I have a pitcher of watermelon juice in my refrigerator right now that my son made by simply pureeing fresh watermelon cubes with a stick blender and then straining the juice to get the pulp out. He uses the juice to make a non-alcoholic version of my Watermelon Ginger Fizz. I'll be using the literal fruits of his labor to make some cocktails this Labor Day weekend.

With that in mind, I have some cocktail recipes to share. The first two pay homage to summer by using fresh watermelon juice while the final one ushers in September with pear. All of them will add a fresh flair to your Labor Day imbibing. I've also added a few substitution suggestions in case you don't have certain ingredients or tools on hand.

Watermelon Cosmo

If you don't have the agave nectar needed for this recipe, substitute 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. Agave is sweeter than sugar so you might need a little more simple syrup to get the balance of sweetness right. I wouldn't be too concerned about not having watermelon-infused vodka if you don't have time to make it; regular vodka will work just fine. The fresh watermelon juice should give it enough watermelon flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces fresh watermelon juice
  • 1 ounce watermelon-infused vodka
  • 1 dash lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1 slice lime

Directions

  1. Add ingredients and ice into cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake and strain into martini and garnish with a lime slice and small pieces of watermelon.

Recipe courtesy of celebrity caterer Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs.

The Weekender

Another watermelon-inspired cocktail, but this is less sweet than the first one. Personally, I'm not fond of fennel, and it can definitely be omitted, but if you love fennel and have it on hand, garnish to your heart's delight. And, if you don't have a bar spoon, a teaspoon will work for measuring the watermelon juice.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka, such as New Amsterdam
  • 1 ounce St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 bar spoons watermelon juice
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Fresh fennel, for garnish

Directions

  1. Add drink ingredients into an ice-filled shaker.
  2. Shake vigorously. Uncap shaker, and add club soda.
  3. Strain mixture into an ice-filled highball glass, and garnish with fresh fennel.

Recipe courtesy of New Amsterdam Spirits.

Corinthian Summer

This cocktail uses pear. Pears are a late summer fruit that will last into fall, and I see this as a great cocktail for regions that are experiencing cooler temps this holiday weekend. Very Special Old Pale (VSOP) cognac is a blended cognac where the youngest cognac in the blend must be at least four years old. If you have a VSOP on hand, use it. If not, try your favorite good cognac. Just don't use your great cognac; the great cognac is for sipping neat, not for cocktail mixing!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 parts VSOP cognac such as Bache Pure & Rustic VSOP
  • 1 to 1 1/4 parts raisin syrup (simple syrup made with raisins)
  • 3/4 part lemon juice
  • 1/4 fresh pear
  • 5-6 green grapes

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into a shaker and muddle together, really smashing up the pear and grapes.
  2. Fill shaker with ice, shake and strain into a martini glass.

Recipe courtesy of Bache-Gabrielsen cognac.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.