Garden Party Cocktails

We asked four of KC's expert mixologists to dream up summery cocktails inspired by fruit and the botanical bounty of a green garden. The resulting libations — call them garden 'tails — are as pretty as they are refreshing.

The Pocket Square

The Jacobson recently introduced its new seasonal cocktail menu, and it's full of refreshing concoctions like The Tryst, made with citrus vodka, bruléed lemons, basil and house lemon cordial; and a Jalisco Peach with tequila, mescal, lime, agave nectar and house-made serrano pepper and peach puree. So it was a no-brainer to tap Graham for our fruit-based summer cocktail assignment. He acquitted himself beautifully with this sweet-tart drink, which highlights ingredients such as grapefruit with a dash of rhubarb bitters.



(makes one cocktail)

2 ounces  Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka

3/4 ounce  lime juice

3/4 ounce  lemon juice

3/4 ounce  simple syrup

1 1/2 ounces  fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

2 dashes of rhubarb bitters

1/2 ounce  St. Germain elderflower liquer

Sage leaves for garnish

Grapefruit wedge for garnish


Directions for the Cocktail

Combine the first six liquid ingredients. Lightly shake in a cocktail shaker and then top with St. Germain. Serve in a Mason jar and garnish with a sage leaf and grapefruit wedge. 



Black Knight

   If Mariscal has a trademark, it’s creating farmers' market- inspired drinks crafted from savory local produce such as beets, carrots, butternut squash, cucumbers and sweet corn. This is perhaps no surprise given that the California native once worked at the Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse that started the whole farm-to-table craze decades ago. Here he mixes up a Black Knight flavored with lemons, blackberries and sage.



(Makes one cocktail)

1 ounce blackberry balsamic gastrique (recipe below)

½ ounce spicy ginger syrup

¾ ounce lemon juice

1 ¾ ounces rye

¾ ounce Amaro Montenegro

5 sage leaves

Sparkling water to top


Directions for the Cocktail

Combine all ingredients except sparkling water and one sage leaf into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a Collins glass and add ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with a blackberry and sage leaf. 


For the blackberry gastrique

550 grams blackberries

950 grams balsamic

700 grams sugar


Add blackberries to a sauce pan and mash with potato masher. Add balsamic and sugar and cook down on medium heat until mixture has reduced by one-third.



Sake Tu Mi

   Mermis may be young, at 24, but she’s trained with some of the best in the business in New York City at Peels, Freeman’s NYC and Tijuana Picnic. Recently returned to her native KC, she’s launched a custom cocktail catering service, The Garnish Co. One of her recent libations features fresh cantaloupe, white rum and toasted black pepper syrup for kick. For 435 Magazine, she has created a refreshing Sake Tu Mi featuring limes, cucumber and jasmine.



(Makes one cocktail)

3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 ounce homemade jasmine syrup (recipe below)

1 ounce cucumber juice (If you can't juice the cucumber, muddle five 1/4-inch slices into your shaker)

1/2 ounce Plymouth Gin

1 ounce floral sake (I used Hakutsuru Superior Junmai Ginjo sake. Any mid-grade sake will be great! )

1 ounce Mineral water

1 English cucumber (they are the juiciest and have best flavor)


Directions for the Cocktail

Combine all ingredients in the shaker, top with a bunch of ice, shake! Pour into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with mineral water. Garnish with a spike of fresh English cucumber.


For the Jasmine syrup

2 ounces Loose-leaf Jasmine tea

2 cups sugar

2 cups hot water 


I like to use loose-leaf jasmine tea from the Chinese Market downtown called The Au Jasmine - Mayflower Brand (it seems to be the most fragrant, and the little red tin is so cool!). But use your favorite brand at the market. Put 2 ounces of loose-leaf tea into equal parts sugar and hot water. Let steep for 30 minutes. 



Latin Preserve

   Andrew Olsen, who oversees the craft cocktail program at the pork-centric new Cleaver & Cork, formerly bartended at the prestigious The Rieger, so his cocktail chops are unquestioned. In fact, Rieger Whiskey is featured in Cleaver & Cork’s signature drink, The Horsefeather, which also includes ginger beer and Angostura bitters. For a garden party sip, he’s created the Latin Preserve, featuring an aromatic orange marmalade with oolong tea, allspice, cinnamon and more.



(Makes one cocktail)

1 ounce Tequila Ocho Plata

1 ounce Barbadillo Fino Sherry

3/4 ounce citron blossom orange marmalade  (see recipe below)

1/2 ounce lemon juice


Directions for the Cocktail

Combine tequila, sherry, lemon juice and marmalade in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, strain in a glass with rocks. Add ice to serving glass, pour, garnish with a lemon wheel and serve.


For the Marmalade

50 grams citron blossom oolong tea

8 cups water

8 cups sugar

8 cinnamon sticks

4 bar spoons of whole juniper berries

4 bar spoons of whole clove

4 bar spoons of whole allspice

Micro-planed zest of 12 oranges

Micro-planed zest of 4 lemons

12 peeled oranges


Combine zest from oranges and lemons with sugar. Let mixture sit for 24 hours.


Blend 12 peeled oranges. Combine cinnamon, juniper, clove, allspice and oolong tea with water and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out all spices and tea. Add blended oranges and zest/sugar mixture. Heat up to rolling boil. Boil until temperature reaches 216-218F.