Clean Out Your Summer Bar with These Creative Labor Day Cocktails

It's the official end of summer, so celebrate with these top-tier concoctions.

Clean Out Your Summer Bar with These Creative Labor Day Cocktails

It's the official end of summer, so celebrate with these top-tier concoctions.

Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or chilling out with friends, Labor Day weekend offers the perfect—and final—excuse to down summer’s most festive cocktails. So raise a glass to the de facto end of summer with this top-tier collection of Labor Day cocktails, straight from the cocktail books of this nation’s finest mixology workforce. Watermelon coolers, simple rosé crowd pleasers, and updated classics (a new Old Fashioned! An twist on the Mai Tai!) are all on the menu, along with pro-level tips and tricks to drink well and boost your bartending game. But if a simple glass of wine is more your style, try one of The 5 Best Light-Bodied Red Wines for Extending Your Summer.

Difficulty Levels: 1 (No Brainer) to 4 (Bar Ninja)

labor day cocktails

1
Aperol Spritz

—from Meaghan Dorman, The Bennett, New York

“One of the best aspects of an Aperol Spritz is you can have more than one! As we soak up the last bit of summer and all the great farmers market finds, the Aperol Spritz is a perfect match. The bubbles and orange notes give it a brightness that’s balanced out by the earthy and bitter notes. It’s also a crowd pleaser, so easy to mix up a pitcher for guests and not be stuck in the kitchen!”

Ingredients:

  • 1½ oz Aperol
  • 2 oz Prosecco
  • 2 oz Sparkling water (Perrier recommended)

Directions: Build in a glass with ice. Add orange and grapefruit slices.

Difficulty: 1
Photography by Matt Taylor Gross

labor day cocktails

2
BlackTail Mojito

—from Jesse Vida, BlackTail, New York

“The Mojito is the perfect cocktail to enjoy as we say goodbye to summer. It’s a light and bright refresher that’s executed with exact consistency. The first is as good as the last.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 Dash Angostura bitters
  • 6-8 Mint leaves
  • ¾ oz Lime juice
  • ¾ oz Simple syrup
  • 2 oz aged rum (Cana Brava recommended)

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with mint leaves (do not muddle). Serve in a bar glass over cracked ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a mint sprig. You definitely should already know the basics of a mojito, though, as well as these other 20 cocktails everyone should know how to make.

Pro Tip: To make simple syrup, heat equal parts sugar and water and heat until sugar dissolves.

Difficulty: 2

labor day cocktails

3
Old Fashioned Cocktail (For a Crowd)

—from Darren Grenia, Yours Sincerely, Brooklyn

“This is a great sipper for an afternoon on a big porch, and it fits in a 750ml liquor bottle for easy pouring. Simply double the recipe for larger gatherings.”

Ingredients:

  • 28ml Orange bitters
  • 56ml Simple syrup
  • 511ml Bourbon
  • 105ml Water

Directions: Place in large bowl or pitcher and stir well. Funnel into an empty liquor or wine bottle, cork it, and store it in the fridge. Serve over ice with an orange peel garnish.

Pro Tip: “Use milliliters to measure large format cocktails,” says Grenia, “and you’ll have a consistent cocktail every time. You can find beakers on the cheap on Amazon.”

Difficulty: 2

labor day cocktails

4
Wild Blueberry Daiquiri

—from Amy Zavatto, author of Forager’s Cocktails: Botanical Mixology with Fresh, Natural Ingredients

“Right now, it’s all about blueberries. It’s hard to find a spirit that they won’t complement, so there’s no excuse not to mix up something refreshing, even off the cuff.”

Ingredients:

  • 1½ oz White rum
  • ¾ cup Fresh blueberries
  • ½ oz Fresh lime juice

Directions: Place blueberries in a shaker and muddle thoroughly. Add rum and fresh lime juice. Fill halfway with ice. Shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a few fresh blueberries. And maybe serve with a side of grapes, because those two fruits together are one of the 13 healthiest food combos.

Difficulty: 2
Photography by Claire Lloyd Davies

labor day cocktails

5
Parachute

from Tyson Buhler, Death & Co., New York

“Summer drinking to me is all about daytime drinking. But there’s nothing worse than an over-served person at the family picnic, so low-alcohol cocktails like the Parachute are perfect. With the two bases in this cocktail coming in under 20% ABV, you can enjoy a few of these without ruining your night.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz White Porto (Quinta do Infantado recommended)
  • 1 oz Salers Liqueur
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • ¾ oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Tonic Water (Fever Tree recommended)

Directions: Fill a shaker halfway with ice and add all ingredients except tonic water. Shake, strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with tonic water. Optional garnish with grapefruit crescent.

