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Tropical Cocktail Extravaganza + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

It has been a very long time since we’ve brought cocktails to you on Design*Sponge. I credit my work on the Behind the Bar column with a later-in-life curiosity for cocktails. In my home’s dining room, we have an old oval-shaped, two-tiered, wheeled wooden bar cart that is so loaded with bottles of spirits I can’t even roll it! Even with so many different spirits, my go-to cocktail is a gin and tonic with lime. Even still, I’m up for tasting anything that sounds interesting, especially with ginger or citrus.

Because we don’t cover cocktails regularly, I thought I would put together a big post with a collection of four recipes. Two can be made as punches, and two are recipes for individual cocktails. All of them have a tropical profile with a common ingredient: lime. Our featured cocktail experts are Shannon Mustipher, Maggie Hoffman, the Cocktail Bandits, and Megan Krigbaum. Try one to kick off summer and let us know what you think! —Kristina

This week, one lucky reader will also win a cocktail making package! It includes a copy of The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman, Holy Spirits! by Cocktail Bandits, The Essential Cocktail Book by PUNCH and edited by Megan Krigbaum, and  Cocktail Kingdom’s Essential Cocktail Set. The set includes a Seamless Yarai® Mixing Glass (550ml), Hoffman® Barspoon (33.5cm), Japanese Style Jigger 1oz/2oz (30ml/60ml), Set of Koriko® Weighted Shaking Tins, Koriko® Hawthorne Strainer. To enter for a chance to win, just answer the following question in the comments section below: Describe your favorite cocktail or mocktail and what ingredient makes it your favorite. Tell us all about it! Comment entries will close on June 6, at 5PM EST. The winner’s name will be posted in the comments. Open to US residents only. {Image of cocktail set above by Eric Medsker}

About the cocktail experts:

Shannon Mustipher is a spirits educator, cocktail consultant, and expert on the topic of rum and cane spirits. She has poured cocktails in settings ranging from neighborhood pubs to Michelin restaurants, and is a founding member of the Cane Club Collective. Her first cocktail book, Tiki – Modern Tropical Drinks, will be published by Rizzoli in Spring 2019. Find Shannon on Instagram @shannonmustipher.  Shannon’s cocktail is the Parasol (pictured above, by Noah Fecks).

Maggie Hoffman writes about cocktails, wine, and beer for the James Beard Award-winning website Serious Eats, where she founded the drinks section in 2011 and served as managing editor. Hoffman has written for Wine Enthusiast, the San Francisco Chronicle, and San Francisco Magazine, as well as the websites of Saveur, Food & Wine, and others. Maggie recently published the book The One Bottle Cocktail: More than 80 Recipes with Fresh Ingredients and a Single Spirit. Find Maggie online at Instagram @maggiejhoffman and on Twitter @maggiejhoffman.  Maggie’s cocktail is Pineapple-Ginger Daiquiri Punch (pictured below, cover and cocktail images by Kelly Puleio)

Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves, listed among Imbibe Magazine’s “75 People to Watch in 2018,” are the dynamic duo known as Cocktail Bandits. Since launching in 2013, Caldwell and Reaves have hosted the 2017 Saveur Blog Awards and already have collaborations with international brands such as Red Bull, Avion Tequila, Renaissance Hotel and Toyota under their belts. Their first book all about Charleston cocktail culture is called Holy Spirits! Find them on on Twitter @cocktailbandits and Instagram @cocktailbanditsCocktail Bandits’ cocktail is the Gentle Lady Gimlet (pictured below, cover and cocktail images by Jovon Roberts)

Megan Krigbaum is a wine and spirits writer, a contributing editor at PUNCH, and the former deputy wine editor at Food and Wine. There, she wrote a monthly wine column called “Bottle Service,” in addition to regular feature stories pertaining to wine, spirits, and beer. She edited and curated the book by PUNCH, The Essential Cocktail Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Drinks with 150 Recipes. Find Megan on Twitter @mdkrigbaum and on Instagram @mdkrigbaum. The cocktail we have chosen to feature from the Essential Cocktail Book is the Show Me State, by Robert Sachse and PUNCH (pictured below, image by Daniel Krieger)

Tropical Cocktail Extravaganza

Here are four great recipes for your summer entertaining, whether it’s individual cocktails or punch! If you’re choosing to make punch, the recipes recommend very large ice blocks, so be sure to start on the ice-making at least one day in advance.




