Gay drinks, stirred, muddled, shaken or served neat, an essential thirst quenching guide for Pride.
Are you looking to learn how to make the best gay drinks at home?
Our guide to gay cocktails includes information on the history of queer mixed drink trends and tips on how to celebrate Pride using the best bartending skills.
We also share over 10 Pride cocktails you can easily make at home. These quick and easy mixed drink recipes feature a diversity of high quality booze including spirits, artisanal cider, craft beer and fine wine.
We’ve also included a flavourful alcohol free cocktail recipe, perfect for your sober LGBT friends or those looking to pace themselves at Pride!
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History of Gay Drinks
Since the dawn of queer time, members of the LGBT community have had a thirst for sipping gay drinks.
Some of the most popular cocktail bars in the world can be found in gay travel destinations like Toronto, Montreal, New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Savannah, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Los Angeles, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Floripa, Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, Bali, Hamburg, Potsdam, Berlin, Dresden, Cologne, Leipzig, Malaga, Ibiza, Brighton, Belfast and Cardiff.
In our hometown of Toronto, gay bars make up the majority of the appeal of living in or visiting rainbow adorned Church & Wellesley Village. The history of many gay neighbourhoods around the world offer insight into why LGBT folks gather inside their own communities.
Liberal cities in Canada, America and Europe often feature gay neighbourhoods that were created as a means to keep local members of the queer community safe. Long before gay marriage was legalized, members of the LGBT community lacked basic rights to work or adopt without discrimination. Today, these vibrant LGBT communities offer essential queer social service programs, gay bookstores, and friendly drag bars that host the best parties during Pride season.
It’s important to remember the significance of the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City. The demonstration was a turning point in LGBT history, when the police raided a bar in Greenwich Village that was serving gay clientele cocktails.
Classic Gay Drinks
When people think about traditional gay drinks their visions are often unappetizing. Most classic gay cocktails promoted at Pride are overly sweet, feature gimmicky rainbow colours (that I swear never taste great) or are frozen in time as appalling, jiggly Jello shooters. Heaven forbid someone pour you a glass of bottled Rev on ice. Lord give me strength!
Popular Pride cocktails associated with the bar-going gay community include Vodka Redbull (gag), Vodka Cranberry (basic), The Cosmo (thanks Sex and the City) and the 90s favourite Appletini (vom).
Today, the discerning, craft cocktail-loving LGBT community are ripe and ready to elevate the Pride sipping experience. Your life will be forever changed after sipping drinks muddled with local small batch spirits, inventive bitters, homemade syrups and freshly squeezed citrus. Blessed be the day you realize you’ve forgotten what it’s like to chug that slender bottle of chemically enhanced Rev at an after hours nightclub.
Are you a newbie craft cocktail qween looking to mix drinks at home for the first time? We suggest buying one of these excellent cocktail recipe books to familiarize yourself with the basics:
- Cocktails: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks
- Ginspiration: The Best Distilleries, Infusions & Cocktail Recipes
- Michael Jackson Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide
Cocktail Essentials for Pride
Voisey shared, “I always picture rum and tiki cocktails for Pride celebrations. It’s usually so hot and there’s nothing more refreshing than sipping a super cold tiki cocktail filled with crushed ice. Tahitian Tiki fits the whole vibe of Pride festivities too, because they’re usually decked out with over the top garnishes! Everyone can have a different coloured glass or tiki mug and personal metal straw to use throughout the day and night for easy sipping. Another thing about Pride is that it’s more of a marathon than a sprint! You’ve gotta pace yourself. Mix in some lower ABV or zero-proof cocktails throughout so you’re hydrated and can party til the wee hours.”
Voisey added, “For wow factor to impress your friends, play around with butterfly pea flowers and a DIY G&T bar. Stick to a clean and classic tonic like Jack Rudy, so that the spirits and garnishes really do the talking. Infuse a vodka, tequila, or gin with the dried butterfly pea flowers, or even just brew and chill it like a tea. It’ll be this beautiful indigo colour at first. When you serve it, pour over a squeeze of lemon juice or other acidic element like tonic, and watch it shift to a pink hue! Make sure guests have access to a range of fun garnishes and accessories, like fresh herbs, dehydrated citrus wheels, preserved oranges, wild hibiscus flowers, and some cocktail picks and straws.”
Tips For Making the Best Gay Drinks at Pride
Cocktail Emporium’s Voisey offered tips for newbie cocktail lovers looking to mix drinks at home for gay Pride.
- Measure accurately! Use a jigger, no guesstimating. A good cocktail is a balanced cocktail, and you can’t have balance without measuring each element exactly.
