Kaley Cuoco tells PEOPLE about her new Smirnoff cocktail recipe perfect for the summertime, plus the toughest part of filming The Flight Attendant

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Kaley Cuoco The Flight Attendant
Kaley Cuoco in The Flight Attendant
| Credit: Photograph by Phil Caruso

Kaley Cuoco needed plenty of potty breaks while filming The Flight Attendant.

In the HBO Max series, the actress, 35, stars as Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant who gets entangled with a passenger and wakes up in a hotel room one morning to find him dead, launching her into a globe-trotting thriller.

Playing Cassie meant Cuoco had to simulate lots of drinking on set (the character has a complicated relationship with alcohol), so she became accustomed to frequent bathroom breaks between takes.

"It was all water which was great because I definitely got my water intake every day, but I had to pee every second! That was the other problem that came with it," Cuoco recalls while telling PEOPLE about her new partnership with Smirnoff. "We had to take so many five-minute breaks 'because Kaley has to pee again.' It was a lot of water, yeah."

Cassie is "basically drinking all day long," says Cuoco, who wanted to be "careful" in her portrayal since a boozy character "can easily go very tacky and unfunny very quickly."

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Acting out Cassie's "scary" drinking habits didn't rub off on Cuoco, however. She says she's a "good compartmentalizer" who doesn't "bring anything home with me" from the characters she plays: "I'm really able to dip in and out of that manic hysteria and the work, then come back home and shut it off. ... I have to kind of separate. It's my only way. That's my process."

Kaley Cuoco x Smirnoff partnership
Credit: Smirnoff

Off-screen, Cuoco is beyond ready to resume socializing post-pandemic and once again spend quality time with her close friends.

"Now that things are settling down a bit, I am excited to see my girlfriends again under normal circumstances. I laugh, I'm like, I'm not turning down a dinner date ever again. I'm not saying, 'Oh, I'm too tired,' I'm not saying, 'Maybe I'll meet up with them next week.' No — I am now into my yes time. I am saying yes to everyone."

Wherever the summer takes her, she'll have her very own Smirnoff cocktail to take with her ("The Cuocotail," as she calls it). What's in the drink?

"I stick with the classics. I am all about Smirnoff No. 21, that's my constant go-to," she says. "For the summer, it's so hot, so we add a little jalapeño and ginger–infused vermouth and a cucumber slice. Then my favorite part that I've added is the Tajín on the rim because I like spicy and cold, cold, cold. It's absolutely fantastic, especially right now when it's been sweltering outside."