Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces.


It is also recognized in the U.S. as the beginning of summer, most likely because it was traditionally the day the school year ended. Currently we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of May with the Memorial Day celebrations occurring on the weekend just ahead of that.

For me that means, after honoring those among my friends and family who served and sacrificed, sharing the weekend with my remaining family and friends and having a cookout with some refreshing summer cocktails. It is also my signal to start crafting cocktails made with all the lovely, fresh produce and herbs that become abundant in summertime. Over the years, I have created quite a list of original drink recipes perfect for the long, hot days of summer and I've included links to some of my favorites below, as well as some some of the best warm weather drink categories and flavors to keep you cool from Memorial Day through Labor Day.





The MIMOSA with Recipe Variations and History


The Mimosa is a modern day cocktail classic composed of equal parts Champagne and citrus juice (most typically orange juice) which enjoys widespread popularity as a brunch starter. It is widely accepted that the Mimosa was created in 1925 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris by bartender Frank Meier, although in Meier's own book, The Artistry of Mixed Drinks (p. 1936), he does not lay claim to the drink with his book's "created by" symbol. Originally the Mimosa was served over ice in a large wineglass, today's version is a straight up cocktail served up in a flute glass.

Named after the Mimosa flower (which looks a little like a cluster of Champagne bubbles), it is a variation of the Buck's Fizz, created in 1921 at the Buck's Club in London by Pat McGarry, which is made with two parts Champagne to one part orange juice.

Recognized variations include:
The Grand Mimosa, served with the addition of a bar spoon of Grand Marnier.
The Puccini uses Mandarin orange juice.
The Poinsettia which is made with cranberry juice.
The Megmosa which uses grapefruit juice and, sometimes, a splash of Cointreau.
The Soleil which uses pineapple juice.
The Bellini, substitutes peach puree for the orange juice.

You can substitute nearly any fruit juice for the orange and end up with a lovely Mimosa variation. My personal favorites include pear juice, blueberry juice, pomegranate juice, cherry juice and strawberry juice, all freshly squeezed or sent through my electric juicer and I've been know to grill and mix my juices as well.  You can also substitute other sparkling wines like Prosecco. Additionally, I often add in a few drops of complementary bitters, though technically this is a Champagne Cocktail element. Basically any fresh fruit juice topped off by Champagne or a sparkling wine can be called a Mimosa these days.

2 Oz. Fresh Orange Juice
2 Oz. Champagne 
Glass: Chilled Champagne  Flute

Add the fresh orange juice to your chilled glass and top off with chilled Champagne. Do not stir. It's that simple.

My Mimosa Variations
Berry Mimosa
Blushing Rose Champagne Cocktail
Grilled Peach Mimosa
Merry Mimosa Martini
National Mimosa Day is May 16th.




Moscato is an Italian dessert style white wine made from the muscat grape. Similar to the Spanish moscatel and the French muscat, it is sweet and fruity with hints of the honey and those qualities inspired my recipe for this cocktail recipe. Though muscat grapes are the oldest known variety and wine made from it has been popular for ages, it's gotten a recent surge in modern day popularity thanks to brand linked rappers and hip hop artists.

Since it's already hitting triple digits here in Tucson, I thought some moscato would pair nicely with the classic combination of fresh strawberries and some fresh basil from my herb garden for a refreshing summer cooler. Adding a little effervescence with some strawberry sparkling water and a bit of sweetness with some honey, I ended up with a pleasant late afternoon cocktail.


4 Oz. Moscato
4 Fresh Strawberries
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Water
Strawberry Sparkling Water
1 Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Basil Leaves

Garnish: Sprig Basil, Strawberry

Tools: Muddler

Glass: Highball

Warm the honey and water in a highball glass in a microwave just long enough to thin the honey and mix together, about 10 seconds.
Add the strawberries and basil to the glass then gently muddle. 
Fill your glass with ice then add the Moscato, stir.
Top off with the strawberry sparkling water, garnish with a fresh strawberry, a sprig of basil and serve.

National Moscato Day is May 9th.



The Iconic 80's COSMOPOLITAN Cocktail

Born in the late 1980's, the Cosmopolitan is an iconic cocktail in drink history which was inducted into mass happy hour culture by another icon, HBO's Sex and The City television series.

Recognized as an important part of cocktail history the Cosmopolitan, aka Cosmo, is sadly reviled by current cocktail folk. When mixed properly it is a delicious, soft pink (not red) drink that has been ruined by cheap ingredients, sour mixes and lazy bartending over the decades since its inception.

Classified as a sour, the Cosmopolitan is a modern descendant of The Daisy, a vintage cocktail made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and raspberry syrup.