- When it’s called for, always use fresh juice. Throw away that little lemon-shaped container, buy a lemon and a citrus juicer, and never look back. You’re welcome!
- Ice is the key ingredient to every cocktail, but is so often taken for granted. The temperature of your drink and the proper dilution matter. This includes the ice you use to stir or shake your drink, and the ice you serve in your drink. Those white ice cubes your fridge makes are going to dilute your cocktail immediately, and sometimes taste funky. Use proper ice trays and store them in airtight containers away from freezer odour.
- Present it nicely. You’ve gone to the work of creating it, so it’d be a shame to stop short when it’s time to serve. Use the right glass style for what you’re drinking. On ice and lengthened with soda or tonic? Use a highball. Stirred and served neat? Coupe. Shaken and poured over ice? Rocks glass. It’s part of the experience and can really elevate it.
Best Bartender Tools & Cocktail Equipment
Before hosting a swanky Gay Pride Cocktail Party you’ll need to ensure you have the best bartender tools and cocktail equipment.
- Cocktail Kit: cocktail kits are the perfect gift for newbie mixology fans as they include basic bartender tools like a jigger, shaker and spoon.
- Cocktail Shaker: a bartenders best friend. Purchase a premium cocktail shaker to muddle or shake up your favourite pink gin cocktails.
- Cocktail Glassware: make sure your bar is stocked with a selection of unique glassware to show off your favourite cocktail creations.
- Hawthorne Strainer: this unique strainer features tightly wound coils and perforated holes. It keeps ice and other large ingredients like lime wedges in your cocktail shaker rather than in the glass.
- Bar Spoons: slender and long bar spoons are a must-have when stirring drinks.
- Bottle Opener: easily open bottles of beer or cider with the flick of your wrist or purchase a corkscrew for fine wine.
- Pouring Spout: once you’ve opened a new bottle of gin insert these affordable pourers to make cocktail assembly a breeze.
- Cutting Board: purchase a petite cutting board for your bar to slice garnishes or citrus wedges like lime, orange, lemon or grapefruit.
- Ice Bucket: chill bottles of gin quickly in an ice bucket or keep by the bar when muddling gin mixers into cool creations.
- Ice Crusher: fans of the Mint Julep love an ice crusher.
- Ice Cube Kit: we suggest purchasing a selection of ice cube trays. Silicone styles are our favourite as they’re easy to clean and are available in various shapes and sizes.
- Jigger: use a jigger to accurately measure spirits, juices, syrups and shrubs.
- Juicer: invest in an electronic juicer or buy an affordable hand-held to easily juice fresh citrus like lemons and limes.
- Muddler: fans of the Mojito love a sturdy muddler to mix mint and lime. Muddler’s are handy for any cocktail featuring ingredients that need a pounding like fresh herbs or citrus wedges.
- Citrus Peeler & Zester: adorn your craft cocktails with a thick citrus peel or finer ribbons of lime or lemon zest.
- Rimmer: Bloody Mary and Caesar lovers should outfit their bar with a handy rimmer for salting and sugaring glassware.
Best Recipes for Gay Drinks
Our list of best gay Pride cocktails feature recipes for the modern millennial man. You won’t find any rainbow cocktails here! Instead of overly sweet mixed drinks we’ve crafted a list of craft cocktails featuring top shelf spirits, wines, beers and cider.
For locals living in Ontario, we’ve done our best to highlight producers in Niagara, Muskoka, Prince Edward County, Beamsville and beyond! Wherever you are located, do your best to support your hard working local beverage producers when making homemade cocktails.
Absolut has been a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community for years, regularly launching newly designed rainbow bottles in time for Pride month.
A few years ago we mixed and muddled an Absolut Pride bottle with healthy cold pressed juices to create the Absolut Gay Garden Cocktail.
This year we’re splashing into the Absolut Vodka Basil Smash, featuring fresh herbs plucked straight from our backyard garden.
The original Basil Smash was crafted by Jörg Meyer of the Lion in Hamburg in 2008. It won the Best New Cocktail that year at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. While the original recipe features gin, it goes smashingly well with Absolut Vodka.
- 1 1/2 oz Absolut Vodka
- 2/3 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/3 oz Simple Syrup
- 15 Basil Leaves
Gently muddle the basil leaves and the lemon juice in a shaker. Add simple syrup and Absolut Vodka and top up with ice. Shake vigorously for 45 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Dillon’s Whisky Sour
The classic Whisky Sour is a gay cocktail favourite for lovers of creamy egg white foam. We’ve sourced quality products from Niagara’s Dillon’s Distillery.
