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10 Cocktails from Special Collections to Celebrate Graduation

In honor of the class of 2016’s graduation, we did some digging through a collection in Special Collections to find the perfect celebratory cocktails for our newest Hokie alumni. The collection we pulled from is part of a bartending manual from 1935 and a recipe book from 1944 from a Los Angeles-based bartending school. The drinks inside are timeless—and perfect for graduation parties.

So kick back, celebrate, and enjoy your new status as a Hokie alum!

1) Burgundy Punch

Throwing your own graduation party? Make it less stressful on yourself (after all, you just survived finals) and go with a punch so you can serve a crowd without much effort. This Burgundy Punch serves 14, and is sure to be a crowdpleaser.

2) Champagne Cocktail

What celebration is complete without champagne? Even if you’re going with André, the champagne of choice for us college students, this drink looks fancy. It even contains Angostura Bitters, a necessity for any bartender, so might as well get that professional bar cart started now that you’re becoming a real adult.

This drink calls for a lemon peel, and believe it or not, there is a right way to make one, according to the bartending guide.

3) Champagne Punch

If you’re feeling especially generous, you can try a champagne punch for 12. As an added bonus, there are plenty of other tasty ingredients in this punch to fancy it up if you’re still using André.

4) Cuba Libre

With a name so smooth, you already know the drink is good.

5) Dr. Funk

Graduation is a good excuse to try drinks with strange names. Give this Dr. Funk recipe a go if you’re a fan of fruity drinks and gin.

6) Honolulu Fizz

There’s not much to this drink, which is good. Less ingredients means less time behind the bar and more time celebrating with your friends and family.

7) Perfect Cocktail

Really, the name says it all. This one also calls for a lemon peel, so see the peel instructions found with the Champagne Cocktail (#2).

8) Southern Cooler

Simple but refreshing—exactly what you’ll want after sitting in the sun for a couple of hours in Lane Stadium.

9) Waikiki Cocktail

You just made your way through college, so you’re probably feeling on top of the world right now. If you’re feeling extra brave though, you can try a splash of egg white in this drink. It’s a little different than your average TOTS rail, but now’s the time to live large.

10) Tequila Sour (Tropical)

Finally, for our tenth drink, a tiki. Tiki drinks saw their rise in the 40s and 50s, but this bartending recipe book was far ahead of its time. So far ahead, in fact, they had explicit instructions in the manual not to let these recipes out.

If the drinks were so good their ingredients had to be safeguarded, it’s probably fair to say this will be a drink worthy of toasting to your graduation.

Bonus: Lemonade

You might want a something sweet, minus the alcohol. You can’t go wrong with some old fashioned lemonade. Plus, the homemade stuff is always much better than anything in stores—so worth the added effort.

If you’re a fan of this collection, you can stop by Special Collections to see more. Located on the first floor of Newman Library, Special Collections has 16 collections related to cocktail history—and at least 100 books about the topic.

Our featured collection here, however, is the only one that has unpublished bartending manuals, so it’s kind of a big deal—sort of like our Hokie grads.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Please enjoy and celebrate responsibly.

Written by Erica Corder, a senior majoring in political science and English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and a graduate of the Class of 2016.