Difficulty: 3

labor day cocktails

6
Rebel Rosé Cocktail

from Theo Rutherford, Sommelier at Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

“This cocktail evokes the flavors of both summer and autumn, making this the perfect drink to sip on Labor Day. It combines the citrus and floral hints of summer—hearty, aromatic rye spice, and vanilla—that’s reminiscent of the season ahead.”

Ingredients:

4 oz Rosé (Josh Cellars recommended)
1½ oz Bourbon (Redemption recommended)
1 oz Licor 43 Spanish liqueur
Grapefruit juice

Directions: Combine wine, bourbon and Licor 43 in a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour over ice. Top with grapefruit juice. Garnish with a grapefruit peel and enjoy.

Difficulty: 3

labor day cocktails

7
Strawberry Letter (For a Crowd)

from Meaghan Dorman, The Bennett, New York

“Fresh and fruity, this crowd pleaser is all about strawberry, raspberry and citrus notes. It’s our way to add a cocktail spin to the ‘rosè all day’ mantra of summer.”

Ingredients:

  • 21 oz Rosé Wine
  • 10 oz Sparkling water (Perrier recommended)
  • 7 oz Aperol
  • 3½ oz Strawberry Shrub

Directions: Build in a carafe with ice. Serve in stemless wine glasses over ice. Garnish with strawberry slices.

Pro Tip: For the strawberry shrub, pack ten halved strawberries in 2 cups sugar overnight. Add 2 cups raspberry vinegar. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and remove immediately. Let cool and strain.

Difficulty: 3; Makes about six 6-oz serving
Photography by Matt Taylor Gross

labor day cocktails

8
Empire Sunset

from Fabio Schiattarella, Empire Rooftop, New York

“Our Empire Sunset is an indulgence that will set the right mood for Labor Day, refreshing, colorful and full of summer flavors. Perfect for gatherings, the blood orange puree is available in larger gourmet grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ oz Vodka (Ketel One recommended)
  • 1 ¼ oz White Rum
  • ½ oz Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ oz Fennel syrup
  • 2 oz Blood orange puree
  • Prosecco

Directions: Combine all ingredients except Prosecco. Shake and strain over ice. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a blood orange slice and black cherry.

Pro Tip: To make fennel syrup, Simmer ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water with 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, then strain. (Keeps in the fridge for up to a month.)

Difficulty: 3

labor day cocktails

9
Thumper

from Chad Solomon, Midnight Rambler, Houston

“A thumper is a nickname for watermelon in Texas, and this Labor Day cocktail offers one of the last chances to enjoy it before we say farewell to Summertime.”

Ingredients:

  • ¾ oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • ½ oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz Fresh Watermelon Juice
  • 1 ½ oz Gin (Tanqueray recommended)
  • One dash Angostura
  • 2 drops Absinthe (Vieux Pontarlier recommended)
  • Top with chilled club soda

Directions: Measure ingredients into a shaker tin. Add ice and lightly shake to chill, but not dilute. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with a watermelon spear.

Difficulty: 4

labor day cocktails

10
Summer in the Hamptons

from Shawn Chen, RedFarm, New York

“Here is an improved version of wine cooler, using an Italian botanical to add complexity and a refreshing quality to this cocktail. It can instantly transport you to the coast of Italy with its bright and zesty aroma.”

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz White Wine (Chenin Blanc recommended)
  • ¾ oz Italicus Rosolio Di Bergamotto liqueur
  • 3 Dashes white wine vinegar
  • 1 Blackberry
  • 2 Raspberries

Directions: Build in a shaking tin. Lightly muddle blackberry and raspberries. Pour in Italicus and wine. Add ice. Shake and double strain into a wine glass. Garnish with a skewered blackberry.

