The weather warms, the daylight hours lengthen and the rich smell of burning firewood is replaced with the sweet fragrance of flowers. Winter has finally ended and it's time to start reveling in the sunshine, so invite some friends and family to share in the celebration with a cheery brunch, barbecue or dinner party. The only thing missing is a cool drink to complement the milder temps. Several top mixologists stepped up to solve that little dilemma, sharing the recipes for some of their favorite warm-weather cocktails.
Celebrate Spring with 10 Refreshing Cocktails
Sparkling Bocce Ball
"This recipe is a fantastic twist on the traditional mimosa," said Jordan Catapano, Los Angeles-based author of "This Girl Walks Into a Bar" and expert mixologist for BevMo! "Amaretto tastes delicious with orange juice and blends harmoniously with sparkling wine." The refreshing Sparkling Bocce Ball makes an excellent breakfast or brunch cocktail. Combine 2 ounces orange juice and 1 ounce Disaronno Originale in a white wine glass or Champagne flute and stir. Pour in 3 ounces of sparkling wine and serve.
For a modern take on the classic mint julep, try the Anejo Julep, courtesy of Jacques Bezuidenhout, bartender ambassador for San Francisco's Partida Tequila. In a julep cup, add 1 bar spoon each of peach syrup and simple syrup and 6 to 8 mint leaves. Muddle lightly to release mint oils. Add some crushed ice and 1 1/2 ounces Partida Anejo Tequila. Give it all a good stir. Add another 1 1/2 ounces of tequila; stir. Top off with more crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
In a pitcher, add 2 ounces of Tabasco or Cholula Hot Sauce, 1 ounce lime juice, 7 ounces orange juice, 5 ounces grapefruit juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper, 15 ounces of tomato juice and a jalapeno, halved with seeds. Stir until salt and pepper dissolve. Allow mixture to sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Once the right heat level is reached, remove jalapeno halves. "Keep the sangrita refrigerated and enjoy accompanied with a neat pour of your favorite marque of Partida Tequila," Bezuidenhout said.
The Pink Sparkler makes about a gallon of punch -- ideal for a spring or summer gathering, said Ezra Pattek of The Bon Vivants in Miami. In a punch bowl, combine 2 bottles Passion XO Pink, 1 bottle sparkling wine, 12 ounces ginger liqueur, 16 ounces cranberry juice, 10 ounces lime juice and 4 ounces orange juice. Float orange and lime wheels in a punch bowl; add several scoops of ice. Serve cocktails in rocks glasses; garnish each with a float of sparkling wine, an orange slice and grated nutmeg.
"The savory Cilan-tini is a play on healthy cocktails with a little bit of kick," said Pablo Villareal, house mixologist at New York's Jazz at Kitano. Muddle together 4 cherry tomatoes, 1 dried red chili pepper, 8 to 10 cilantro leaves and a pinch of salt. Add 2 ounces of Grey Goose and 1/2 ounce each of lime juice, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake over ice. Garnish with a cilantro leaf.
Side Car Citrus
"The Side Car Citrus is a delicious balance of strength, sour and sweet," said mixologist Kellie Rowland of Six.One.Six in the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, Michigan. "The Patron Citronage adds some bite that the extra splash of orange juice balances out." Combine 1 1/2 ounces Christian Brother's Brandy, 1 ounce Patron Citronage, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice. Shake with ice. Strain mixture into a martini glass with sugared rim, using an orange slice as garnish.
Pam Bushling, mixologist at Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, California, knows a great cocktail for temperate temperatures: the Pom Williams. "It's a delicate Champagne cocktail that's especially good at a warm-weather party." Combine 1 ounce pear liquor and 1/8 ounce Meyer lemon juice in a Champagne flute. Fill with sparkling pear cider and drop in 4 or 5 pomegranate seeds.
The Lovely is ideal for those who aren't fond of sweet cocktails, said Lauren Lathrop Williams, assistant general manager and lead cocktail engineer at San Diego's Jsix Restaurant and Lounge. Williams uses prosecco in The Lovely for its floral, fruity lightness, then adds 1/4 ounce of St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, to play up the floral notes in the prosecco. "The ratio of prosecco to St. Germain can be adjusted to taste," she said.
Along with sparkles, Bushling's Lavender 75 holds a touch of stoutness. Combine 1 1/2 ounces of lavender gin, 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice and 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of simple syrup in a Champagne flute. Give it a quick stir, then slowly fill the remainder of the flute with prosecco. Keep your gin in the freezer before mixing this drink, Bushling advised. "It will help tame the prosecco fizz and reduce the chances of overflowing."
Citrus Sparkle: The Citrus Gin Pre-Mix
Because you make the Citrus Gin pre-mix ahead of time, serving the Citrus Sparkle -- a cocktail from celebrity chef and mixologist Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen in Seattle -- is a breeze. To prepare the pre-mix, combine 2 cups Martin Miller's Gin, 1/2 cup Cointreau, 1/2 cup simple syrup and 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice. Funnel the mixture into a pretty bottle and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to a week. This makes enough pre-mix for 10 to 12 Citrus Sparkle cocktails.
Citrus Sparkle: Preparing the Cocktail
Squeeze and drop 1/4 of a clementine, tangerine or mandarin into a cocktail shaker. Add 3 ounces of the Citrus Gin pre-mix, fill with ice, cap and shake vigorously. Strain into a Champagne flute. Top with 1 1/2 ounces of chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine and garnish with a small sprig of rosemary or an orange twist.
Cocktail Supplemental: Simple Syrup
Many cocktail recipes -- including several here -- call for simple syrup. You can find simple syrup at well-stocked liquor stores or in the bar section of grocery stores. Another option is to make your own simple syrup, Casey said. Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove from heat and allow to cool. This simple syrup will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator.