Mixology is a hot trend in fine dining, and you can easily create your own creative quaffs at home without fancy stemware or obscure liqueurs. We polled some of our favorite local watering holes for fun drinks to enliven a summer evening, or—why not?— a summer afternoon. We know you’ll drink responsibly; may you drink joyously, too.
Big Ginger | McCormick’s, Wayzata
An Irish pub stop means an Irish whiskey pop, so try a Big Ginger. A cocktail that knows no season, it’s the signature drink from 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, a Minnesota-born company. Its notes of caramel, vanilla and citrus are super-easy to recreate at home; just make sure you buy enough whiskey and ginger ale. These lovelies are seriously sippable.
¼ cup Irish whiskey
1 cup “off the shelf” ginger ale
Lemon and lime slices, for garnish
Fill a tall Collins glass with ice and pour the whiskey over it. Add the ginger ale and garnish with a slice of both lemon and lime.
The Minnetonka Motorboat | Lago Tacos, Excelsior
The Minnetonka Motorboat consists of two separate drinks: a blue lemon drop and a raspberry kamikaze served side-by-side. If you want to appreciate the full implication of this drink, bartender Freddy Gotfredsson recommends you consult the Urban Dictionary.
Blue Lemon Drop
¾ oz. Absolut citron
¼ oz. blue curaçao
Splash of sweet and sour
¾ oz. Stolichnaya raspberry
¼ oz. Gianelli’s raspberry liqueur
Splash of sweet and sour
Serve in two separate brandy snifters with straws; sip the two drinks simultaneously.
Arnold Palmer | Lord Fletcher’s, Spring Park
This classic old-school venue demands a quaff to match. Golf legend Arnold Palmer paired iced tea and lemonade for a refreshing post-green quencher and the combination adopted his name. Add a shot of vodka and it delivers a proper kick while remaining as civilized as can be.
½ cup iced tea (homemade or bottled)
8 fresh mint sprigs
4 cups lemonade from frozen concentrate
½ cup vodka
Serve over ice in a tall Collins glass; garnish with lemon slices.
Bacio Sangria | Bacio, Minnetonka
Sangria is a wine-based fruity punch from Spain and Portugal, and it’s been co-opted by other cuisines for its vivacious, celebratory vibe. There are many ways to make sangria depending on the ingredients are on hand. Feel free to experiment with different kinds of wine and fruit; it’s a classic mélange that’s hard to mess up.
1 bottle fruity red wine such as zinfandel
½ cup Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur such as triple sec
½ cup cognac
2 cups carbonated water (optional)
Chopped mixed fruit of choice (peaches, grapes, strawberries, etc.)
Stir all ingredients in a pitcher; add ice. Serve over ice and make sure chunks of fruit are in each glass.
Cucumber Cooler | Birch’s, Long Lake
This drink is pure, clean refreshment in a glass—uplifting on even the sultriest, stickiest days. It is one to savor and sip slowly. Don’t forget to let out a lot of long, satisfied “aahhs.”
¾ oz. Square One organic cucumber vodka
¼ oz. Knickerbocker gin
Fresh lime juice, to taste
Agave nectar, to taste
Serve in a chilled martini glass with a cucumber slice garnish.
Pear Mojito | Sunsets, Wayzata
Sunsets rocks an extensive mojito-only menu, which may set your head a-spin with decision anxiety. No worries; you can’t go wrong, whichever one you choose. We’re partial to the pear version, and it’s a snap to stir up for a fun backyard soirée.
1¼ oz. Absolut pear vodka
Fresh mint leaves
Muddle the mint leaves with the simple syrup in a tall Collins glass; fill with ice. Add the pear vodka and fill the rest with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.