Often associated with barbecues, blockbusters and a three-day weekend at the beach, Memorial Day has long been the end of May’s beloved holiday, celebrated with food, drink and fun ushering in a summertime state of mind. While we all love a day off of work and a good block party, the origins of such a significant national holiday – one honoring those fallen soldiers who died serving in the military – can be easily overlooked. This year, infuse some extra meaning and gratitude into your Memorial Day get-together by serving a patriotic tonic well able to inspire a toast of remembrance. Here’s a recipe and a little history to make your Memorial Day celebration both delicious and decidedly honorable.
Memorial Day Patriotic Tonic
- 4 Tonic water ice cubes
- 3 oz. Dry Gin
- 4 oz. Tonic water
- 3 strawberries, quartered
- 8 blueberries
- 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- a sprig of mint
- festive straws
Prepare the ice cubes: Fill an empty ice cube tray with tonic water and let the cubes freeze. It will take just a few hours. Covered well, the cubes will remain fresh-tasting in the freezer for at least a few weeks.
Prepare the cocktail: Alternate placing pieces of fruit and ice cubes in a narrow glass. Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice. Stirring well, but carefully to not damage the fruit. Garnish with a sprig of mint and fun straws. Serve immediately.
Prepare the toast: The Day’s beginnings date all the way back to May of 1868, when Union General John A. Logan declared a “Decoration Day” to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Its name was changed to “Memorial Day” 20 years later and in 1950 its meaning was expounded upon by Congress when they passed a resolution requesting the President issue a proclamation asking Americans to observe Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. 21 years later, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and occasion to honor the men and women who died in all wars, and in 2000, a “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed, asking all Americans (at 3 p.m. local time) to voluntarily and in their own way observe a Moment of remembrance and respect. Rightfully honoring such a serious subject need not be always be somber, instead try coming together to offer a toast of gratitude for the fallens’ service and hope for a peaceful future.