Seven spring cocktails & drink ideas for your long weekend

by W. Andrew Powell
Georgian Bay Vodka and Georgian Bay Gin

Spring has sprung, the long weekend is almost here, and we have seven exceptional spring cocktails and drink ideas for your next get together. Whether you need something classy, relaxed, or just plain delicious to go with your BBQ, I’ve got you covered with this collection of drinks and recipes. Featuring Georgian Bay Spirit Co., Leinenkugel Lemon Shandy, Strongbow, Star of Bombay, Sipsmith, Spirit of York, and Miller High Life.

You can find all of the spirits, liqueurs and beer below at the LCBO in Ontario.

Georgian Bay Vodka and Georgian Bay Gin

The Georgian Bay Spirit Co. has four great offerings for spring and your long weekend. The Ontario-based distillery is home to the award-winning Georgian Bay Vodka and Georgian Bay Gin, not to mention the LCBO’s most popular cocktails-in-a-can, the Gin Smash and the Vodka Smash.

For our cocktail guide, Georgian Bay offered us a refreshing, unique gin cocktail that you can also order at the Carbon Bar in Toronto.

Front Runner
1.25oz Georgian Bay Gin
1oz Pimms No.1
0.5 Rosemary Syrup
1oz Lemon Juice
Premium Ginger Beer
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Apple and lemon slices

Fill a mason jar with ice and add Georgian Bay Gin, Pimms No. 1, rosemary syrup and lemon juice. Top with ginger beer and add Angostura bitters, stir. Garnish with apple and lemon slices.

Leinenkugel’s Lemon Shandy

Leinenkugel's Lemon Shandy
What better way to get into spring than with Leinenkugel’s Lemon Shandy, which recently arrived in Canada for the first time. South of the border Leinenkugel’s has been popular for years, and the family-run brewery, which has been around for over 150 years, has had to work hard to keep up with demand.

Leinenkugel’s Lemon Shandy combines a traditional weiss beer with natural lemon flavor, and pairs well with BBQ chicken, watermelon and grilled fish. The tart lemon stands out against the malty, sweet flavour of the beer, and finishes dry, with a slight peppery note. It’s also great mixed for fresh spring cocktails.

So what is a shandy? For those who haven’t tried the European drink, a shandy is beer mixed with anything from soda, juice, or ginger ale, and while some put the fruit or sweetness forward, Leinenkugel’s is a beer-forward shandy. It’s a fantastic, different drink for the patio, porch, beach-side, or your next BBQ.

Leinenkugel’s Beermosa
4oz Leinenkugel’s Lemon Shandy
2oz orange juice
2-4oz ice
1oz Hayman’s Sloe Gin or your favorite gin
Blueberries or Raspberries

Pour Leinenkugel’s Lemon Shandy in a glass and add orange juice, and the ice. Top with gin, and garnish with berries.

Strongbow and Strongbow Minis

Strongbow Minis
Strongbow was one of my first great loves, when I started sampling ciders, and for spring and summer they’ve introduced Strongbow Minis, giving you a chance to try their four flavours, so you can pick your favorite.

With over 125 years of brewing experience, Strongbow is the number one cider that’s made with a billion real apples each year. The new Strongbow Minis come in 150 ml trial size, including Strongbow Original Dry, Dark Fruit, Ginger, and the new Dry Pear.

Strongbow Original Dry is balanced and refreshing, and pairs perfectly with mild cheese, like Beaufort. Dark Fruit features blackcurrant notes and an apple finish, and it’s great over ice and served with goat or blue cheese. Ginger is a medium-dry cider that combines apple fruitiness with spicy ginger, and it’s best served on ice with Thai or Caribbean mains. And finally, the new Strongbow Dry Pear is wonderfully mildly sweet, and serves well over ice, and paired with fish, grilled chicken, or creamy pasta.

Strongbow Ginger Berry Crush
Makes 4 drinks

12 thin ginger slices
1/2 cup thinly sliced rhubarb
20 raspberries
4 oz. Vodka
4 cans Strongbow Ginger Cider
4 x 6″ Stalks rhubarb

Muddle 3 slices ginger, 2 tablespoons sliced rhubarb and 5 raspberries in each mason jar or glass. For best results, add 1 oz. of vodka to each glass and steep overnight. Top each glass with ice and a can of Strongbow Ginger Cider and garnish with a rhubarb stalk.

Star of Bombay Gin

Star of Bombay is officially the gin that turned me into a gin lover. The premium-distilled gin features a phenomenal botanical profile that’s made possible by a careful process that allows the alcohol vapors to spend more time with the botanicals that give the gin its flavour. And what better way to celebrate the season than with spring’s quintessential cocktail, the Negroni.

Star of Bombay Negroni
1 oz. Star of Bombay Gin
1 oz. Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino
1 oz. Martini Bitter Liqueur
Orange Wheel

Fill a rocks glass with good ice, and build the ingredients in the glass and stir gently to mix. Garnish with a large orange wheel.

Looking for a simpler Negroni recipe? Simply use equal parts Star of Bombay Gin with Campari and vermouth rosso.

Sipsmith London Dry Gin

Sipsmith Green Eyed Passion
Great gin is all about the botanicals, and with spring gardens starting to rise, it’s a great time to take advantage of all the great herbs for a cocktail that is radiant and delectable.

Distilled in small batches, in copper pot stills, Sipsmith London Dry Gin is incredibly smooth, and vibrant, so what better way to blend it than with an anti-oxidant rich mix of spinach, kale and spirulina?

Sipsmith Green-Eyed Passion
1.25 oz Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3 Cucumber slices
4 to 5 Mint leaves
3 to 4 Kale leaves
A handful of Spinach leaves
1 stem of Coriander
1.25 oz Lime juice
3.5 oz Matcha green tea
1 barspoon Spirulina
1.75 oz Jax Coco Passionfruit
1 barspoon Manuka honey

Shake all ingredients with ice, and double strain into a chilled Coupette. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon.

Miller High Life

Miller High Life
The Champagne of Beer launched in Canada late last year, and now, just in time for summer patio season, they’ve launched their iconic and refreshing beer in glass bottles, which is available at the Beer Store and the LCBO.

Available in six packs, and up, Miller High Life does work in spring cocktails, but if you just need a simple brew for your summer picnic or BBQ, why make things complicated? Just chill and serve, and you’re all set. The crisply tasty beer pairs well with meat, chips, and grilled corn, or just to enjoy on its own while staring out at the lake.

Spirit of York Gin

Spirit Of York GinToronto’s Spirit of York believes that if flavours had colours, gin would be green, thanks in part to the hints of lime or cucumber, and subtle spiciness. Spirit of York gin is fantastic in tonics, and fruit-focused brunch cocktails, but it complements a big range of cocktail styles and flavours.

Bright, and colourful, Spirit of York came up with a unique spin on the spritz that is incredibly simple, but delicious. Try it for your weekend brunch, or under the stars in your back yard.

Gin-Pom Spritz
1.5 oz Spirit of York gin
.5 oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh pomegranate juice

Combine in a tall glass over ice, and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.

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