Well friends, we’re back with another round of “Patrick’s favorite drinks” here at Ulterior/Interior, and I’ve gotta say — I’m pretty thrilled about these spring cocktail recipes.
Typically, I stay pretty true to the classics. In the past, I’ve focused on well-loved seasonal favorites: margaritas in the summer, and martinis and manhattans for a bit of warmth as the temperatures dropped. And while they feature top-shelf ingredients (sometimes with an unexpected twist), they’re usually simple classics even novice home bartenders can recreate.
But today’s cocktail recipes are a bit different.
I’m feeling rather celebratory and want to feature seasonal spring cocktails that are both beautiful and a bit unexpected. Because this is no ordinary spring! The world is opening back up, there’s a light at the end of this awful pandemic tunnel, and we can finally gather and entertain again.
With that in mind, I wanted our spring cocktail post to feel a bit more special, with elevated, unique drink recipes you wouldn’t find just anywhere. So today, I’m highlighting delicious spring cocktails that:
Are inspired by memorable drinks I first discovered in restaurants
Require an adventurous palette and spirit to recreate
Feature seasonal ingredients (including herbs, carrots, and lemons fresh my own garden)
The internet is filled with drink recipes. But after lots of research, I’ve discovered it’s hard to find standouts. Many feature the same ingredients over and over again, and while I love a tried-and-true classic, sometimes you just want something special.
And that’s why these cocktails are derived from restaurant drink menus. Expert bartenders and mixologists are tapped into the culture and the latest culinary trends. More importantly, they’re true artists and masters of their crafts, able to balance flavors and fuse styles in new and exciting ways.
These recipes feature those same unique flavor profiles, allowing you to recreate noteworthy cocktails at home. They increase in complexity — the first being relatively simple to assemble, while the last requires more commitment and preparation.
Still, all 3 are wonderful for a signature spring cocktail and are definitely conversation-starters for your guests.
So without further ado, let’s dive into your 3 new favorite brunch cocktails for spring...
The Empress Gin Sour
Full disclosure here: this isn’t even an adaptation — this drink recipe is straight from the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia. Using their signature Empress 1908 Gin, they’ve created a cocktail too beautiful to tamper with.
A gin sour might be a familiar classic, but this particular one is sure to catch people’s attention. That’s because Empress 1908 Gin is deep, stunning indigo in color. The hue occurs naturally and originates from the butterfly pea blossom — one of 8 natural botanicals infused in this signature spirit. Empress 1908 Gin is also infused with the Fairmont’s signature black tea blend, giving it a flavor profile unlike any other.
So while I often encourage readers to sub their favorite spirits in cocktail recipes, for this one, it’s got to be Empress.
Shaken with the acidic lemon juice, the gin’s deep indigo transforms to a rich pink — perfect for springtime. And while it might look sweet, it’s a good strong drink everyone will enjoy.
2 oz Fairmont's signature Empress 1908 Gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz egg white
Edible flowers, for garnish
Place gin and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir to combine. Add in simple syrup and egg whites and shake vigorously. Double strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with edible flowers.
Honey & Lavender Mint Julep
Whether you want a twist on a classic to sip during the Kentucky Derby, or you’re looking for a cocktail that highlights some of the best herbal notes of spring, this Honey & Lavender Mint Julep checks all the boxes.
It’s nice and refreshing but still packs a punch with the bourbon.
Honey Lavender Mint Syrup
Bunch of fresh lavender (flowers, stem, and all)
8 large fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 large fresh mint leaves
3/4 ounce Honey Lavender Mint Syrup
2 1/2 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice (plus some whole cubes). For those, like me, who don’t have a fridge that makes crushed ice, I found this method works like a charm.
Sprig of mint, for garnish
To make the Honey Lavender Mint Syrup, mix honey and water in a medium saucepan. Heat stirring constantly over medium-high heat, for about 2 minutes until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Coarsely tear the lavender and mint, add to the pan, and set aside 1 hour to cool. Strain out the lavender and mint and pour the syrup into a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup.
To make the Julep, gently muddle the mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add whole ice cubes, Honey Lavender Mint syrup, and bourbon, and stir to combine.* Fill a copper mug halfway with crushed ice and strain in ingredients. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint. Drink with a straw.
*I experimented with the more traditional method of muddling the mint directly in the mug but the large mint pieces were pretty unpleasant and kept getting lodged in the straw. So I recommend bucking tradition and straining this cocktail into the copper mug. It still delivers tons of fresh mint flavor you want while keeping your straw (and your teeth!) mint-free.
Savory & Spicy Carrot Cocktail
This is a fun twist for all the Bloody Mary fans out there.
A dear friend introduced me to this drink — one she enjoyed a few years ago at a restaurant in San Francisco. It required some experimenting with ratios and I took some liberties with the original ingredients but I loved how it turned out.
Admittedly, this one is a bit fussy — you’ll have to plan ahead to make the fresh pickled turmeric, and it has a couple of hard-to-find items but the end result is totally worth it. Plus, the process is fun, and it’s always really gratifying to create something so delicious with fresh ingredients from your garden or local farmers’ market.
To create your turmeric pickle brine, you’ll need to make a batch of fresh pickled turmeric 2 days in advance. Get the recipe here. For the cocktail, place liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir to combine. Strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with a parsley sprig.
Chalk this one up to, sometimes you learn the hard way: the brightly colored ingredients in this drink will stain your natural stone countertops so protect them accordingly!
*In the interest of full disclosure, I had every intention of creating my own habanero bitters using this recipe. Because I tested and photographed all three of these cocktails in a single weekend, I simply ran out of steam. But I’m eager to try it next time when I can focus solely on this one cocktail — and I’ll be sure to report back. In the meantime, if you’re looking for an added challenge, give it a try and let me know how it goes!
I hope these spring cocktail recipes have you in a festive mood, my friend.
Until next time,