I haven’t written a cocktail blog in a while, and as I was browsing for ideas, I noticed that I have quite a few recipes saved for cocktails that are particularly bright and lovely colors, and I immediately thought: Rainbow cocktails! I wondered if I could come up with a cocktail for every color in the rainbow. Unfortunately, these recipes do often call for slightly less common ingredients – but perhaps try them out at your local watering hole, and then stock your own bar with the ingredients for a few of your favorites. Here, in ROYGBIV order, is my cocktail rainbow!
Red: Lady Verona
The obvious base for a red drink is cranberry juice, staple of cosmopolitans and many other sweet-tart cocktails. The Lady Verona is a slightly sweeter variation of a cosmo that uses cranapple instead of cranberry juice, lemon instead of lime juice, and maple syrup.
In a shaker over ice, combine 1-1/2 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. triple sec, ½ oz. maple syrup, and ½ cup cranapple juice. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon. Shake just till chilled and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.
Orange: The Bowery
Since I dislike orange juice, the base for an orange-colored drink could be cider or rum. But I opted for my beloved Domaine de Canton for this decidedly non-sweet cocktail.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 2-1/2 oz. Domaine de Canton, the juice of half a lemon, and 2 dashes of bitters. Shake until well chilled and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
Yellow: Lemon Basil Martini
A standard lemon drop martini would have been an easy choice for a yellow cocktail, but I decided to go with a slightly more savory version. The bite of the basil adds a nice complexity to this sweet-tart drink.
Cut a lemon in half and use it moisten the rim of a martini glass. Dip the rim in decorator’s sugar and chill in the freezer until ready to use. Place 4 or 5 fresh basil leaves in a shaker of ice and muddle with the handle of a wooden spoon. Squeeze the juice from both halves of the lemon into the shaker and add 2 oz. vodka, ½ oz. triple sec, and ½ oz. simple syrup. Shake until well chilled. Pour into the prepared glass and garnish with a few basil leaves.
Green: Lime Martini
In fairness, I will admit that the cocktail pictured above used green food coloring to create a more intense hue. However, the Rose's lime juice alone is enough to create a nice, if pale, green color.
In a shaker filled with ice, combine 2-3/4 oz. vanilla vodka (or vodka with a splash of Tuaca), 1-1/4 oz. citrus vodka, 2-1/2 oz. Rose’s lime juice, a splash of simple syrup, and (if desired) a drop or two of green food coloring. Shake well and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Blue: Sweet Tart Martini
Blue curacao is the cause of the lovely ocean-blue color of many cocktails. Nearly any recipe calling for triple sec can be turned blue by substituting blue curacao. This martini recalls the flavor of SweeTart candies by combining the citrus of the curacao with the sweetness of amaretto.
Indigo: Jet Black
This variation of a sweet martini (which differs from a classic martini by combining gin with sweet rather than dry vermouth) adds a hint of licorice in both flavor and color by adding a splash of Sambuca Black.
In a shaker filled with ice, combine 1-1/2 oz. gin, 2 teaspoons sweet vermouth, and 1 teaspoon Sambuca Black. Shake gently and strain into a cocktail glass.
Violet: Purple Dragon
There are a few specialty liqueurs, such as Hypnotiq, which add an impressive purple color to any cocktail. However, a similar effect can be created by combining blue curacao with cranberry (or pomegranate, or raspberry) juice. Like a margarita, a salted rim is standard, but the Purple Dragon can also be served with a sweet rim, if preferred.
Moisten the edge of a martini glass with a few drops of blue curacao and dip the rim in coarse salt. Place glass in freezer until ready to use. In a blender, combine 3 oz. vodka, 1-1/2 oz. cranberry juice, ½ oz. sweet and sour mix, ½ oz. 7-Up (or Sprite), and a few ice cubes. Blend on high for 20-30 seconds. Pour into prepared glass.