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6 to-go cocktails for your Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta

A variety of margaritas from El Ponce. CONTRIBUTED BY TWO2VERSIONS
A variety of margaritas from El Ponce. CONTRIBUTED BY TWO2VERSIONS

Take advantage of metro Atlanta’s relaxed rules  for takeout beverages with these pre-mixed drinks.

This year’s Memorial Day holiday occurs at a strange time for Georgia. Many businesses have been allowed to reopen, but citizens are still encouraged to abide by social distancing rules and follow enhanced safety measures. Restaurants are permitted to resume dine-in service, but vestiges of the lockdown remain. One of those is the relaxed rule on takeout alcohol, which allows restaurants to sell beer, wine and pre-mixed, to-go cocktails.

Memorial Day tends to be an outdoor holiday weekend when people enjoy warm weather and open-air activities like hiking, boating and grilling. Luckily, many of those activities can be enjoyed while observing safety guidelines meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Though many traditional Memorial Day events like baseball games and concerts aren’t possible during the coronavirus pandemic, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the early summer holiday, cocktail in hand. These Atlanta restaurants are offering excellent cocktails to go, so take advantage of them while you can. After all, things could be back to so-called “normal” next Memorial Day, and you may find yourself wishing you could order more takeout margaritas by the gallon.

The large hibiscus margarita from El Ponce is the equivalent of six individual cocktails. COURTESY OF EL PONCE
The large hibiscus margarita from El Ponce is the equivalent of six individual cocktails. COURTESY OF EL PONCE

El Ponce - Hibiscus Margarita

With its vivid, deeply-saturated red color, the hibiscus margarita from El Ponce is a thing of beauty even before you taste it. Then, the flavor exceeds the looks. Hibiscus is the perfect foundation for a summer drink - a little on the earthy side of floral, a bit tart, it has a complex flavor that plays well with alcohol, and benefits from some sweetness. Hibiscus pods also happen to naturally carry electrolytes, so they help the body hydrate like a sports drink (though those benefits obviously are offset by the alcohol in a margarita). The hibiscus margarita from El Ponce employs the tropical flower beautifully: not too sweet, not too tart, with no single element overpowering the rest. It's balanced and relentlessly drinkable, exactly the way a great summer cocktail should be. That drinkability can cause problems, not the least of which is that they seem to run out extremely fast. If you plan to get this batched cocktail ahead of Memorial Day weekend, double your order. Order online at elponce.com.

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Cooks & Soldiers - Blind Tiger Cocktail Kit

For all the do-it-yourself-ers who may have run out of projects over Memorial Day weekend, a cocktail kit is a lovely antidote. Basque restaurant Cooks & Soldiers is selling a deceptively simple kit for a refreshing cocktail.The ingredients, which include gin and maple syrup, may not seem like those in a typical summer porch-pounder, but the end product balances tart and sweet flavors with crisp bubbles on top. If you don't have a cocktail shaker or jigger, just mix together all of the ingredients and divide them between four glasses - the Cooks & Soldiers bar team measures each component ahead of time with professional precision. As a bonus, you'll likely have some leftover cava to finish while you dream up your next project. Order online at cooksandsoliders.com.

Wood’s Chapel - Frosé Half Gallon

It may be time to induct frosé into the portmanteau hall of fame, placing it in the pantheon with brunch, shopaholic and hangry. At this point, the frozen rose wine concoction appears on enough menus that it's less a novelty and closer to a summer staple. The team behind Rye Restaurants, which includes Wood's Chapel BBQ, the General Muir and the Canteen food hall, has hit upon a winning frosé recipe that pops up at a couple of the group's locations. Now, their frosé is available in bulk from Summerhill-based Wood's Chapel BBQ, where they sell $32 half-gallons for takeout. Frosé to go is a drink that's begging to be taken on an adventure. It would freeze solid at freezer temperatures and melt in a refrigerator, so there's no better way to store it than in a cooler filled with ice. The tart, just-barely-sweetened frosé isn't something you can easily make at home either, so it's the perfect outdoor special occasion drink. Order online at woodschapelbbq.com.

Chiringa - Margaritas by the Gallon

While other restaurants might adjust their vibe on a seasonal basis, Alpharetta City Center's Chiringa lives at the beach all year long. As such, the restaurant is well-prepared for occasions like Memorial Day. This year, the parkside restaurant is going big by selling their signature margaritas pre-mixed by the gallon. Be prepared for some sticker shock. Chiringa's signature Ringa Rita is $175 per gallon. A gallon makes 20-25 servings, so the cost per cocktail is about $7. And this is a solid margarita made with organic tequila, Grand Marnier, agave syrup and fresh lime, lemon and orange juices. Like any good beach party host, Chiringa has more cocktail choices available, including a less expensive Campo Margarita, as well as sangria, Island Lemonade and a vodka-grapefruit combo called the Sand Wedge. Order online at chiringa.com.

Make dinner a fiesta with 32-ounce, ready-made cocktails from Porch Light Latin Kitchen. The restaurant offers three to four cocktails each day. Each quart is $18. LIGAYA FIGUERAS/LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Make dinner a fiesta with 32-ounce, ready-made cocktails from Porch Light Latin Kitchen. The restaurant offers three to four cocktails each day. Each quart is $18. LIGAYA FIGUERAS/LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM

Porch Light Latin Kitchen - Rum Porch Pounder

In the hot and humid South, the porch is a symbol of rest, relaxation and impromptu get-togethers. That association has no doubt helped propel Smyrna's Porch Light Latin Kitchen and its chef-owner Andre Gomez. The restaurant's Rum Porch Pounder cocktail, sold by the quart, is an excellent marriage of refreshment and tropical flavors from Gomez's native Puerto Rico. It includes white, dark and spiced rum with sweetness and a little bite from guava and pineapple juices. Supplies for this dangerously drinkable cocktail are limited each day, so get your order in before the weekend rush. View the daily menu on the restaurant's Facebook and Instagram (@porch_light_latin_kitchen) pages, and order between 1-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays by calling one of the restaurant's three phone lines: 768-309-9858, 787-671-2429, and 470-314-6624.

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Kimball House - Whiskey Smash

If you're going to order takeout cocktails for Memorial Day, consider buying from a national finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. For the last two months, Decatur's Kimball House has transformed into the takeout-only Kimball Home, offering food and beverages to-go. That includes pre-mixed cocktails from the acclaimed bar program, including some in a large format that serves four. One of those cocktails is the Whiskey Smash, a bourbon-based drink that includes mint, honey and a citrusy bite from both lemon and bergamot. One order includes four drinks for $42. A $6 bag of cocktail ice will ensure that your drinks are perfectly chilled. Order online at kimball-house.com.

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