Labor Day’s right around the corner and with the beautiful we’re having lately, cocktails are sure to be prominent at many gatherings. Instead of just offering beer or wine to your guests, why not do like I like to do and serve a signature cocktail or two? Not hosting a party but attending one? Suggest to the host that you’ll bring a cocktail!
Here’s some cocktail inspiration from New Jersey experts.
- 2 cucumber slices
- ¼ ounce rosemary simple syrup
- 2 ounces Hendrick’s gin
- Juice of 3 limes
- Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
- Rosemary simple syrup: Stir 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 4 fresh rosemary sprigs in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil for a minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Strain, cover, and chill for 4 hours before use.
- In a Collins glass, muddle cucumber slices, lime juice and rosemary simple syrup. Add ice and gin. Shake and top with tonic. Garnish with rosemary.
Strawberry Peach Margarita (shown above)
- 1 ounce tequila
- ½ ounce peach schnapps
- ½ ounce strawberry puree
- 3 lime wedges
In a rocks glass, squeeze lime into strawberry purée. Add ice, tequila and peach schnapps. Shake. Rim glass with salt/pepper/sugar mix.
Above two cocktails courtesy of Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern, Ho-Ho-Kus
Le Blue Fairy
- 1 ½ ounces Belvedere wild berry vodka
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 3 tablespoon muddled blueberries
- Juice of 3 lemons
- ¼ ounce Absinthe
- Blueberries for garnish
Combine vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and muddled blueberries in a rocks glass with clean ice. Top with Absinthe and garnish with fresh blueberries.
Courtesy of Thierry Carrier, General Manager/Director of Operations, Avenue, Long Branch
- 3 cucumber slices
- 2 ounces gin
- ½ ounce dry vermouth
- ½ ounce Cynar
- Cucumber for garnish
Combine, stir and serve on the rocks.
Courtesy of Wes Kirk, Crafts Spirits Manager, Amanti Vino, Montclair
- 2 ounces peach Schnapps
- 3 ounces Pinot Grigio
- 3 ounces white peach purée
- 5 slices of fresh peaches, plus 1 for garnish
- 2 Luxardo marinated cherries
- 1 ounce lemon lime soda
- Combine peach Schnapps, Pinot Grigio and white peach purée in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake vigorously.
- Fill tall Collins glass with sliced peaches, cherries and ice.
- Strain and pour drink in glass.
- Top off with lemon lime soda
- Garnish with peach slice
Courtesy of Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, Clifton
Pop Rock Pom
Combine 8 ounces of dry pomegranate soda, ¼ cup muddled blueberries and 3 crushed fresh mint leaves. Serve over ice in a tall glass with the rim coated in Pop Rocks.
Makes one mocktail.
Courtesy of Terre à Terre, Carlstadt
Watermelon Strawberry Smash
- 1 cup puréed watermelon
- 6 large ripe strawberries, muddled
- 4 large Thai basil leaves, crushed
- 6 ounces lemon-lime soda
- Two sprigs of Thai basil for garnish (optional)
- Add the watermelon purée, muddled strawberries and crushed Thai basil to a tall glass or cocktail shaker. Stir to combine.
- Fill two tall glasses with ice and divide the watermelon/strawberry mixture into them.
- Add lemon-lime soda (you may not need the full 6 ounces) and stir the mixture.
- Garnish with the Thai basil, if using.
Makes two mocktails. Note: Yes, you can add an ounce of good quality Vodka to each drink for a more adult version.
Courtesy of Escape Montclair, Montclair
- 1/2 ounce JHBK Cinnamon Syrup
- 1 1/2 ounce Combier Grapefruit
- 3/4 ounce lime
- 1/2 ounce Rhum Barbancourt 15yo
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 2 dashes Absinthe
For the JHBK Cinnamon Syrup: Boil ½ cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water with 3 sticks for 5 minutes then allow to cool.
To a Collins Glass, add ½ full of crushed add liquid ingredients. Swizzle to mix and dilute. Once a slight frost has formed crown with more crushed ice. Garnish with a grapefruit crescent and a scrape of nutmeg if available. Also, if available, serve with a stainless steel spoon straw.
Courtesy of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, NJ
Bourbon Tarragon Cocktail
- 1 ½ ounce beer barrel Bourbon
- Muddled tarragon
- ½ ounce honey syrup (Heat 4 parts honey to 1 part hot water in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and cool.)
- 1 ounce sour mix
Combine all the ingredients and pour over ice.
Courtesy of Morris Tap & Grill, Randolph
Veronique Deblois is a food and wine blogger based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.