Rhubarb is here! But what exactly do you do with a bunch of rhubarb? I actually think it makes a much better cocktail ingredient than baking ingredient, because of its tart grassy flavor. This cocktail goes all out with the rhubarb and a fennel-infused vodka. You can use the syrup and juice you make for this recipe in other rhubarb cocktails or get even fancier by making your own homemade rhubarb bitters.
1 1/2 ounces fennel-infused vodka*
1 1/2 ounces rhubarb syrup**
1/3 ounce rhubarb juice
3/4 ounce lime juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Note: If you don’t have a juicer, you juice rhubarb (stalks only!) in a blender and then press through a fine-mesh strainer.
1 cup vodka
1 sprig fresh fennel (the greenery, not the bulb)
Let fennel steep in vodka for 24 hours. Taste to see if you’re satisfied with the flavor. If you’d like it more intense, steep for longer.
1 1/2 cups water
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into half-inch pieces
3/4 cup cane sugar
Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will separate and turn into mush. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 10 more minutes. Strain out the solids through a fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth. You can use the mush in baking. Keep the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
Spring cocktail time! This one that I made with Savvy Housekeeping tastes like a delicate and refreshing grapefruit-elderflower soda with strawberries. (But don’t let that fool ya’ … there’s vodka in there!) Use juicy Ruby Red grapefruits, which are still hanging around, and fresh strawberries, which have just started their season. You can even leave out the vodka, for a lower-alcohol version.
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 ounce St. Germain (elderflower liqueur)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3 strawberries, cut up
Club soda (about 4 ounces)
Muddle the juice, liqueur, simple syrup, and strawberries in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and then stir in the vodka. Pour into a glass and add ice, then top off with club soda.
Herbs are an essential part of cocktails. For some reason, mint seems to dominate drink recipes even though there are plenty of other delicious herbs in the garden. Now, I don’t have anything against mint. But other herbs that we use to give flavor to our meals are just as good at livening up a cocktail. Here are a few herbal cocktails you might not have tried.
Raspberry-Thyme Smash ~ Get a head start on summer with a refreshing mix of gin, raspberries, and thyme—along with a little simple syrup and lime. I’ve been seeing good berries around, but if you can’t find any, go with frozen.
Pink Rosemary Greyhound ~ Try this slight tweaking of the classic grapefruit-and-vodka Greyhound cocktail, made with Ruby Red grapefruit and rosemary simple syrup. A good one for brunch!
Strawberry Basil Mojito ~ It’s been a hot spring so far in my neck of the woods, which gets me thinking about Mojitos. Adding some strawberries to the mix and using basil instead of mint is my favorite variation on this cooling cocktail.
Gin Lime Rickeys With Cilantro ~ OK, so I know that some people’s tastebuds can’t stand cilantro. But for the rest of us, it has a savory and fresh flavor that brightens up other ingredients. Paired with lime, it really tastes fantastic.
Tequila and Sage Smash ~ As you can see, I am all for smashing things! Honey, sage, and añejo tequila make for a flavorful drink with a lot of complexity.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
The Roquette from Matt Biancaniello
Make your mama proud and add more vegetables to your diet! Veggies aren’t just for dinner. They can add a fresh and flavorful touch to cocktails, too. It may sound weird, but it tastes good … and that’s all that matters.
The Sweet Pea ~ Peas are sweet, so why not use them in a cocktail? Just muddle the peas with sugar and lemon then add vodka and shake over ice.
Sweet Corn Cocktail ~ Just like the Sweet Pea cocktail, this one muddles in some sweet veggies—except with dark rum and mole bitters for a spicy depth.
Barefoot in the Garden ~ Celery-infused tequila pairs well with elderflower liqueur and Lillet Blanc for a light and refreshing cocktail that’s perfect the thing to sip as you enjoy the budding blooms.
What’s Up, Doc? ~ This carrot and gin cocktail with a hint of ginger is a good brunch drink. Add a little cinnamon on top, and it’s almost like drinking an alcoholic carrot cake.
The Roquette ~ The unique bite of arugula is tasty in this veggie-inspired take on the classic Gimlet, created by Matthew Biancaniello (whose site is filled with colorful photos, like the one above, of his creations).
I got together with Savvy Housekeeping to celebrate spring! We got a bottle of sparkling wine and scooped a little of her homemade meyer lemon sorbet into our Champagne flutes. Delicious! It got us thinking that since we were already drinking lemon, sugar, and sparkling wine, why not add a little gin for a sorbet-float version of a French 75? The melting sorbet added a lovely texture to the drink and the flavor was out of this world.
If you’re not a gin person, just leave the gin out of this recipe for a Champagne Lemon Float. You can make the sorbet or use your favorite store-bought variety.
French 75 Float
1 1/2 ounces gin
Scoop desired amount of sorbet into a glass. Add gin. Top off with Champagne.