Parasol (Shannon Mustipher)
Serves 8 as Punch (see below for Single Serving)

This is a very easy — and fun — tropical punch. It is based on a classic rum sour — in this case a lightly aged rum, a sweetener, and fresh lime. I added pineapple juice and banana liqueur – I enjoy Giffard and Tempus Fugit products as they are made from better quality ingredients with minimal sugar, following 19th century recipes adapted from some of the earliest examples of this product.

Alternatives to aged white rum: For a more botanical cocktail, use gin. Bourbon makes for a wonderful tropical julep variation. Passionfruit and elderflower liqueurs with any of the above spirits are delicious as well.

A note about ice: To chill your punch without running the risk of over-diluting it, I suggest making a large ice cube. I have used bundt pans in the past!  You can place garnishes in the water before freezing and they will add bright pops of color to the bowl.


  • 1 L aged white rum – (Shannon prefers Denizen Aged White, Plantation White, or El Dorado 3 year)
  • 500 ml pineapple juice
  • 500 ml honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
  • 500 ml fresh pressed lime (don’t skimp here — canned or pasteurized juice will result in a flat or even bitter drink)
  • 250 ml banana liqueur
  • 500 ml water (for dilution — can adjust according to taste)


To build, combine all but water in a nonreactive container and place in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 6 hours, ideally overnight, before you plan to serve it.

To serve, transfer to a punch bowl and add the rum, followed by half of the water. To gauge whether the level of spirits suits you, taste a few ounces over ice. Bear in mind that the ice will add additional dilution over time. Do not be alarmed if the punch is potent in the beginning. Add the remaining water if desired. Garnish the bowl with lime and lemon wheels, then serve.

Single serving

(There is no honey in the single serving because of the dilution and the expectation that the cocktail will not last as long as a bowl of punch)


  • 2 ounces aged rum
  • 1/2 ounces banana liqueur
  • 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 3/4 ounces lime juice
  • Lime slices for garnish


Combine all ingredients except garnish in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Shake and fine strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel, and then serve.


Pineapple-Ginger Daiquiri Punch (Maggie Hoffman)
Makes 12 drinks

Spicy, fruity, silky, bold: this large-format ginger daiquiri from Tiffany Hernandez of Cosme and Employees Only in New York is worth a little planning ahead, especially because the reward is a party in a punch bowl. Find a ripe pineapple, cube it up, and soak in rum overnight to lend the spirit a rich, juicy flavor.


  • ½ pineapple
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle aged rum
  • 2 ounces hot water
  • 5 ounces undiluted agave nectar
  • 12 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 5 ½ ounces fresh ginger juice (see Note)
  • Garnish: ice block, about 18 lime wheels, 6 orange wheels, and additional pineapple cubes (optional)


At least 24 hours before you plan to serve the punch, fill a Tupperware or cake pan with water and freeze to make an ice block that will fit in your serving vessel, or make several trays of large ice cubes.

Meanwhile, infuse the rum: Peel pineapple half, discard the core, and cut into 2-inch cubes. Place in a large resealable container. Add rum, making sure pineapple is completely covered. Seal and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours. Strain the infused rum through a fine-mesh strainer set over another resealable container, pressing on solids to extract juice. Discard pineapple solids. If not serving right away, refrigerate infused rum for up to 3 days.

Up to 2 hours before serving, stir together the hot water and agave nectar to loosen in a large punch bowl and let cool. Add entire batch pineapple-infused rum, lime juice, and ginger juice and stir until well mixed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate.

When ready to serve, carefully add ice block or ice cubes to large punch bowl. Garnish with 6 lime wheels, orange wheels, and pineapple chunks if desired. Ladle into ice-filled punch glasses and garnish each with a lime wheel.

Note:  If you don’t have a juicer or a friendly local juice shop, you can muddle some chopped ginger or grate it with a Microplane, then press it against a fine-mesh strainer to get the liquid out, or grind your peeled, sliced ginger in a blender or food processor before straining. If you’re making the drink for guests, prep the ginger juice up to 1 hour in advance and store in your fridge.


Gentle Lady Gimlet (Cocktail Bandits)
Serves 1

Our Twist on a classic gin and tonic.


