Labor Day marks the end of the summer and many spend this three-day weekend barbequing, hosting guests or hanging out with friends. Why not take some extra time during this long weekend to make some truly creative and non-traditional cocktails for your friends and family? While these recipes might be a bit complex and labor intensive, they’re certainly worth the extra time and effort (it is Labor Day, after all!), so roll up your sleeves and get started on these edible drinks that are sure to impress your guests.
Spiked Watermelon-Hibiscus Popsicles
For this recipe, you’ll need to ensure enough time that the popsicles can set properly, so make them a day or two in advance.
- 10oz cubed fresh watermelon (I bought mine precut at the grocery store. If you are cutting your own, this is the equivalent of ~ 1.5 cups)
- 1/2 cup hibiscus syrup* or fruit tea (such as Tazo Passion tea)**
- 1/2 cup coconut water (I prefer the Vita Coco pure coconut water with pineapple for this recipe)
- 1/2 cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur (widely available in liquor stores)
- 1/3 cup Hendrick’s gin
* To make hibiscus syrup, boil 1/2 cup water and add 1/4 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers (can be found in gourmet tea shops). Let steep for 30 minutes then remove hibiscus flowers. Let cool to room temperature.
** If using fruit tea, boil 1/2 cup water and let 3 teabags steep for 10 minutes. Stir in 3 tbsp sugar and let come to room temperature.
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a measuring cup or bowl with a spout. Note: this is an important step. The mixture will not freeze properly with watermelon pulp in it.
Pour strained mixture into your popsicle mold or small plastic cups and insert popsicle sticks. If using cups instead of a mold, cover each with tin foil, cut a small slit in the middle of the foil and insert the popsicle stick through the slit. The foil will hold the stick upright while the mixture freezes.
Let freeze for at least 12 hours and enjoy outside with your friends!
Spicy Paloma Jello Shots
I’m sure most of us remember Jello shots from college: red Jello, vodka or Everclear and some water. They were not very attractive nor very tasty. This recipe seeks to elevate the lowly Jello shot using fresh ingredients. As a friend said to me, “How fancy do you need to be if it’s going to be gone in less than five seconds?” One taste of these and you’ll see why. An added benefit of this recipe is that it is highly adaptable to the spirit of your choice. If you make it with vodka or gin instead of tequila, it’s a Spicy Greyhound.
- 2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin (available at any grocery store)
- 1 1/3 cups fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, strained
- Juice of 1 medium lime, strained
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2/3 cup plata (silver) tequila (or gin or vodka)
- 3 slices jalapeno with seeds
Pour 1/3 cup tequila into measuring cup and add jalapeno slices, setting remaining tequila aside. Let infuse for 15 minutes and taste for spiciness (if too spicy, add remaining tequila to temper the heat). Once at desired spice level, remove jalapeno and any seeds and add any remaining tequila. Set aside.
Pour grapefruit and lime juice through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a small saucepan and add gelatin. Let sit for a few minutes then turn on the heat to medium-low and stir while it heats – about 5-7 minutes – until gelatin is fully dissolved, but do not let simmer or boil. When gelatin has dissolved add honey and stir until fully incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in tequila. Pour into a silicone ice tray or mold. If you do not have molds, you may use small paper cups or a nonreactive cake pan. Let set in refrigerator overnight.
Remove from mold (and cut into cubes if using a cake pan). Garnish with a small piece of grapefruit dusted in kosher salt and watch your guests actually enjoy Jello shots for once.