Whether propped up in a beach chair or simply propped up at home for the long weekend, these colorful cocktails from Joy Wilson's new cookbook are a sure-fire way to kick summer sipping into high gear. 

By Chandler Stroman

Holiday weekends call for cocktails, cocktails, and yes, more cocktails. Boozy, big-batch cocktails, pretty-in-pink punches, summertime sangrias—you name it.

California girl turned New Orleans blogger, food guru, and cookbook author Joy Wilson, or Joy the Baker, knows a thing or two about cocktails. After chatting with Joy about her new cookbook, Over Easy, we discovered we were on the same page about well, a lot of things, but one thing in particular: Cocktails are the key ingredient in the making of a feel-good, long and lazy weekend. And they're even better if paired with a pile of bacon and a tall stack of pancakes. 

Scroll on to meet wildly talented (and quick whited) Joy the Baker and steal a few boozy brunch recipes from her new book. 

What inspired you to write the new cookbook, Over Easy—something a little different from the “everyone loves dessert” philosophy your other cookbooks embrace?

I wanted to find a way to celebrate my love of sweet and savory combinations and brunch seemed like the perfect meal. There’s nothing like roasted potatoes and salty bacon followed by a big stack of pancakes.

Do you have a favorite recipe in the new cookbook?

I love all of the boozy punches and cocktails. 

Can you give us one tip for serving up a big brunch for a crowd at the beach? 

Set yourself up for success by making a few things ahead of time! No one needs to lose any beauty sleep. Quiche is great to make ahead of time because it can be served re-heated or chilled. I also love to make fresh beignets with dough that’s been rested overnight in the refrigerator.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot? 

Anywhere with a warm beach, easy waves, and fruity cocktails please!

What’s your idea of the best crowd-friendly cocktail? 

I absolutely LOVE a big bowl of boozy punch. I think they’re the perfect combination of kitchy and chic. A fruity, sparkling, boozy punch served with a beautiful, fruit-studded ice ring is a show stopper. It’s also really easy to throw together, but no one has to know.

How do you deal with baking in humidity?

Pretty simple. Crank up the air conditioning and get to it. You might need slightly less buttermilk and more quality time in the refrigerator for things like all-butter pie crusts ... but really, it’s the heat that can wilt you. Again, crank the air conditioning and get to it.

What do you miss the most about living by the beach? You moved to New Orleans from coastal California, right?

I miss the sound of the ocean, steady and constant. I also miss the salty air and the relaxed rhythm living near the beach added to my life.

What’s the one thing you should always pack for a picnic? 

My go-to picnic food is a BLT Sandwich on well toasted sourdough bread. I also love to pack fresh cherries, a bottle of rose, and dark chocolate. Ice packs are essential. It’s such a luxury to have chilled wine on a picnic.

Can you tell us the next stop on your bucket list? 

I’ve never been to Paris and it’s next on my bucket list!  

Do you have an all-time favorite brunch spot?

Balthazar, NYC 

What’s your favorite part about life in NOLA?

The music in the streets and the Pimm’s cups in August.

 

Keep scrolling for three of Joy's favorite perfect-for-the-long-weekend cocktails... 

Strawberry, Grapefruit, and Chamomile Brunch Punch

SERVES 10 TO 12

Punch can be a rather simple, low-brow, and delicious affair that celebrates juice and mounds of sweet sherbet (Orange Sherbet Mimosa Punch, page 27), or it can be a more high-brow beverage of floral tea and bourbon. This summery, bright punch is feminine and sweet, but it’s no wilting flower, thanks to a proper dose of bourbon. And really, if you’re going to make a beauty of a punch, an ice mold decorated with frozen fruit and flowers is very fitting.

CHAMOMILE SYRUP

3 cups water
2 1 ⁄ 2 cups sugar
8 chamomile tea bags

PUNCH

4 cups fresh grapefruit juice
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 cups bourbon
A few good dashes of bitters
Ice cubes or an ice mold, for serving
Fresh chamomile flowers, for garnish (optional)

1. FOR THE CHAMOMILE SYRUP: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the tea bags, and stir. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags and discard. Refrigerate until room temperature or chilled, at least 1 hour.

2. FOR THE PUNCH: In a blender, combine the grapefruit juice and half of the strawberries. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large punch bowl. Add the chamomile syrup, bourbon, and bitters. Add the remaining strawberry slices and ice.

3. To serve, put a few ice cubes into serving cups, garnish with fresh flowers, if available, and ladle the punch into glasses.

Peach and Orange Paloma

SERVES 4

½ teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to rim the glasses
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 ripe peach, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 ounces silver tequila
Club soda, chilled
Orange, peach, and lime slices, for garnish
Ice

  1. In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, salt, and sugar. Using your fingers, work the zest into the salt and sugar until the mixture is fragrant. Place on a shallow plate.
  2. Coat the rim of four glasses with lime juice. Gently dip the rim of each glass into the salt mixture and set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the lime juice, the orange juice, and the peach chunks. Blend until relatively smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a fine-mesh strainer placed over a medium bowl. Press the peach pulp through the strainer, leaving behind any large pulp and peach skin pieces.
  4. Fill each of the prepared glasses with ice. Pour 2 ounces of tequila into each glass. Top with ½ cup of the juice mixture. Top with club soda, and stir. Garnish with fruit slices, and serve.

Watermelon Mint Sangria

SERVES 6 to 8

4 cups fresh watermelon juice
Handful of fresh mint leaves and stems
1 bottle (750ml) dry rose wine
1 cup vodka
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ cup orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1 lime, sliced into rounds
16 to 20 watermelon balls
Ice (optional)

  1. Put the watermelon juice in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Add the mint and muddle slightly to release the flavor. Stir in the wine, vodka, orange juice, and orange liqueur.
  2. Add the orange slices, lime slices, and watermelon balls. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve over ice, if you’d like it extra cold.

 

Credit: From Over Easy by Joy Wilson; published by Clarkson Potter. Copyright ©2017 Joy the Baker, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.