A lot of sentiments are wrapped up in Memorial Day. First and foremost, the day is an occasion for everyone to stop and honor those who have given their lives in service to their country. It also marks the unofficial beginning of summer as the long weekend unfolds and many take advantage of unwinding with friends, escaping to the beach, and otherwise basking in the sunlight. With the sun high in the sky, no matter how you are celebrating or where, you’ll need a refreshing drink to combat the heat and quench your thirst this weekend. From patriotic themed to perfectly summery, here are eight recipes for your Memorial Day celebrations.
1. Tom Collins
Since this date is the unofficial kickoff to the summer season, you’ll want to start off on the right foot with a quintessential summer drink — the Tom Collins. Esquire explains that the Tom Collins first made an appearance in the late 1800s. Skip the drink mix and go for the more traditional route mixing your gin with sugar, lemon juice, and club soda.
- 2 ounces London dry gin
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- Club soda
Directions: Combine the ingredients in a Collins glass ¾ full of cracked ice. Stir briefly, top with club soda or seltzer, garnish with lemon circle; serve.
2. Berry Lemonade
Bring out the patriotic colors in this non-alcoholic lemonade from Good Housekeeping. The recipe makes a punch that will serve 12, so this is great to have on hand for parties throughout the summer.
- 8 cups cold water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups (from 15 to 16 medium lemons) fresh lemon juice
- 3 strips (3 inches by 1 inch each) lemon peel
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- Ice cubes
- Seltzer or club soda
Directions: Start by making the simple syrup. In 4-quart saucepan, heat 4 cups water with sugar and lemon peel to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover saucepan and boil 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
Meanwhile, in food processor, pulse berries until puréed. Pour into medium-mesh sieve set over large bowl and press berry mixture with back of spoon to remove seeds; discard seeds.
Remove peel from syrup; stir syrup into berry puree with lemon juice and remaining 4 cups water. Makes 13 cups. Pour into large pitcher with tight fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. Serve over ice. Add seltzer to taste; garnish with berries and lemon slices.
3. Cucumber Margarita
You’ll be cool as a cucumber come Memorial Day when you are sipping on Cosmopolitans’s cucumber margarita. You can make the simple syrup as noted in the previous recipe, or follow these instructions from The Kitchn. Simple syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.
- ¾ cup 100% Agave Tequila
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 6 ounces lime juice
- 2 ounces Triple Sec
- 2 ounces simple syrup
- Garnish: cucumber slices and lime wedge
Directions: Make the simple syrup by combining sugar and water over heat, such as in the previous recipe, let cool. In a pint glass, muddle half of the sliced cucumbers with the tequila. Let it sit in the refrigerator for one hour. Strain the cucumber tequila and combine it with all ingredients in a pitcher. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with cucumber slices and a lime wedge.
Limeade is a fabulous option for when you want a break from the usual lemonades of summer and from alcohol. In this version from Simply Recipes, an extra dose of cool is provided from fresh mint.
- Grated zest of one lime (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 cup lime juice (from about 4 to 6 limes)
- ¾ cup to 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups water
- Several sprigs of fresh mint
Directions: In a small saucepan bring to a boil the sugar, one cup of water, and the lime zest. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool for for a few minutes. The amount of sugar is a guideline, it depends on how sweet you like your limeade and how tart your particular limes are.
Place a strainer over a bowl or wide-mouthed serving container, and pour the sugar syrup through it, straining out the lime zest. Add the lime juice and 2 cups of water. Taste for sour/sweet balance. If too sweet, add a little more lime juice. Add several sprigs of fresh mint. Chill or serve immediately over ice.
5. Dark and Stormy
Hopefully you’ll only be drinking in the bad weather and not living it. The drink has Bermudian roots, but don’t let the non-patriotic origin keep you from sipping it on Memorial Day weekend. A Dark and Stormy is perfect for warm weather drinking, and Chow’s recipe will have you making batch after batch for friends and family.
- 2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum
- 6 ounces ginger beer
- 1 lime wedge
Directions: Place several ice cubes in a tall glass and add the rum. Top with the ginger beer, add the lime wedge, and stir.
6. Strawberry Iced Tea
Give your iced tea a patriotic hue by making Taste of Home’s strawberry iced tea, which makes about 5 cups. Adjust the drink’s sweetness to your taste by gradually adding sugar if you are unsure just how sweet it should be.
- 1 pint fresh strawberries
- 4 cups brewed tea, chilled
- ⅓ to ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Ice cubes
Directions: Set aside five strawberries. Place the remaining strawberries in blender; cover and puree. Strain into pitcher. Stir in the tea, sugar, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Chill. Serve in chilled glasses over ice. Garnish with reserved berries.
7. Red, White, and Blue Sangria
Keeping on point with the color of your drinks is this sangria from Recipe Girl. Again, it calls for simple syrup, which you can prepare ahead of time. Originally made for the Fourth of July, it added a little extra patriotic panache by using a star-shaped cutter to make starry pineapple chunks.
- 2 bottles dry white wine
- 1 cup triple sec
- ½ cup berry-flavored vodka
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup simple syrup
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1½ cups hulled and sliced strawberries
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1½ cups pineapple chunks
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink, or serve over ice.
8. Red, White, and Blue Shot
Shots aren’t for everyone, but if you are so inclined you can tip one back, and keep your Memorial Day theme going with this layered shot from The FNDC. If you do opt for the blackberry or strawberry garnish, you’ll also have a chaser on hand.
- 1 part grenadine
- 1 part peach schnapps
- 1 part blue curacao
- Blackberry, strawberry (optional)
Directions: In a shot glass, fill the bottom third with grenadine. Next, pour peach schnapps over the back of a bar spoon to build the second layer. Layer the blue curacao in the same fashion to complete your Red White and Blue Shooter. Serve with a strawberry and blackberry as garnish if desired.