Difficulty: 4
Photography by Matt Taylor Gross

labor day cocktails

11
Last Apostle

from Sam Ross, Diamond Reef, Brooklyn

“From one cultural icon to another, as rosé is to summer, the 12 Apostles are to the Australian landscape. Experience both before summer ends with the sparkling sweetness of this cocktail.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Navy strength gin (Four Pillars)
  • 2 oz sparkling rosé
  • ½ oz Lemon juice
  • ½ oz Orange juice
  • ½ oz Simple syrup
  • ½ oz Ginger juice
  • ½ oz Fresh passionfruit pulp (optional)

Directions: Add all to shaker except sparkling rose, dry shake (without ice) and pour over crushed ice in a chilled collins glass or tiki mug, top with a sparkling rose and more crushed ice. Garnish with passion fruit, orchid, or anything else pretty.

Difficulty: 4
Photography by Jessie Gibson

labor day cocktails

12
Low Country Mai Tai

from Nick Bennett, Porchlight, New York

“Not all tiki cocktails need to be rum-based. This rye Mai Tai is entirely tiki and Southern at the same time. Perfect for the waning days of summer.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Rye (Virgil Kane recommended)
  • ½ oz Black Strap rum (Cruzan recommended)
  • ¼ oz Absinthe (C&K Citrus recommended)
  • ¼ oz Orange liqueur (Cointreau recommended)
  • ½ oz Maple Pecan Orgeat
  • ½ oz Lemon juice
  • Two dashes of Angostura

Directions: Whip, shake, and serve in a tin cup glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime husk and mint crown (optional).

Pro Tip: Whip shaking is a technique used for making crushed ice drinks like this one. Add a small amount of ice to the ingredients and shake until water melts. Your drink will cool, not chill. The pebble ice in the glass will take care of that.

Difficulty: 4
Photography by Liz Clayman

labor day cocktails

13
Penn’s Woods

from Christine Lamb, Philadelphia Distilling, Philadelphia

“Just in time for Labor Day, this cocktail pays homage to the ideals of America’s Founding Fathers, who laid the groundwork for American social and labor advancement.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz Gin (Bluecoat American Dry is recommended)
  • ¼ oz Dry vermouth
  • ½ oz Lemon
  • ¾ Simple syrup
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh dill
  • 2 Leaves Fresh basil
  • 4 Coriander seeds

Directions: Lightly muddle dill, basil, and coriander at the bottom of the shaker. Add Bluecoat Gin, dry vermouth, lemon, and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

Difficulty: 3

labor day cocktails

14
Cures What Ales You

from Gareth Howells, The VNYL, New York

“With the promise of cooler weather on the way we opted for a big, high ABV American ale and the split base of Jägermeister with rye whiskey. But as it still feels like summer, we wanted to retain those fresh orange and mint flavors, that remind us of warmer days.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Jägermeister
  • 1 oz Rye whiskey
  • 2 oz Ale (Arrogant Bastard recommended)
  • 1 Orange Segment
  • ½ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz Simple syrup
  • 2 Dashes orange bitters
  • Mint (8 leaves)
  • Egg white (Optional)

Directions: Muddle orange, mint, and sugar in a shaker, and add egg white, lemon juice, simple syrup, rye whiskey and Jägermeister. Dry shake to emulsify. Add ice and wet shake. Top with beer and strain into a glass. Garnish with mint sprig.

Pro Tip: Emulsified egg white gives a cocktail an attractive froth without lending flavor.

Difficulty: 4

labor day cocktails

15
The Melony Griffith

from Raffaello Van Couten, Owner of Midnights, Brooklyn

“Not only does a watermelon and vodka cocktail scream summer, but you can also have a drink while giving back. Simple Vodka donates to hunger relief organizations in America for every drink poured, and we donate $1 from the sale of every Melony Griffith to local Brooklyn food banks. This deal ends when summer does, so come on in!”

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Simple Vodka
  • ½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • ¼ oz Simple Syrup
  • 2pc Mint
  • 2pc Fresh ½” watermelon cubes
  • 8-10 pc Frozen watermelon cubes (Optional)
  • Seltzer
  • Fresh Mint Sprig

Directions: Add vodka, lime, simple syrup, mint pieces, and two watermelon cubes to a cocktail shaker and shake. Pour into a Collins Glass filled with frozen watermelon cubes. Top with seltzer and mint.

Pro Tip: Freezing watermelon cubes may be a hassle, but it classes up the cocktail and tastes great—hence worth it. But if you’re pining for cocktails that aren’t so time-consuming, here are 15 Two-Ingredient Cocktails You Can Make in 15 Seconds.

Difficulty: 4

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