A traditional Whisky Sour cocktail features whisky, lemon juice, sugar, bitters and egg white. You can get creative with your gay cocktails by having a bit of fun with bitters bottles flavours.
Dillon’s is one of Canada’s most famous bitters producers, offering a range that when lined up at a bar looks like a Pride flag. The colourful labels include yellow lemon, purple black currant, red rhubarb, blue wormwood and pink cranberry.
In our refreshing rendition of the classic whisky tipple we’ve included Dillon’s Rye Whisky and classic aromatic bitters. Spritz with fresh lemon wedge and sip slowly.
- 2 oz Dillon’s Rye Whisky
- 0.75 oz lemon juice
- 0.5 oz Simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- 2 dashes Dillon’s Bitters
Combine whisky, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters, egg white and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake for 20 seconds and pour into an ice filled rocks glass.
Hendrick’s Cucumber Lemonade
If you’re in need of a citrus and cucumber induced cool off during a hot summer day add this lovely libation to your Pride cocktail list. Scotland’s most celebrated gin pairs perfectly with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and soda.
- 50ml Hendrick’s Gin
- 20ml Lemon Juice
- 20ml Simple Syrup
- Top with Soda
Combine all ingredients in a glass filled with ice. Lightly stir and serve. Garnish with thinly sliced rounds of cucumber and a lemon wheel.
There’s no better way to cool down on a hot day then by biting into a thick slice of juicy watermelon.
This refreshing vodka cocktail features Absolut Watermelon, fresh watermelon juice, lime juice, simple syrup and orange liqueur.
It’s a fun play on the margarita for those who have a penchant for premium vodka.
- 2 oz Absolut Watermelon
- 1 1/2 oz Watermelon Juice
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
- 1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Vigorously shake for 45 seconds then strain into Collins glass with a salt rim. Garnish with a watermelon slice and lime wheel.
Green Tea Highball
Since we’re already “traveling in Scotland,” why not take the ferry to the Isle of Islay to sample one of the regions most famous Islay whiskies? The Johnnie Walker brand is a blended Scotch produced at Caol Ila Distillery near Port Askaig.
Pick up a bottle of premium Johnnie Walker Black Label and muddle the Asian-inspired sipper Green Tea Highball. This gay cocktail is the perfect fit for health and wellness lovers as it features nutrient rich green tea, lemon, pineapple and fermented kombucha.
- 50ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
- 15ml Green tea syrup
- 10ml Lemon Juice
- 30ml Green Tea or Ginger Kombucha
- 50ml Pineapple juice
- 50ml Chilled soda
Build over fresh ice, briefly stir and garnish with a pineapple leaf or lemongrass spear.
Absolut Lime Mule
The Absolut Lime Mule offers a sweet spin to the iconic Moscow Mule, a perfect cocktail for those who enjoy a pucker pleaser courtesy of zesty ginger beer and freshly squeezed lime.
- 2 oz Absolut Lime
- 4oz Ginger Beer
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz soda water
Add Absolut Lime, Ginger Beer and lime juice to a chilled glass filled with ice. Top with soda water.
The Cavamelon Cooler is spiked with tequila, fresh lime and watermelon juice, simple syrup and bitters. The celebratory pink drink is then finished with a generous glug of sparkling Segura Viudas Brut Cava.
- 1 oz. Tequila
- 1 oz. Watermelon Juice
- 1 oz. Lime
- 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
- 2 dashes Bitters
- Top with Segura Viudas Brut Cava
Place all ingredients into a glass and stir with crushed ice. Top with Segura Viudas Brut Cava and garnish with a watermelon slice.
Cherry Cola Beach Party
Fans of old school Cherry Cola will adore this quick and easy gay cocktail creation, which we suggest enjoying on the beach or cottage dock.
The Cherry Cola Beach Party is perfect for rum lovers keen to stay awake thanks to that caffeine (we’re looking at your Coca Cola!) The muddling of coconut-flavoured rum and spiced rum is made perfect with the addition of juicy, freshly plucked cherries.
- 1 oz Malibu Rum
- 1 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
- 0.5 oz Cherry Brandy
- Diet Coke
- Maraschino cherries
Fill a glass with ice and add Malibu, Captain Morgan and Cherry Brandy. Top with an ice cold can of Diet Coke and garnish with a plump Maraschino cherry.
The Kir is a classic French cocktail made with creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped with white wine.
We’ve given the iconic drink an Ontario spin by featuring our favourite Canadian sparkling rose wine. Henry of Pelham’s Cuvee Catherine is our favourite local bubbly, which pairs well with the wineries Vidal Cabernet Icewine.