  • 60ml Gin (Cocktail Bandits prefer Bristow)
  • 25ml fresh lime juice
  • 25ml tonic syrup (Cocktail Bandits prefer Alley)
  • Tonic water
  • Cucumber Slices for garnish


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in gin, juice and syrup. Place lid and shake vigorously. Fill a tall glass with ice. Strain cocktail mixture over the ice. Top with tonic water. Take Gentle Lady sips.


Show Me State (The Essential Cocktail Book)
Serves 1

Robert Sachse, Nitecap, New York, NY

Robert Sachse’s Show Me State is named for his home state of Missouri. “It was my first drink on a menu in New York and there was a bit of home-state pride on achieving something after moving here,” says Sachse. What started as a riff on the Jungle Bird, a tiki classic, transformed almost entirely: orange juice replaced pineapple juice, Campari was exchanged for mezcal, and dry curaçao replaced the blackstrap rum, turning the Show Me State into a citrus-driven, smoky frozen cocktail all its own. 


  • 1 1⁄2 ounces dry orange Curaçao
  • 1 1⁄2 ounces orange juice
  • 3⁄4 ounce Mezcal
  • 1⁄2 ounce lime juice
  • 1⁄2 ounce simple syrup
  • Garnish: Lime wheel and a flag of your choice (The recipe in Megan’s book calls for an American flag)


Add all ingredients to a blender with 5 or 6 regular-size ice cubes, cracked. Blend until smooth and pour into a Collins glass. Garnish with a floating lime wheel with an American flag standing ceremoniously on top.

Suggested For You


  • I love to make punches for parties. I’ve always been a rum girl and like to make punches with citrus juices. This year I’ve discovered Campari, which is amazing and makes my punches more sophisticated! I also love to make sangria–I guess it’s not technically a cocktail, but it’s so fun to mix and drink. Last summer I made a new sangria each weekend, and plan to continue doing that this summer!
    Thanks for the recipes; I will try at least one out this weekend! And thanks for the opportunity to win some new barware and cocktail book–that would be great for my new place!

  • I love a less sugary take on a margarita – fresh orange juice, fresh lime, and tequila is all you need.

  • Favorite cocktail is beyond question, the mojito. I tend to like rum drinks, but it’s the mint that really makes it refreshing! The best that I ever had was in Honduras, and the bartender went outside to get fresh mint for the drink. The rum from Honduras is outstanding too, so I’m sure that helped!

  • I like a good Side Car with fresh lemon juice, a Manhattan with a twist using molé bitters works too. Tough one of my fave summer cocktails recently was a rocket Gimlet. Used Big Gin and add a cup of arugula in the shaker. Tasty! For a more subdued version you can also use basil. Summer dinner start — yum!

  • I looove a good amaretto sour. I’m a sucker for anything with egg whites – it makes it so creamy!

  • I love a good gin and tonic! To take it up a notch I add a couple drops of celery bitters and it’s amazing.

  • My favorite cocktail (which I only recently discovered) is a blood orange martini. All it has is the juice from a blood orange and blood orange flavored vodka. It is simple to make, tastes absolutely delicious, and on a hot day it is so refreshing.

  • Lately I’ve been making frosé with the new frosé sorbet from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, white wine, a splash of vodka, a splash of triple sec, fresh lemon and fresh lime juice! The sorbet gives it a little extra kick and it’s the perfect fix for a hot day!

  • My fave cocktail is from a local Sacramento bar called the Shady Lady. The drink is the seasonal Basil Gimlet, it is amazing and made with egg whites, which ALWAYS makes a drink creamy delicious. At home, my go to is almost always a simple vodka and soda, made with some crazy expensive small batch vodka I’ve found.

  • All of these recipes look amazing! My favorite drink of late is the corpse reviver which has gin, vermouth, lemon juice and a splash of absinthe. My favorite gin lately is St. George, and using Lillet blanc makes for a delicious combination.

  • My all-time favorite is a pepito: muddled lime and cucumber with a trace of sugar, Hendrick’s Gin, topped with a spritz of soda water. Garnished with cucumber, of course. I came across this in a nice bar in Eugene, Oregon, which is no longer there. They introduced me to Hendrick’s, which is my all-time favorite gin, softened by rose and cucumber essences. Yum!

