodsy quality that cools me right off.”

— KEITH ARNOLD, Ohio Tavern News