Five classic cocktail recipes

Five fun cocktail recipes to help you celebrate happy hour at home
By Jennifer Danter
Five classic cocktail recipes

A good cocktail is a must for outdoor summer-sipping. Anything "retro" is still hot, hot, hot, so stick to the classics – think outside the martini glass with these five cool cocktail recipes. Discover the deep south with a punchy Mint julep or go exotic with a Brazilian caipirinha (they definitely know a thing or two about beating the heat). Lemonade is a good ol' time thirst-quencher. Twist it up with a little fresh fruit and vodka with our adults-only Melon-ginger limeade. Go old school and revive the much-loved (and unfortunately named) Purple Jesus with our more sophisticated Frosty grape fizz or embrace the tastes of the season with a sparkling Peach sipper.

Classic mint julep
Beat the heat with this traditional southern cocktail.

Makes 6 servings

24 large mint leaves
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
2 cups (500 mL) bourbon
Ice cubes or crushed ice
Mint sprigs (optional)

1. Place mint leaves and sugar in a pitcher. Using a wooden spoon, mash leaves with sugar against side of pitcher to release flavour. Stir in bourbon until sugar dissolves completely. Cover and refrigerate to allow flavours to blend, at least 5 hours or up to half a day. Don't worry if mint leaves darken because mixture will be strained.

2. Just before serving, fill glasses with ice. Strain bourbon mixture, then pour into glasses. Garnish each with a fresh sprig of mint.

Brazil's "peasant drink," a.k.a. the cocktail that replaced the malaria shot.

8 lime wedges
2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar
5 tbsp (75 mL) cachaca (Brazilian rum)

1. Mash wedges in a jug. Crush sugar into lime with a wooden pestle. Be careful not to crush lime skin too much, as this adds a bitter quality to the flavour. Pour cachaca over lime. Stir well. Add ice. Ask at your local liquor store about the availability of cachaca. If you use vodka instead of cachaca, the drink is called a Caipiroska; with rum, it's a Caipirissima.

Melon-ginger limeade
Pack a Thermos-full on your next picnic, or kick back and relax in the hammock with a tall frosty glass.

Makes 4 cups (1 L)

5 cups (1.25 L) coarsely chopped seedless watermelon, preferably chilled
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen limeade concentrate and vodka
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh ginger

1. Place watermelon chunks in a blender or food processor. Add limeade and vodka. Whirl until smooth. Then place chopped ginger in a garlic press. Squeeze to extract ginger juice from pulp. Don't press ginger all the way through holes. Juice should measure about 2 tsp (10 mL). Add to blender and whirl until evenly mixed.

2. Pour into a large pitcher. Cover and refrigerate to chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. Pour into glasses. For a great garnish, skewer small chunks of watermelon on toothpicks or small skewers and add to glasses.

Frosty grape fizz
Bubbly and icily refreshing – perfect for relaxing on the patio.

Makes 4 cups (1 L)

1 cup (250 mL) purple grape juice
1/2 cup (125 mL) gin or vodka
1 tbsp (15 mL) orange-flavoured liqueur
2 355-mL cans chilled soda water

1. In a large pitcher, stir grape juice with gin, orange-flavoured liqueur and soda water. Pour into tall glasses filled with ice cubes. Top with spirals of orange peel or garnish glasses with tiny champagne grapes.

Peach sipper
Sparkling wine adds some fizz to our favourite "fuzzy navel" cocktail. Toss in a few superb, summer-ripe Canadian peaches and you've got the ultimate patio cocktail.

Makes 10 cups (2.5 L), for 8 to 16 servings

4 cups (1 L) orange juice
2 cups (500 mL) vodka
1 cup (250 mL) peach schnapps
750 mL bottle sparkling wine, well chilled
1 ripe peach
Ice cubes
8 mint sprigs

1. In a large pitcher, stir juice with vodka and peach schnapps. Stir in wine. Peel peach, if you like, then slice in half. Discard pit. Slice peach halves into thin wedges. Fill 8 to 10 glasses with a few ice cubes and 1 or 2 peach wedges. Fill glasses with wine mixture. Garnish with mint sprigs. Refrigerate remaining mixture. If making ahead, prepare up to point of adding wine. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours or overnight. Stir in wine and add garnish just before serving. Cheers!

Besides the booze, stock your summer bar with:
Fresh lemons, limes and summer berries
Fresh melons and stone fruit, such as peaches
Fresh mint
Soda water
Ice bucket & tongs
Glass or plastic pitcher
Colourful patio glassware
Swizzle sticks
Funky ice cubes trays...ever had a drink with a dolphin as an ice cube?


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