Like most classic drinks, the Cosmopolitan's history has a murky background. During the late 70's to mid 80's versions of this modernized take on Ocean Spray's famous Harpoon cocktail, were scattered from San Francisco to New York to Miami with almost as many claims to its creation. Both Cheryl Cook and John Caine were serving Cosmos in the eighties, with Cook being the accepted originator of the name, but the currently accepted Cosmopolitan recipe is credited to Toby Cecchini who, after being introduced to a version by Melissa Huffsmith, added the Citron and first served his version at the Odeon in Manhattan in 1987. The citrus flavored vodka is the essential ingredient as that is what distinguishes this cranberry and vodka cocktail from other vodka cranberry drinks like the Cape Cod and the Ocean Spray label recipe of the Harpoon.

The Cosmopolitan. It's time to do it again,  but do it right; with Citron Vodka, fresh lime juice, Ocean Spray cranberry juice and Cointreau.


1-1/2 Oz Vodka Citron
1/2 Oz Cointreau
1 Oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 Oz Fresh Lime Juice

Garnish: Lime Wedge

Tools: Cocktail Shaker

Glass: Martini (Cocktail)

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into large, chilled cocktail glass. Garnish simply with a lime wedge.

National Cosmopolitan Day is May 7th.



The GOLD NUGGET, A Chocolate Bourbon Cocktail

When I'm out and about I am always looking for any kind of goodies for my cocktail recipes. I love hunting for unique and vintage cocktail glasses as well as interesting barware and tools, but I'm especially on the lookout for fun new garnish ideas. When I recently stumbled on some chocolate gold nuggets my mind went immediately to the California Gold Rush. A whiskey based cocktail was definitely indicated so I snatched those nuggets up like an impoverished gold miner and headed back to my bar.

Typically gold prospectors drank their whiskey neat, but I'm all about the cocktail, not just a few fingers of hooch, so that called for a few additional ingredients. There is a Gold Rush Cocktail but it's basically a whiskey sour and I wanted to feature the chocolate in the nuggets so I replaced the lemon and simple syrup with a chocolate liqueur. To play up the bitter conditions and results of most prospectors efforts, and to balance the sweetness of the liqueur, I added a bitter amaro element with some Fernet and some cocktail bitters.


2 Oz. Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 Oz. Bols White Creme de Cacao
1 Bar Spoon (tsp.) Fernet Branca
2 Dashes Coffee Bitters
1 Dash Orange Bitters

Garnish: Chocolate Golden Nugget Candy, Orange Twist

Tools: Mixing Glass, Bar Spoon

Glass: Rocks

Chill glass in freezer.
Add the ingredients to an ice filled mixing glass and stir with a bar spoon for 30 seconds.
Strain over ice into the chilled glass, garnish and serve.

Historical Gold Rush Saloons Tidbit:
One of the interesting things that's always stuck with me about the California, Klondike and Colorado gold rushes were tales of the fortunes of gold dust under the floors of the saloons near the mother lodes. In the California gold rush, prior to the opening of the San Francisco Mint, placer prospectors often paid for their dime shot of whiskey with a pinch of gold dust from their poke sack. The barkeep would reach in the sack and take a pinch between thumb and forefinger, considered roughly the equivalent of ten cents. In this transfer (and through other means) tons of gold dust apparently sifted down and through the wooden floor boards of gold mine era bars and reports are that many an enterprising bartender or saloon owner mined more gold than many prospectors. There's even a reference to this in thevClint Eastwood movie musical Paint Your Wagon.




For some reason most people, myself included (as you will see below), tend to bring carrots to use in the bar at Easter. It makes sense because carrots are a spring vegetable, but in our modern world they are available year-round, are very healthy and have a sweet earthiness that works well with many spirits. Carrots also come in a wide array of colors and pair well with a number of herbs and spices, making it a versatile and naturally beautiful colored juice for drinks. It's past time we should give the carrot a little more happy hour respect.

The most important thing to remember when making a carrot cocktail is to use fresh carrot juice, and to use that juice immediately as the flavors and nutritional value begin to break down almost immediately. After that the sky's the limit on creative carrot cocktail choices.



International Carrot Day is April 4th, Carrot Cake Day is February 3rd.





You can't have Easter happy hour without a jelly bean cocktail, right? How do you make an Easter Jelly Beanie Martini? First, steal the jelly beans from your kids' Easter baskets ...



1/2 Oz. Strawberry Vodka
1/2 Oz. Raspberry Vodka
1/2 Oz. Pineapple Rum
1 Oz. Coconut Water
Splash of Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Coconut Honey Syrup*

Garnish: Multicolored Easter Cake Sprinkles, Multicolored Jelly Beans

Tools: Cocktail Shaker, Hawthorne Strainer

Glass: Coupe

Dip the rim of your martini glass into the coconut cream and then into the Easter cake sprinkles. Chill glass in the freezer.
* Mix 1 teaspoon of Honey Ridge Honey Creme Coconut with 1 teaspoon of hot water for the coconut honey syrup.
Put 1 of each color of jelly bean onto a cocktail pick and set aside.
Add the ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled.
Strain into the chilled glass and set the jelly bean loaded cocktail pick across the glass rim to serve.
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