Folks, it’s that time of year again. Yes, it is time to check the propane levels of your gas grill, and it’s most definitely time to wash your favorite player’s basketball jersey and put it away for the year. But for our purposes, I’m talking about spring cleaning cocktail recipes.

This really is one of my favorite times all year. My seasonal craft cocktail recipe posts give me another reason to get in the kitchen (or bar) to challenge myself and try some new drinks. Spring, I particularly love, both as a season, and for cocktails. I feel like with summer cocktails, you just have to make something cold and refreshing, while winter, you’re probably defaulting to something warm and savory. But spring cocktails are a wild card. It allows you to play with some fruits and ingredients that are coming into season that you may not use every day in  your kitchen or home bar, such as blueberries, grapefruit, and pineapple. Thus, I tried to use some of these fruits when making some new cocktails this week.

But enough talking about spring cocktail recipes. Let’s get to it. Find a few of my favorite easy spring cocktail recipes for 2016.

Mint Julep

  • 2 oz. bourbonMint julep cocktail recipe
  • 1 tbsp. simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar)
  • Several sprigs of mint

Alright, so this isn’t one of my own cocktails. But the Mint Julep might as well just be the official (southern) drink of spring. Why, do you ask? Well for starters, more than 120,000 of them are downed in one weekend at one event, the Kentucky Derby. Also, it’s delicious, and is a classic. Need I say more? I’ve previously shared on WTG about the Mint Julep, which is about as southern as sweet tea. However, today I’m coming to you with the official version of it from the Kentucky Derby. Traditional examples typically call for a teaspoon of sugar and muddling a few sprigs of mint with it. This Mint Julep recipe, however, calls for a tablespoon of simple syrup, which has been refrigerated for several hours with a few sprigs of fresh mint. You’ll fill a cup with crushed ice, adding a table spoon of syrup and the bourbon, and stirring rapidly to frost the outside of the glass. Garnish with a mint and voila, that’s it!

Blueberry Mojito

  • 2 oz. light rumBlueberry Mojito
  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar
  • Several mint leaves
  • 5-8 blueberries
  • Club soda

You really replace “blueberry” with just about any berry fruit and it’s going to make a nice fruity addition to the mojito, which is one of my favorite classic rum cocktails.I use blueberries here largely in part because it’s the season for them. When done right, using fresh ingredients, this is a really solid cocktail come spring and summer. Many mojito recipes call for simple syrup, though I like using superfine sugar since it captures the essence of the original mojito. You’ll crush the mint and sugar at the bottom of a glass to release the oils before adding lime juice and stirring. Add rum and stir again before topping with club soda and some blueberries and mint for garnish.

Gin-Gin Pimm’s

  • 2 oz. Pimm’sPimm's cup cocktail
  • .5 oz. gin
  • .75 oz. lemon juice
  • .75. oz. agave
  • Ginger beer
  • Optional for garnish: Strawberries, cucumber, basil

So this marries one of my favorite summer bbq punches (Pimm’s) with one of my new favorite spirits (gin), and perhaps my favorite of these easy spring cocktail recipes. What I love about Pimm’s (the one above from Searsucker in San Diego) is that it’s one of the oldest, yet most versatile spirits (officially a liqueur), but with far less alcohol than your everyday spirit. So you can really add sweeteners, fruits, and vegetables to taste as you’re making it. In other words, it’s a great big batch drink. While Pimm’s No. 1 is already gin-based, I decided to go next level and add some more gin. With spring being so floral, and gin similarly so floral, it seemed like the right thing to do. You’ll mix all the ingredients together (except the ginger beer) in a glass with ice before topping with an ounce or two of ginger beer. Then add slices of your favorite fruit and herbs.

Campari Margarita

  • 2 oz. tequilaCampari Margarita cocktail
  • .5 oz. Campari
  • .75 oz. orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • .25 oz. agave
  • Sparkling grapefruit juice

This may be one of my favorite cocktails I’ve made, in part because it takes a beloved cocktail and throws some challenging ingredients to it like Campari and sparkling grapefruit juice. I’ve started experimenting more with challenging flavors, and this was a great example. However, you may want to play with the flavors and quantities. For example, if you don’t usually have a sweetener in your margarita (like traditional margaritas), then you may want to completely take out the agave. And if you love Campari, then you may want to amp up the flavor of that. I don’t naturally gravitate to bitter flavors like Campari, so I lessened the flavor of it. Otherwise, it’s an easy cocktail to make. You’ll simply add all of the ingredients (except the sparking grapefruit juice) to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with sparkling grapefruit juice.

Pinamezcalada

  • 1.5 oz. mezcalIMG_2055
  • .5 oz. Campari
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. agave
  • .5 oz. pineapple juice

I had no idea what to call this, so since “Pina Colada” simply means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, and since mezcal is much more Spanish than rum, I decided on Pinamezcalada. This continues with that trend of creating craft cocktails that use interesting flavors. The spring flavor for this is pineapple, which most people probably picture in rum cocktails, and nothing else. But let’s live on the edge, shall we? You’ll add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain it into a rocks glass filled with ice and if you’re feeling saucy, garnish with a small piece of pineapple.