Cocktail & Other Recipes Occasion Summer

22 Labor Day Cocktails for the Last Long Summer Weekend

Savor the season with these drinks.

High King Highball
High King Highball Image: / Tim Nusog

Summer might technically end on September 22, but for many of us, Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of the season and the last excuse to take the fun outside. Whether or not you’re hosting an outdoor bash, make the most of the weekend with cocktails that call for peak-season produce like blackberries and tomatoes, plus plenty of big-batch drinks and refreshing summer sippers.

  • Bramble

    Bramble cocktail / Tim Nusog

    First mixed up by bartender Dick Bradsell in 1984, this modern classic combines gin, the blackberry liqueur creme de mure, lemon juice, and simple syrup. It might not get as much attention as another Bradsell creation, the Espresso Martini, but it’s equally delicious.

    Get the recipe.

  • Averna Limonata

    Averna Limonata cocktail / Tim Nusog

    The end of the season might feel bittersweet, much like this combination of the Italian amaro Averna and lemon soda. There’s nothing bittersweet about its simple construction: Just throw the two ingredients in a glass over ice, give them a gentle stir, and garnish with a lemon wheel and sage leaf for Italian sprezzatura.

    Get the recipe.

  • Figgy Smalls

    Figgy Smalls cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Infuse cognac with peak-season Black Mission figs for this rich Sidecar riff, which also includes Grand Marnier, lemon and orange juices, and simple syrup. The rim is dipped in vanilla sugar for an extra-luxurious touch.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rosé Sangria

    Rose Sangria / Tim Nusog

    Summer is unofficially rosé season, and you should toast to its unofficial end with this bubbly mix of rosé wine, pamplemousse liqueur, raspberries, strawberries, lemon, and club soda. Pre-batch it for a gathering: The recipe yields four to six servings and can easily be multiplied even further.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Whiskey Smash

    Whiskey Smash / Tim Nusog 

    This refreshing and easygoing whiskey drink calls for bourbon, muddled mint leaves and lemon wedges, and simple syrup. It first appeared in print in Jerry Thomas’s 1887 Bar-Tender’s Guide, but legendary bartender Dale DeGroff helped popularize the classic in the late 1980s and ’90s at The Rainbow Room in New York City.

    Get the recipe.

  • Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Strawberry Basil Lemonade / Tim Nusog

    You might not have to go back to school, but you can still sip on childhood nostalgia with this gin-spiked lemonade. Muddled basil leaves, strawberries, and club soda make it extra-refreshing.

    Get the recipe.

  • Paloma

    Paloma cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Since it debuted in the 1950s, this fizzy and no-fuss cocktail has been a favorite in Mexico and beyond for its deliciousness and simple construction: Just combine tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda right in the glass.

    Get the recipe.

  • Tomato Spritz

    Tomato Spritz / Tim Nusog

    Mix up this drink from Katana Kitten managing partner and “director of deliciousness” Masahiro Urushido while tomatoes are still at their peak ripeness: He combines tomato water and a homemade cherry tomato shrub with gin, extra-dry vermouth, club soda, and prosecco.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Fall & Summer

    Fall and Summer cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Like the perfect jacket, this drink will help you transition into the new season. It’s both refreshing and warming, thanks to a combination of añejo tequila, fig preserves, orange juice, rosemary leaves, and ginger syrup.

    Get the recipe.

  • Blackberry Wine Slushie

    Blackberry Wine Slushie / Tim Nusog

    Frosé has become a summer staple, but this adults-only treat is arguably even tastier, not to mention a great use for your end-of-summer berry haul. Just combine blackberries with vodka, red wine, orange juice, agave nectar, and ice in the blender and give it all a whirl. 

    Get the recipe.

  • Negroni Sbagliato

    Negroni Sbagliato / Tim Nusog

    Lighten up the Negroni format for a party with this crowd-friendly punch from bar pro Jacques Bezuidenhout. He swaps prosecco for gin in the classic combination of the spirit, Campari, and sweet vermouth, rendering a drink that’s both festive and low-ABV.

    Get the recipe.

  • Demi Peche

    Demi Peche / Tim Nusog

    Combine a homemade peach syrup and wheat beer or lager for this simple French beer cocktail, which is similar to a Shandy or a Radler. The recipe calls for just one ounce of the concentrated syrup, meaning you’ll have plenty left over for other drinks…or for spooning over ice cream.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Tom Collins

    Tom Collins cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This quaffable classic calls for London Dry gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. It was likely invented by an enterprising barkeep named John Collins in the 19th century, but patrons took to calling it Tom Collins after the Old Tom gin that was used at the time. Whichever gin you choose, this drink makes a fizzy and refreshing end-of-summer sip.

    Get the recipe.

  • Jungle Bird

    Jungle Bird cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This bittersweet tropical cocktail dates back to the 1970s, when it was served as a welcome drink to guests at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton in Malaysia. Your partygoers will indeed be happy to receive this mix of blackstrap rum, Campari, pineapple and lime juices, and demerara syrup upon entry. 

    Get the recipe.

  • White Sangria

    White Sangria / Tim Nusog

    This bright and bubbly punch calls for white wine, Lillet blanc, peaches, apples, lemons, and club soda. Opt for a dry white wine to balance the drink’s fruitiness.

    Get the recipe.

  • Summer Rye

    Summer Rye cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Name aside, this fruity and fizzy drink is delicious any time of year, thanks to a combination of rye whiskey, St-Germain liqueur, lemon and apple juices, simple syrup, and Champagne. Top it with apple cubes and toast to the apple-picking season ahead.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Sweet Tea Smash

    Sweet Tea Smash / Tim Nusog

    Two Southern staples, sweet tea and Tennessee whiskey, join forces for this bittersweet cocktail from New York City’s Please Don’t Tell bar. To make it at home, combine whiskey and unsweetened iced tea with the Italian liqueur Strega, muddled lemon wedges and mint leaves, and cane syrup.

    Get the recipe.

  • Summer Tonic

    Summer Tonic / Tim Nusog

    Like your end-of-summer wardrobe, this rum-based drink has layers. Bordiga Bitter Rosso amaro and Fever Tree aromatic tonic water lend bittersweet notes and an eye-catching hue to a mix of rum and lemon juice.

    Get the recipe.

  • Gin Buck

    Gin Buck cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Lemon or lime juice, ginger ale or ginger beer…This three-ingredient cocktail is endlessly riffable, but if you switch up the base spirit you might end up with a Moscow Mule (vodka) or a Dark ‘n Stormy (rum), which are also great options for a summer gathering.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rum Punch

    Rum Punch cocktail / Tim Nusog

    You can’t go wrong with this fruity combination of two rums, a bevy of fruit juices, and grenadine:  You can easily scale up the measurements if you’re hosting a crowd, or swap in whatever spirits or juices you have on hand.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Bulldog Smash

    Bulldog Smash cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Make the most of peach season with this fruity Whiskey Smash variation: Muddled peaches and Cointreau join the classic mix of bourbon, muddled mint leaves and lemon wedges, and simple syrup.

    Get the recipe.

  • High King Highball

    High King Highball / Tim Nusog

    At his now-shuttered New York City bar Pouring Ribbons, Joaquín Simó proved that Irish whiskey can be as refreshing as lighter spirits when paired with the right ingredients. In the case of this fruity cocktail, those include Aperol, muddled raspberries, lemon and grapefruit juices, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and club soda.

    Get the recipe.