Cocktail & Other Recipes Occasion Summer

11 Cocktails to Make for Memorial Day

The best flavors of summer are all right here.

Watermelon Mojito
Watermelon Mojito Image: / Tim Nusog

Toast to the summer with a few new cocktails. Whether you’re celebrating the start of the season at the beach or in your backyard, these are the perfect light, refreshing and often fruity recipes to bring summer’s best flavors into your glass. 

1. Latitude 29 Mai Tai

Latitude 29 Mai Tai / Tim Nusog

Tiki historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the owner of New Orleans’ Latitude 29, is to thank for this take on the Tiki classic that adds grassy, funky rhum agricole into the usual mix of rum, orange curaçao, lime juice and orgeat. 

2. Lounge Chair Afternoon

Lounge Chair Afternoon / Tim Nusog

As its name implies, this sipper is ideal for drinking outdoors in the sunshine. Pink port anchors the drink, joining añejo tequila and grapefruit and lemon juices. Add a splash of tarragon simple syrup for a light herbal hint, and you’ll be set for a full afternoon of lounging.

3. Fresh Berry Delicious

Fresh Berry Delicious cocktail / Tim Nusog

Nothing screams “summer” quite like fresh strawberries, and this quaffable concoction from bar pro Charlotte Voisey is a lovely ode to the season. The berries are muddled with honey syrup, then shaken with raspberry vodka, Licor 43, blood orange liqueur and lemon juice to create an elegant cocktail. 

4. El Guapo

El Guapo cocktail
Virginia Miller

This cocktail certainly is handsome, and it’s guaranteed to impress your guests not only with its stunning hue but its delicious flavors, too. A blend of passion fruit, blood orange and pomegranate purees packs a fruity punch that’s enhanced with blanco tequila and fresh lime. The finishing touch is an inverted lime half filled with mezcal for an extra hit of booze that can be taken as a shot or stirred in upon serving.

5. Pandan-Coconut Kaki-tail

Pandan-Coconut Kaki-tail

Karrie Leung

Forget about ice cream. This is the frozen dessert you’ll want to treat yourself to this Memorial Day. The Japanese shaved-ice dessert called kakigori serves as the inspiration for this cooling concoction. Pandan syrup is a uniquely tropical addition that’s accented by a bit of sweetened coconut milk syrup. Add booze in the form of herbaceous dry gin and lychee liqueur, serve over mounds of crushed ice, and enjoy the sweet, frosty flavors.

6. High Tide

High Tide cocktail / Tim Nusog 

Amanda Carto, the bar manager at Nickel City in Austin, Texas, puts Cointreau front and center in this summer-inspired drink. In this recipe, the orange liqueur joins Japanese whiskey, lemon juice and a green tea syrup in a Collins-style cocktail topped with a splash of tonic water.

7. Salty Dog

Salty Dog cocktail / Tim Nusog

What do you get when you modify a Greyhound with a little salt? Precisely this cocktail. This two-ingredient drink is simple, so it’s important to choose quality ingredients, since their flavors will definitely shine through. A good gin or vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice are all you need, plus a salt-rimmed glass to give the drink its signature savory spin. 

8. Peach Beer Julep

Peach Beer Julep

Shannon Sturgis

You don’t have to leave your Juleps with the Kentucky Derby. This juicy take on the classic from Lynette Marrero, the co-founder of Speed Rack and beverage director of Llama Group, will bring the cocktail all the way through the summer. IPA syrup’s hoppy flavor is a perfect foil for peach slices, while bourbon rounds it out. Of course, you’ll want to serve this in a Julep cup mounded with lots of crushed ice.

9. Cucumber Gimlet

Cucumber Gimlet / Tim Nusog

Drinks don’t get much more refreshing than this vegetal spin on the classic Gimlet. Muddled lime wheels are joined by gin, lime juice and simple syrup before being shaken into a light and fresh sipper just perfect for being enjoyed on the veranda.

10. Green Isaac’s Special

Green Isaac's Special cocktail / Tim Nusog

Created by Ernest Hemingway, a writer known as much for his prodigious drinking as for his novels, this drink first appeared in “Islands in the Stream.” The combination of gin, lime juice, coconut water and Angostura bitters creates a drink that seems custom-tailored for summer afternoons. 

11. Watermelon Mojito

Watermelon Mojito / Tim Nusog

This extra-fruity spin on a Mojito takes watermelon chunks and muddles them with mint, lime juice and agave nectar, which then gets shaken with light rum. The resulting drink is as refreshing on a summer day as anything can be.