The bright and batchable cocktail comes from Atlanta-based chef Todd Richards's new book, Soul.
Strawberry-Rum Coolers
Credit: Greg DuPree

As the unofficial kickoff to summer, Memorial Day weekend is one of the best excuses to celebrate that I know. Summer is my favorite season by a long shot: Between all the fresh produce — corn salads and heirloom tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt — the license to eat ice cream every day —even though, as a New Englander, I'm used to eating ice cream with abandon all year long — and the heat — the hotter the better, in my book — to me, there's no better time of year. This year, I plan to be mixing up all kinds of seasonal beverages and expanding my wine horizons beyond rosé (although there will be plenty of that, too). And for Memorial Day weekend, I have my sights set on Atlanta-based chef Todd Richard's strawberry-rum coolers.

The recipe comes from Richards's cookbook, SOUL: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes, which came out on May 22 and is filled with touching stories, family photos and inspiring recipes. As the introduction states, "The message of Soul is that cooks can honor tradition yet be liberated to explore. He celebrates the restorative wonders of a classic pot of Collard Greens with Ham Hocks, yet doesn't shy away from building upon that foundation recipe with his Collard Green Ramen," the recipe that Food & Wine Culinary Director Justin Chapple is most excited to try.

When Richards visited the Food & Wine Test Kitchen this week, he chose to blend up these bright and batchable coolers for a few reasons.

"Strawberry season is at its absolute peak right now in Georgia. They are absolutely unbelievable," Richards told Chapple.

The drink is also really easy to make. You simply cook down strawberries, water, agave, lime juice and ground ginger for about five minutes, and then blend it all together. When Richards pours the rum and bitters in next, he does so straight into the blender to save on dishes. It's about as unfussy as it comes.

Finally, the drink reminds Richards of family memories, particularly of the virgin strawberry daiquiris he would order as a kid on family cruises. "It’s the kind of drink that upon first sip seems to stop the sun’s rays in their tracks and makes the breeze feel somehow cooler. That’s called refreshment," he says in the book.

Check out the book and see the recipe here.

What are you mixing up this weekend? Use the hashtag #howisummer to let us know what you're up to all summer long.