Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer. It's basically the Fourth of July's severely underrated but just a fun second cousin, and it's time that Memorial Day parties started getting the attention they deserve.
If you want to throw a barbeque, rooftop party, or lowkey rager to celebrate finally having crop top weather again, use these recipes instead of just throwing out a couple of bottles of Prestige and soda to trick your friends into thinking you have your sh*t together.
The Kentucky Derby may be long gone, but nothing says summer like a mint julep. Bay Kitchen Bar in the Hamptons makes this bourbon-based Southern staple with a sweet twist: blackberries.
Mix two ounces of bourbon, a half ounce of Chambord (or an off-brand blackberry and raspberry liqueur), .75 ounces of lime juice, a half ounce of demerara syrup, five muddled blackberries, and six mint leaves in a shaker. Just pour it over crushed ice, garnish with a mint sprig and a blackberry to stunt on all of your friends, and your specialty cocktail is good to go.
Sparkling Ice via Cosmopolitan
Memorial Day marks the official first day of the summer season, but it's also about honoring our troops. This brightly colored slushy is patriotic AF thanks to its always-festive blue curaçao liqueur.
Blue curaçao is a ~liqueur~ not liquor, so the ounce you'll be yeeting into your blender isn't going to do much to get the party started. The ounce and a half of white rum, however, gives this frozen blue lemonade recipe from Sparkling Ice its adults-only kick. Combine the rum and blue curaçao, three ounces of sparkling lemonade, and ice in a blender. Blend on high until you reach your preferred level of slush, and garnish with blueberries and raspberries.
The best part about summer is that watermelon is in season. Something just feels wrong about buying watermelon in the winter and fall, even though terrifying scientific advancements make it ~technically~ possible to enjoy this sweet treat all year long.
This Cosmo recipe calls for three watermelon chunks to be "muddled" at the bottom of a glass, which basically just means to mush and stir them up. Add ice, two ounces of watermelon vodka, a 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, and a half ounce of elderflower liqueur, then stir it all up. TBH, we're pretty sure you could just substitute Grand Marnier, triple sec, or any citrus liqueur for the elderflower if, like me, you think elderflower tastes like feet. Garnish with a watermelon wedge because you're fancy.
This may come as a shock, but not everyone likes alcohol. I know, I was surprised, too. For your teetotaling friends, preggos, your teen cousin, or anyone else who chooses not to partake, this ginger-peach soda is a sunny addition to any barbeque. Or you can just spike it with a mini-bottle of rum in the bathroom, I really don't care.
The Country Living recipe calls for making your own ginger-infused simple syrup, but if you'd rather stay far, far away from your stove and save half an hour, you can literally just buy this online. Pour the syrup into a medium bowl through a sieve, then press two tablespoons of minced ginger against the sieve with the back of a spoon over the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it's chilly. Slice up two peaches and distribute the pieces among eight glasses, then press the peaches with the back of a spoon to release their juices. Pour two tablespoons of the chilled syrup into each cup, then add ice cubes and seltzer. Stir until evenly mixed, then garnish with two mint leaves.
This glittering drink caters to our inner basic b*tches with sparkling rosé, lemonade, and sangria, the trifecta of stereotypical summer refreshers. Instagram is quaking. Delish's pink lemonade sangria is made in a large pitcher, so it's perfect as self-serve party punch.
Combine an entire 750ml bottle of dry sparkling rosé, a cup of vodka, a can of frozen lemonade (the concentrate, which is how you know this is deadly), a half cup of club soda, two cups of sliced strawberries, and three thinly sliced lemons in a pitcher or big-*ss bowl. Stir and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
For those of us who aren't up on our 1920s lingo, a shandy is just beer and lemonade mixed together. This Country Living recipe adds gin and honey for a refreshing twist on the classic drink. Might we suggest calling it your "American Honey" cocktail?
Stir a cup of fresh lemon juice and four tablespoons of pure honey together in a pitcher until the honey has dissolved, then stir in two cups of gin. If the whole "multiple cups of gin" thing wasn't a dead giveaway, this recipe makes about ten servings. Pour this mixture over ice and top it off with a half cup of beer. The recipe suggests a lager or a pilsner for the best effect.
Who doesn't like getting caught in the rain? Show your love for piña coladas with a recipe that explains how to make these festive pineapple cups — tiny paper umbrellas not included. The biggest takeaway from Delish's loooong explanation is that you should probably invest in a pineapple corer.
Using the insides of the pineapple you so skillfully have cored, chop one pineapple into large chunks and blend them together with four ounces of light rum, one ounce of dark rum, four ounces of coconut cream, a splash of pineapple juice, and a splash of coconut milk. Obvi, also blend it with ice.
If you're looking for a slightly less patriotic blue curaçao offering, these mermaid mules actually come out more turquoise than the above picture shows, making them a tropical blue addition to your party aesthetic.
For three servings of this mythical delight, divide six ounces of vodka, three ounces of blue curaçao, and three ounces of lime juice between three cups and mix to combine. Fill the glasses with ice, and afterward, top off the drinks with ginger beer until you get your desired color. Garnish with a lime round to compliment the tang of this citrusy summer answer to a Moscow Mule.
If you love the idea of the South but aren't thrilled at the prospect of entering a red state, just make these sweet tea sangrias instead. This Delish interpretation of the Southern staple might make real dixie residents cringe, but Yankees will feel like they're swinging on a porch in July.
Add a 750-ml bottle of white wine, four cups of sweet tea, a quarter cup of triple sec, two cups of frozen peaches, and two cups of raspberries into a pitcher and stir to combine. Refrigerate until it's legit cold, and served garnished with mint.
Lovely Indeed used this spiked punch for their July 4th festivities, but there's really no difference between Independence Day and Memorial Day when it comes to barbeque planning. She also had the good sense to use watermelon vodka in her recipe, so we're thinking this recipe is going to be dangerously sweet.
For 8 servings, puree half of a cubed large watermelon with the juice from five lemons and chopped leaves from four rosemary sprigs in a blender with a half cup of sugar. You'll only need to puree for thirty seconds, but this means you should strain the mixture to remove pulp and leftover leaves. In a pitcher, add two and a half cups of this mixture to two and a half cups of watermelon Smirnoff. Pour a half cup of the mixture over ice and top with club soda. Odds are you will not taste the alcohol, so drink slowly or suffer the consequences.