If you’re not from Ontario, you can mimic this cocktail creation by using your favourite sparkling rose wine. Niagara region is the world’s most famous icewine producer, hosting an annual Icewine Festival each February in Niagara on the Lake. If you can’t seem to snatch a bottle feel free to substitute with a late harvest Riesling, sauternes like Château d’Yquem or a quality Port or Sherry.
- 3 oz Cuvee Catherine Rose Brut
- 1 oz Cabernet-Merlot Icewine
Pour icewine into a champagne glass. Top with sparkling rose wine and garnish with a sliced strawberry.
The Garden East Side
Looking for an alcohol free gay cocktail to celebrate Pride? Or perhaps you’re keen to pace yourself over a long day of celebrations and want to prepare a punch bowl filled with a low-alcohol mixed drink to ensure your guests stay hydrated?
England’s Seedlip is the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit brand. Over the last few years it has emerged as the market leader in the placebo cocktail game. Cocktails muddled with Seedlip are perfect for those who are not drinking alcohol for whatever reason, which in this day and age covers a myriad of moments: when you’re pregnant, on medication, acting as designated driver, at a work lunch, when you have an early start the next day or are simply celebrating sobriety.
I muddled The Garden East Side for my parents and didn’t tell them what was in it. They sipped slowly then voted vodka and gin but were later wildly surprised when they discovered the herbaceous cocktail was alcohol free!
The recipe below is our favourite non-alcoholic cocktail to enjoy at Pride but you can tweak it by adding 2 oz of dry sparkling wine to offer guests a low-alcohol option.
- 2 oz Seedlip Garden 108
- 1 oz fresh lime
- 0.75 oz simple syrup
- 8 mint leaves
Add Seedlip Garden 108, lime, simple syrup and mint leaves to a cocktail shaker and shake until fully combined. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a mint spring.
Pimm’s is a brand of gin-based fruit cup, but is often considered a liqueur. It was first produced in 1823 by James Pimm and has been owned by Diageo since 1997. Its most popular product is Pimm’s No. 1 Cup.
Pimms No. 1 Cup has a dark-brown colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. As a summer long drink, it is also commonly served as Pimm’s cocktail, a drink with “English-style” lemonade (7 Up or Sprite), as well as various chopped garnishes such as apples, cucumber, oranges, lemons, strawberry and mint.
Fermented apple fans will adore our refreshing Pommies Pimms, named after the popular Ontario craft cider producer. It’s the perfect Pride cocktail for those who enjoy herbaceous and spiced slurps.
- 200ml Pimm’s No. 1
- 600ml Pommies Cider
- Mint sprigs
- Sliced cucumber
- Thinly sliced orange
- Sliced strawberries
Add two handfuls of ice to a large punch bowl or glass jug. Fill with Pimms, cider, mint, cucumber, orange and strawberries. Mix with a punch or soup ladle and serve.
Niagara Red Wine Sangria
The popular Spanish punch traditionally consists of red wine, chopped fruit and other spirits such as brandy or schnapps. Classic Sangria recipes feature locally sourced ripe fruits such as peaches, nectarines, berries, apples, pears and citrus.
At one time Niagara region was Ontario’s top producer of peaches, cherries, pears and plums. Today, the stretch of land from Niagara Falls to Beamsville is best known for its award-winning Niagara wineries.
We’ve crafted a local Niagara sangria recipe featuring red wine from Ravine Vineyard and Peach Schnapps from Dillon’s Distillery.
- 750 ml Ravine Sand & Gravel Redcoat
- 4 oz Dillon’s Peach Schnapps
- 4 oz Brandy
- 5 freshly squeezed oranges
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 chopped apple
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
Pour red wine, peach schnapps, brandy and orange juice into a large punch bowl or jug. Stir in apple, berries and sugar. Pour sangria into ice filled wine glasses.
Rosé Lavender Lemonade
This is the perfect gay cocktail if you’re a rosé wine fan looking to enjoy a girly cocktail at Pride.
New Zealand’s Kim Crawford Rose has been shaken with a homemade lavender lemonade that will leave your pretty cheeks puckering for days. We suggest sourcing your edible lavender from a local producer in Norfolk County.
- 8 oz Rosé Wine
- 4 oz lavender lemonade
- 2 oz sparkling water
In a 16 oz glass, combine rosé, lavender lemonade and sparkling water over ice.
Tequila lovers looking for gay cocktails at Pride with a tart grapefruit vibe will find happiness with the Bubly Paloma.
We’ve used quality Cenote Tequila and muddled the mixed drink with freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juice. A wee bit of sugar balances out all that acid and the final glass is topped with a splash of Grapefruit Bubly.
