Memorial Day Cocktails

Springtime Drinks for a Perfect Memorial Day Barbecue

  • 11 Drink
  • Updated: May 23, 2016

Memorial Day is a particularly special holiday, not only because it marks a solemn day of remembrance of those who have given their lives in the armed forces, but because it also serves as the informal transition from spring to summer. And in the cocktail world, the advent of a new season is always reason to celebrate (and update your menu).

Memorial Day cocktails are a blend of late spring and early summer flavors, and you can usually count on the weather being nice enough that you'll want a cold, refreshing drink to go with your holiday plans. As a result, most of these recipes are served on the rocks in Highball or Collins glasses, and they're not so spirit-forward that you can't sip them by the poolside, on the beach, or in your backyard.

From classics like the Cape Codder and Pimm's Cup to modern adaptations like the Garden Mule and Berry Jive, these cocktails use fresh berries, mint, fruit, and even early-season veggies to usher in the warm days of summer. As you make your plans this year, we suggest a healthy dose of Memorial Day cocktails to round out what's sure to be a well-deserved long weekend.

  • Vodka, Cranberry juice, Lime
    The Cape Codder (also known as a Cape Cod) is a simple, tart cocktail that's perfect for anything by the seaside, whether it's on a boat or sunbathing on the beach. The drink was actually invented by cranberry juice moguls Ocean Spray in 1945, and it caught on to become a popular choice at bars all over the world.
  • Pimm's No. 1, 7-Up, Cucumber, Lemon peel
    The Pimm's Cup is a British classic that's great for summer afternoons and brunches with friends. It's light on alcohol (using only Pimm's No. 1 as a base spirit, coming in at 50 proof) but fresh and delicious, and like a Bloody Mary you can add nearly any fresh fruits and vegetables you want to make it your own.
  • Gin, Lemon juice, Simple syrup, Club soda, Maraschino cherry
    The Tom Collins is a classic summer highball that's perfect for the golf course or a backyard barbecue, made from gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. The Tom Collins is served in, you guessed it, a Collins glass, which is narrower than a typical highball. A nice side effect of this glassware is that when you tilt the drink all the way back to get …
  • Bourbon, Mint, Simple Syrup, Crushed Ice
    Typically associated with the Kentucky Derby, this cocktail is a refreshing—if divisive—treat for the spring and summer. As far as the bourbon goes, we don’t recommend using anything too expensive unless you’ve got some income that desperately needs disposing, since it tends to get a little washed out by the other flavors. Be sure to find the freshest mint y…
  • Citrus vodka, strawberries, Cointreau, lime juice
    The Strawberry Cosmopolitan is a simple, fresh variation on the original Cosmopolitan recipe that uses muddled strawberries in place of cranberry juice for a bit of color and fruity sweetness. The original citrus vodka works great in this cocktail, but you can also play around with all kinds of other flavored vodkas to see what tastes best. Make sure to…
  • vodka, grapefruit juice
    The Vodka Greyhound is a simple variation on the Greyhound, made with vodka (obviously) instead of the traditional gin. It's typically served on the rocks in either a Highball glass or an Old-Fashioned glass, and almost literally couldn't be easier to make. As always, we recommend squeezing your own grapefruit juice instead of using the store-bought stuff—it…
  • Light rum, Lime juice, Strawberries, Simple syrup
    The Strawberry Daiquiri is a variety of Frozen Daiquiri, and when done right it can be a seriously delicious summertime treat. There's no need to use artificial flavorings or pre-made mix, just fresh lime juice and strawberries will do the trick. Throw it all in the blender with some ice, and let the machinery do the hard work for you.While the frozen Strawb…
  • gin, elderflower, mint, geranium
    The flavours of an English garden - summer in a glass
  • vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, blueberries, cucumber, mint
    This fantastic Moscow Mule recipe from Something New For Dinner is truly one of our favorites. It's been featured all over the web in various compilations, as its beautiful combination of fresh blueberries, cucumber, and mint make it one of the more refreshing summertime cocktails out there.
  • Montanya Platino Rum, Triple Syrup, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Strawberries, Mint, Basil
    Fresh berries and citrus make this cocktail irresistible on any day of the year, but especially on a sunny, summer day on a warm patio. The fresh basil and lemon tame the sweetness to make this cocktail light with just the right element of tartness.
  • Rum, mint or shiso, simple syrup, green tea, lime juice
    This refreshing Green Tea Mojito is taken from Paul Abercrombie's Organic, Shaken and Stirred, and it's a great drink for the spring and summer months. It's a play on the classic Mojito recipe that adds chilled green tea and, optionally, shiso leaves to give the cocktail a bit of Asian flair. The original calls for sugar, but we substituted simple syrup in o…

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