  • I’m deeply committed to the balance of spicy and subtle sweetness. I recently had a Thai Gimlet from Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats in Bend, OR and hoping to replicate that at home with the following ingredients: Cucumber, Thai Chili, Gin and Lime. To die for!

  • It’s a toss-up between the aperol spritz and the french 75. I’m clearly a sucker for cocktails that are bright, citrusy and effervescent. Both cocktails are closely followed, however, by the bijou and the corpse reviver no. 2 – the herbal notes in both make them favorites.

  • My favorite drink is A Tap Root. Gin (my current favorite is Restorative), lemon beetroot shrub, soda water, and topped with sliced lemon and ground pepper.

  • I’m a margarita girl all the way, but I don’t make it myself. I make a mean variety of Sangrias and I’m always asked to bring it to the party! It’s the one drink where spirits and wine combine to make one fascinating cool, delicious drink!

  • I love a simple Gin and tonic, but the lime must be fresh and lots of it and the tonic must be bubbly !!!

  • I really like pretty much any cocktail with cynar- but particularly ones with rye whiskey.

  • There’s a Lillet-Basil cocktail from Martha Stewart that I really enjoy on a hot summer day. The Lillet, gin, and fresh-squeezed orange juice are all delightful, but it’s the fresh basil from the garden that really makes this wonderfully refreshing.

  • My favorite cocktail is a Hemingway Daiquiri. I like how the luxardo stands in for simple syrup to give the drink a little bit more complexity.

  • Lilikoi margarita, made with lilikoi (passion fruit) puree. Made even better if you rim the glass with li hing mui powder. This is a must have in Hawaii. The combination of this sweet salty taste makes you longing for a refill.

  • You can’t beat a G&T made with Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. Such a sweet taste of summer!

  • There’s something about a Cucumber Cooler that’s so refreshing. Especially since the weather is getting hotter. I love cucumber as it is but mixing it with vodka, mint leaves, tonic water and lime creates a winning combination.

  • My favorite cocktail is a well made Negroni. I love the taste of Campari. And you can never go wrong with a good gin.

  • The older I get, the more I stick with drinking clear liquor such as fantastic Grey Goose Vodka; it causes less of a hang over the next morning. I love to pour a shot of it into a glass jar along with ice cubes & a San Pellegrino sparkling soda such as ruby red grapefruit, prickly pear or classic lemon. I screw the top on the jar & shake vigorously. When it’s a bit frothy & chilled, I pour it into my favorite glass. Finally, I squeeze half a lime or if Im feeling generous, the juice of the whole citrus into the beverage. Viola, welcome to summer!

    I would adore cocktail books along with proper measuring & mixing apparatuses so I can experiment & fine tune my drink making skills – LOL!

  • My favorite quick cocktail is quite simple. Guava Kombucha, tequilla with a slice of lime.

    Happy Summer!

  • My favorite drink is the Pear of Aces. I use Absolut Pear vodka, St. Germain liqueur, pear nectar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a slice of lemon or pear for garnish. Mixed and poured on the rocks, it’s a delicious and refreshing drink. In the summer, I love mixing some up and sitting outside, under the sun or the stars.

  • A Garden Gimlet! Basil simple syrup,borage, gin, splash of club soda and lime juice. It’s sweet, citrus and refreshing.

  • I love the Moscow mule, I love the ginger beer, so refreshing and love the copper cup!

  • I’m a simple girl and love my home-grown mojito made with pineapple mint from my garden. So refreshing!

  • I love that rosé is back in the spotlight recently, as rosé makes the BEST summery sangrias! Best enjoyed over long conversations with dear friends in a steamy backyard.

  • Army Navy Cocktail. Love how the Orgeat blends with a citrus forward Gin, Lemon Juice and a dash of Bitters.

  • My favorite cocktail is a Singapore Sling. There’s something about the cherry and lime flavors mixing in with all other ingredients that gives it such a nice refreshing feel, especially when it’s served frozen!

  • The perfect summer cocktail for me is Dark N Stormy which is Dark Rum mixed with Ginger Ale and a bit of lime. I like to top it with some strawberries if the weather is good :-)

  • Michele Carvalho, Your Lilikoi Margarita has us all very curious! You are the winner of the Cocktail set and books! Thank you everyone for sharing your delicious sounding cocktails and Mocktails with us!