These Rainbow Cocktails are Classic Pride, Any Time of Year

Wednesday September 15, 2021
Originally published on September 10, 2021

The original 1978 Pride flag, attributed to San Francisco designer Gilbert Baker, comprised eight colors, including hot pink (signifying sex) and turquoise (signifying art). The modern Progress Pride flag expands the banner's inclusivity with pink, white, and light blue — the colors of the transgender flag — as well as black and brown, to symbolize LGBTQ+ people of color.

In between came the classic Pride banner with its six colors: Sort of the Classic Coke of the LGBTQ+ flag world. We're shaking up some classic Pride Flag colored-cocktails... because after all, no matter where you are it's Happy Hour someplace.

Cosmopolitan (Red)

The Pride flag's red stripe corresponds to life, so what could be more appropriate than mixing some Cosmopolitans in homage to our gay forebears? The drink's exact origins are lost to time, but one recipe dates to the '30s, while another traces its lineage to 1957 Minneapolis. (Yes, we're everywhere.) Provincetown and San Francisco have been historic homes for this cocktail, but in popular culture, it's associated with New York City and the vivacious ladies of "Sex and the City," who tippled these vodka-based drinks on a weekly basis. (Little known fact: Sarah Jessica Parker didn't even like the cocktail until long after the series wrapped.) The libation is enlivened with triple sec and lime juice and infused with its vibrant color thanks to cranberry juice.

Margarita / Old Fashioned (Orange)

The flag's orange stripe signifies healing. What can take the edge off of a rough day better than a good old-fashioned margarita (or just an Old Fashioned)? As with the Cosmopolitan, the origins of the Margarita have been swallowed up in the dry ice mists of time, but one romantic aspect of the myth has it that Prohibition sent Americans South of the border to procure booze. The classic Margarita blends tequila and triple sec (or Cointreau) in a roughly 2:1 ratio, along with another :1 of lime juice. Rim the glass (with salt, that is!) and go to town!

Just as medicinal is the bourbon-based Old Fashioned, a venerable drink dating back to at least the 1880s and probably earlier, making it something of an ur-cocktail. The classic recipe combines sugar (a single cube's worth), a couple of dashes of bitters, and a little water, with the result being served on the rocks and with a slice of orange to garnish.

Mimosa / Diamond Fizz (Yellow)

A key component of the most important meal of the day — brunch, of course — the mimosa is a cheerful yellow, the color that, in the Pride flag, evokes sunlight. And that's what you'll be tasting when you mix sparkling wine and orange juice in a champagne flute! If you want to put an English spin on the classic cocktail, make a Buck's Fizz, a London cocktail invented in 1921 that uses the same ingredients but blends them at a 2:1 ratio of champagne to OJ.

Champagne also provides the happy color of the Diamond Fizz, a gin-based concoction that rounds the drink out with simple syrup and lemon juice. Take a sip and remember what Marilyn always said: Diamonds really are a girl's (or a guy's) best friend, especially the drinkable kind.

Midori Sour (Green)

What could the verdant stripe on the Pride banner stand for, if not for nature? But don't worry — you don't need a green thumb to master this libation. For one thing, there are several ways to make a Midori fizz, so it's one decoction that won't be as temperamental as the average herb garden. Some recipes pair the famed melon liqueur with gin; some call for tequila; others opt for vodka; and still others get classy with white wine. The fizz comes from seltzer, and egg whites are part of the mix as well, in case you could use a little extra protein. If you want a little extra green, add some sliced kiwi, green apple, or both.

Blue Hawaiin (Blue)

From cobalt to teal to turquoise, the various shades of the Blue Hawaiian bring the South Pacific waters of the paradisical island state to mind. The Pride flag's indigo stripe stands for harmony, and a sip of this classic refresher, with its rum, blue curacao, and maybe even a splash of vodka, will definitely bring on a sense of aloha. The drink was invented in 1957 by Hilton Hawaiian Village bartender Harry Yee in Waikiki, so its laid-back credentials are impeccable. Crème of coconut and pineapple juice reinforce the island vibe; for a different side of the same island, try using sour mix (a combination of lemon and/or lime juice and simple syrup) instead of crème of coconut.

Aviation (Violet)

Violet is the Pride flag's color for spirit... and what more appropriate spirit than gin to combine with the crème de violette that lends this cocktail its hue? Lemon juice ensures tartness, countered by maraschino liqueur for additional sweetness. A cherry garnish completes the recipe. A true classic, this cocktail dates back to at least 1916; Wikipedia has it that the drink was first concocted in New York City.