The Bloodhound from 12 Bottle Bar
Gorgeous, sweet strawberries are EVERYWHERE! At least, that’s the case here in Northern California. If it’s not true where you live, sorry for this completely selfish roundup of awesome cocktails made with fresh strawberries. I didn’t mean to rub it in your face. (Maybe try frozen so you can play along at home?)
Bloodhound Cocktail ~ We like to think that fresh fruit in cocktails is a modern thing, but this recipe has been around since the 1920s. Gin, sweet and dry vermouth, with fresh strawberries? Timeless.
Strawberry Mint Julep ~ This has the added fun of making strawberry-infused bourbon for your julep. However, I’m sure that a Mint Julep made with regular bourbon with some fresh berries added would also be fantastic.
Balsamic Strawberry Smash ~ Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are a great match, but I never would have thought they’d go so well with bourbon. Well, they do … and this cocktail is proof.
Strawberry Rosemary Sangria ~ If it’s party time, sangria is a good way to go. This one has some interesting pairings and is great for warm weather.
Strawberry Margaritas ~ No need to whip out the blender for this one. It’s the classic and simple Margarita with strawberries.
Strawberry Basil Mojito ~Strawberry and basil is one of my favorite flavor combinations, therefore this Mojito is my go-to drink when it’s sunny.
Back before Spring had actually sprung, Nolet’s Gin sent me some fun jams and marmalades to use in drinks. The theme was “from cupboard to cocktail.” Inspired by blueberry-lime jam from American Spoon and the floral notes in Nolet’s, I came up with this Champagne cocktail that tastes very Springy even though you could make it any time of year.
While I’m fan of Nolet’s Gin and the jam they sent me, you could easily sub in a different brand of gin and homemade preserves or another type of blueberry jam. In fact, if you made a boatload of jam, you should start using it in cocktails! I mean, you have tons of the stuff, right?
The lavender flowers on top add a lovely aroma. However, if you would be annoyed to get them in your mouth or think they look funky on top, skip ‘em (and maybe opt for a sprig as a garnish).
1 ounce gin (being conservative here … this tastes good with up to 1 1/2 ounces in it)
2 tablespoons blueberry-lime jam
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
top off with sparkling wine (about 3-4 ounces)
Shake the gin, jam, and lime with ice then strain into champagne flute. Pour in champagne (slowly down the side of the inside of the glass so it doesn’t foam up too quickly). Optional: Sprinkle lavender on top for garnish and aroma.
Strawberry season is finally here! Roadside stands with farm-fresh berries are popping up all around me. Since the weather is warm, I have Mojitos on my mind. This combination of basil and strawberries is my favorite Mojito variation.
Strawberry Basil Mojito
4 large basil leaves
3 strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 ounces light rum
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
4 ounces club soda
Muddle the basil, strawberries, and simple syrup at the bottom of a Collins glass. Add rum and lime juice, then fill with ice and top off with club soda.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
Lavender Margarita from Sunset Magazine
It’s almost Cinco de Mayo! If you’re looking for a unique twist on the official Cinco de Mayo cocktail, the Margarita, look no further:
Spicy Grapefruit Margarita ~ Habanero Chiles and grapefruit, together at last. This is the one to go for if you want your margaritas to have a little kick.
Margarita de Sandia ~ Watermelon Margaritas! I don’t think I need to say anything else to convince you that is a great idea.
Lavender Margarita ~ In addition to delicious and fragrant Spring lavender, this gorgeous drink also has coconut milk and raspberries.
Mango Margarita ~ If you want to feel like you’re sipping cocktails on a white-sand beach, this is the Cinco de Mayo cocktail choice for you.
Cantaloupe Margarita ~ Cantaloupe and tequila go so well together, even though this isn’t a pairing that jumps to mind. Sweet and refreshing!
Rose Martini from Design Sponge
Now that it’s Spring, gorgeous flowers are popping up everywhere. So why not in your drinks, too? Floral liqueurs like St Germain and creme de violette are great in champagne, but there are plenty of other ways to add some delicate blossoms to your cocktails.
Bichon Frisé ~ You know what sounds delicious? A Greyhound, made with vodka and grapefruit juice, with a little elderflower liqueur.
Hibiscus Tequila Cocktail ~ Hibiscus and tequila are a fun pairing, but the dashes of habanero hot sauce make it a truly intriguing cocktail.
Rose Martini ~ This beautiful cocktail features rosewater and white creme de cacao for an elegant and delicate combination.
Delft Blue ~ A doubly floral drink with elderflower and violet liqueurs, two of the most popular ways to get flowers into cocktails.
Elderflower & Lemon Sparkling Sipper ~ Sparkling wine and elderflower syrup are a can’t-miss pairing that’s great for brunch. You could use an elderflower liqueur, an elderflower syrup from the store (Ikea has one), or make your own elderflower syrup.