4 Classic Summer Cocktails & how to photograph them


Summer is here, and we’re all looking for cool refreshment in any way we can. Cocktails are popular all year round, but there are some that just seem to go hand in hand with sunny days and long, hot nights. Here are four of the best cocktails to make this summer...

  • Mojito – Take 50ml of white rum, a dash of soda water, a couple of lime wedges, a sprig of mint, and 2tsp of caster sugar. Muddle the sugar and lime together in a glass; add mint leaves and follow with ice, rum, and soda then stir to infuse the flavours, and top with a sprig of mint.
  • Long Island Iced Tea – Add a splash of the following into a shaker: spiced rum, vodka, gin, tequila, orange liqueur, sugar syrup, lemon juice, and lime juice. Give it a shake, pour into a tall glass, top up with cola, and finish with a lemon wedge.
  • Margarita – Take two parts tequila, one part cointreau, and one part lime juice. Rub the rim of the glass with lime and dip into salt, shake the other ingredients with ice, pour into the salt-rimmed glass, and enjoy.
  • Pimm’s and Lemonade – Fill a tall glass with ice then add 50ml Pimm’s, 100ml lemonade, one slice each of orange, cucumber, and strawberry, and a sprig of mint.

How to photograph cocktails

Here at Stephen Conroy Photography we’ve got a lot of experience photographing a variety of drinks, including cocktails. Our clients turn to us to help make their drinks look as good as they taste, but it’s no mean feat.

Here are a few of the issues that we have to overcome when it comes to photographing cocktails:

  • Lighting: Cocktails look great when shot on location at a bar, but many bars have minimal natural light.
  • Reflection: Cocktails are typically served in glassware, which means glares, reflections, and hotspots can interfere with the perfect shot.
  • Shelf life: Cocktails are often served over ice, which has a limited shelf life before it melts and the drink has to be remade.

As with most kinds of photography, one of the key aspects of drink photography is preparation. This is how the photo shoot will typically go...

Natural lighting

Food and drinks look their best in natural light. Whether that means using the daylight available or creating that feel with lighting. Our photography studio is set up for either. If we’re shooting on location with the client then the first thing to do is identify the best source of natural light. A well-lit window with indirect sunlight provides white light that’s perfect for photographing cocktails.

Set the scene

Next we’ll set up any props and equipment that we’re using; then we’ll grab an empty glass, the same kind that will later play host to the cocktail, and photograph it to test for reflections. We’ll then adjust the height, angle, and camera settings until there is no glare.

Make a garnish

Garnishes add texture and visual appeal to a cocktail, and many cocktails are actually served with a particular garnish when ordered in a bar. Ensure that the garnish is made first so it can be added immediately when the drink is ready.

Make the cocktail

We want to capture the cocktail in its most authentic form, so we always ask our clients to make it as if they were serving it to a customer. The empty glass should already be in the setup area, so the cocktail should be poured straight into it. The garnish is ready, and the scene is set, so all that’s left to do is add that finishing touch and snap away!


Stephen Conroy
Food Photographer & Director