Labor Day weekend is upon us, and no matter what your plans are (attending a festival or parade, having a cookout, catching up on your shows on the couch), any plans can be made better with the help of a good drink. For Greg Innocent, master mixologist and beverage director of Chicago’s The Hampton Social, he’s fond of toasting to the informal end of the season with champagne.
“Putting a bow on a summer season should be first celebrated with bubbles. There’s no better way to get ready for an even better fall season than to say thank you and cheers to the summer that was,” he tells ESSENCE, recommending options including Veuve Clicquot Brut, Raventos Blanc De Blanc and J Vineyards Brut Rose.
But as a master mixologist, what Innocent does best is make must-have cocktails. And there’s no time like the present to try something different. With that in mind, say sayonara to summer with some unique cocktail ideas from Innocent, sure to leave a lasting impression on the palate.
“Not only does it look great, but certain fruits really bring out the flavor profile of the rose.”
2 bottles of rose
1 grapefruit sliced into half moons
1 cup of sliced pears
1 cup of cubed watermelon
1 cup of sliced strawberries
1 cup of blueberries (cut them in half)
Method: Combine ingredients into a large container, cover and refrigerate. Let sit for 12-24 hours. Top with 6 oz of your favorite carbonated water, i.e. La Croix, Topo Chico etc., after fruit has infused flavor into wine before serving. Serve in a wine glass over ice and use fruit for garnishing.
“This is a fun take on a Moscow mule but with tequila. This cocktail traditionally calls for creme de cassis but blackberries offer a unique twist.”
Ingredients (for large batches):
“Anytime you’re gathering with friends for a holiday, I would recommend large batchable cocktails and one slow sipper to make things easy, especially if you don’t have a private bartender,” Innocent says.
1 bottle of tequila
1 cup of sliced blackberries
66 oz of ginger beer
11 oz of lime juice
Method: Infuse 1 cup of sliced blackberries in 1 bottle of preferred tequila (let sit for 12 hours). In a large punch bowl over ice, strain tequila of all fruit sediment and combine with other ingredients. Garnish with 1 cup of blackberries and six lime wheels. Served in a rocks glass over ice.
Toast Good Night
“The whiskey is served on the rocks with a lemon twist.”
2 oz of Uncle Nearest 1856
lemon twist (peel of a lemon)
Method: To make it, express the lemon twist to get the oils in the glass over the ice.