If the archetypal summer drink seeks to capture the flavors of the season—with its DIY shrubs, elaborate syrups and freshly muddled market finds—the ideal Labor Day cocktail goes for a formula that’s just as refreshing, but way simpler. At five ingredients or fewer, these five cocktails fit that bill, keeping in step with the casual spirit of the weekend while offering a welcome transition out of summer’s dog days.
Take the Baby, You’re Driving from Extra Fancy‘s Rob Krueger, who shakes an easy-to-recall ratio of equal parts vodka, Lillet, grapefruit liqueur and lime and finishes it with a mint bouquet. “The name, of course, implies that this drink is too good to put down,” explains Krueger, “but, in fact, it’s relatively light, so you can safely have a couple without melting away on a hot day.”
Also calling on that surefire formula of equal parts, Paul Calvert of Atlanta’s Ticonderoga Club combines gin, vermouth blanc and vibrant rooibos tea for his riff on rosé, the Pink Rabbit. And Jane Danger reminds us that late-summer drinks can be slightly savory: The Tijuana Rocket shakes together the season’s fresh bell peppers with jalapeño, Reposado tequila and tangy pomegranate molasses, for a golden-hued drink that’s fine-strained into a coupe.
Then there are those drinks that do away with tools altogether: the Chuncho Cooler from Midnight Cowboy can be built directly in the glass. Topped with soda, this light, bright, pour-and-go mix of Chilean pisco, Galliano, lime and ginger is a quintessential end-of-season highball.
Finally, Giuseppe Gallo’s Basilinia, a twist on the Caipirinha that illustrates this notion of minimal effort yielding maximum reward: It only requires three ingredients (muddled basil and lime, plus bianco vermouth) swizzled with crushed ice. Does it get easier than that?