The first cocktail I ever made was a Strawberry Daiquiri—a frozen one. I was 14 years old. That’s a true story. I developed a taste and passion for cocktails at a rather peculiar age, and that Strawberry Daiquiri recipe, lifted straight from a rather rudimentary home entertaining guide, seemed a pretty easy undertaking for a novice, ahem, bartender.
I used a bottled lime juice that went by the ironic name Real Lime Juice, some powdered sugar, a handful of chopped strawberries—those, at least, were fresh—and Bacardí rum. This frozen slushie was a revelation. The rest is history. Nowadays, if someone puts a frozen Strawberry Daiquiri in front of me, I’ll crack a wry smile, remembering fondly where my journey began. The Daiquiri is a great place to begin playing with strawberries, and the iconic Cuban cocktail makes a solid case for blended drinks. That said, there are also killer Strawberry Daiquiris and similar variations being shaken by some of the best bartenders. One example: While at Roof at Park South in Manhattan, Will Thompson added strawberry demerara syrup and a kick of Tabasco to his Por Mi Amante.
Strawberries have many would-be complementary bedfellows when put together in a shaker (or blender). Fresh herbs are a natural match, especially mint, basil, thyme, rosemary and tarragon. A strawberry & basil Caipirinha has long been a favorite of mine, and with the addition of a few drops of balsamic vinegar, the Brazilian stalwart becomes deeply complex. Strawberry can also be thrown into almost any classic cocktail that contains citrus, such as a Collins, Sour, Margarita, Swizzle or Fizz, among others. Rhubarb also works well (think strawberry and rhubarb pie), as seen in the Rose Cobbler I created for Bacchanal. Ben Clemons, a vastly talented chap who owns Bar 308 in Nashville, has a deadly drink called El Chapo, topped with grapefruit beer.
While there are several very good frozen purees on the market now, there's nothing better than juicing or blending fresh strawberries. The yield is not very generous, but it lets the berries' flavor and sweetness shine through. You can also turn strawberries into a syrup and make this amazing, easy Strawberry Pisco Sour.
These are 11 ways to incorporate these delicious berries into your drinks.
Properly made with fresh fruit rather than a store-bought mix, this cocktail is delightful on a hot summer day or any time at all. Simply take the typical Daiquiri combination of rum, lime juice and simple syrup, and add a handful of strawberries and cup of ice and give it all a spin in the blender.
Strawberry-infused rum and a strawberry demerara syrup lend a gentle berry nuance to this cocktail from bartender Will Thompson, joining freshly squeezed lemon juice and a couple dashes of Tabasco to render a spicy-sweet drink.
Young's low-ABV cobbler allows early summer's best fruit flavors to shine. He adds rhubarb shrub and strawberry puree to Aperol and rosato vermouth, with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a few dashes of rhubarb bitters, shaking it all together before liberally garnishing with fresh fruit, powdered sugar and a mint sprig.
This three-ingredient cocktail from Nashville bartender Ben Clemons packs a lot of flavor into one glass. It combines gin and strawberry-infused Aperol, which then get topped with grapefruit beer, creating a super-fruity refresher.
Young makes a strawberry-rose syrup for this fruity and floral twist on the traditional Pisco Sour that calls for throwing all ingredients—pisco, lime juice, the syrup and an egg white—into a blender with ice, producing enough drinks to satisfy a small gathering.
Naofumi Yokoyama of Bar Entrust in Tokyo created this cocktail to highlight the berry's flavors with both fresh strawberries and strawberry liqueur. Add the spirit of your preference to the mix, along with cranberry and lime juices, and garnish with an additional strawberry slice.
Young again combines strawberry and rhubarb in this Collins-style cocktail. Gin or vodka join Aperol, strawberry and lemon juices, and rhubarb syrup before getting topped with club soda. Throw in a pickled rhubarb stalk and a lemon wheel as festive garnishes.
Bartender Brian Elder, inspired by a drink he had at New York City bar Attaboy, created this drink that combines gin, Pineau des Charentes, Salers aperitif, lemon juice and strawberry cordial into a light, easy sipper.
Bar pro H. Joseph Ehrmann muddles strawberries and mint leaves with agave nectar before adding lemon juice and ruby-chai-infused vodka to create this bright and fruity drink.
The classic Margarita combination of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and agave nectar gets thrown into the blender with a handful of fresh strawberries to produce this fun poolside favorite.
The name of this cocktail really says it all. Created by bartending vet Charlotte Voisey, it calls for muddling fresh strawberries with honey syrup, then adding raspberry-flavored vodka, Licor 43, blood orange liqueur and lemon juice for a carnival of fruit flavors.