- 1/4 cup Cenote Tequila
- 1/4 cup Grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon Lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup Grapefruit Bubly
Mix tequila, grapefruit, lime and sugar to a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Pour into ice filled glasses and top with Grapefruit Bubly.
Craft beer lovers looking to celebrate at Pride need not stick to just crushing cans. There are plenty of creative craft cocktail recipes that require you to muddle a bottle from your favourite brewery in Vancouver, Kitchener, Muskoka, Barrie, Montreal, Toronto, Edinburgh or Detroit.
Lovers of a hoppy India Pale Ale will find satisfaction with the blissfully bitter Campari IPA.
- 50 ml Campari
- 50 ml Orange juice
- 300 ml IPA craft beer
- Splash San Pellegrino Sparkling Tangerine
- Orange wedge
Add 3 ice cubes to a beer pint glass. Pour in Campari, orange juice, IPA craft beer and splash of San Pellegrino Sparkling Tangerine. Stir and garnish with an orange wedge.
White Wine Mojito
Mojito fans who also like white wine will enjoy this new take on the classic Cuban cocktail.
If you’re entertaining guests at a petite Pride party be sure to prepare the mixed drink just before serving to ensure the fresh mint doesn’t discolour.
- 750 ml bottle White Wine (we used Inniskillin’s Pinot Gris)
- 2 cups Italian Sparkling Lemonade
- 3 limes freshly juiced
- 1 cup fresh mint
Mix the wine, sparkling lemonade and lime juice in a large pitcher. Moments before serving add mint. Garnish glass with slice of lime and sprig of mint.
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Coconut Prickly Pear Margarita
The distillery’s most unique bottle is the Prickly Pear EquineOx, an Alberta barley-based flavoured vodka, highlighting the taste of Prickly Pear Cactus and citrus.
Fix yourself a Coconut Prickly Pear Margarita by muddling Equineox, Cointreau, coconut milk and simple syrup. The boozy beverage also works well as a blended ice drink so feel free to blitz with a few handfuls of ice for a smooth adult slushy.
If you don’t have access to Prickly Pear EquineOx, you can substitute your favourite vodka or gin.
- 1.5 oz Equineox
- 0.5 oz Cointreau
- 1oz Coconut Milk
- 1oz Simple syrup
Add Equineox, Cointreau, coconut milk and simple syrup into a cocktail shake and pour over ice. Serve with a slice of kiwi.
Niagara Whisky Manhattan
Looking to serve gay drinks to the heroic hockey lover? The classic Manhattan enjoys a local spin with this proudly Canadian recipe featuring Wayne Gretzky Estates whiskey from Niagara and Tawse Winery Vermouth and bitters from Beamsville Bench.
Wayne Gretzky Estates produces several craft whisky bottles but our favourite is their Ice Cask Whisky, aged in Niagara Icewine barrels. Nearby Tawse winery produces its own Vermouth and bitters so this Manhattan is proudly homegrown.
- 2oz Wayne Gretzky Ice Cask Whisky
- 1 oz Tawse Vermouth
- 2 dashes Tawse Lemon Bitters
Add whisky, vermouth and bitters to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and mix well. Serve in a rocks glass with a lemon slice and Maraschino cherry.
Irish Cream Coffee
Looking to enjoy gay cocktails in the morning over a homemade Pride brunch?
There’s no better way to wake up to the world then by pouring a whisper of Whisky Irish Cream into your coffee. Feel free to use a bottle of Baileys or make our easy homemade Irish Cream, which we regularly use when frying up Baileys French Toast.
- 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
- 1 oz Irish Cream
Pour freshly brewed coffee into your favourite mug. Top with a whisper or shout of Irish Cream.
The iconic Italian quencher offers a perfect ode to the orange and a lip smacking good time at gay Pride parties.
- 3 oz sparkling wine
- 2 oz Aperol
- 1 oz soda water
Pour Aperol, sparkling wine and soda water into an ice chilled wine glass. Garnish with an orange slice.
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The French Blonde
The French Blonde is my go-to drink when trying to impress someone who says “I don’t really like cocktails I’m more into wine.”
This old school cocktail is best enjoyed on a hot summer day. It’s a gin, St Germain and Lillet muddled juice that brings pure joy!
- 2 oz Grapefruit juice
- 2 oz Lillet Blanc
- 1 oz Gin
- 0.5 oz St. Germain
- 1 oz soda water
In a cocktail shaker add grapefruit juice, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain and your favourite gin. Mix well, pour into a chilled glass and top with a splash of soda water.
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