Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best of 2015: Cocktail Recipes

Here's the last in my Best of 2015 series. We've covered restaurants and food recipes, so that leaves cocktails. Here are 14 favorites (and some variations) from the past year.


Manhattan. Used to be our favorite cocktail was a margarita, then we went through a big gin & tonic phase. Now we're hitting our Manhattan phase, and doing it hardcore. I did a week of posts about the Manhattan in October (see all the recipes in the Ode to the Manhattan post). Of the variations, I like the Black Manhattan and Winter Manhattan a lot. Of course, nothing beats a classic Manhattan (variation #2 is my current preferred formula).

Vieux Carré. The Vieux Carré is a like a "fancy" Manhattan. It has that drink's usual ingredients but then tarts it up with cognac, Benedictine liqueur and Peychaud's bitters (the bitters best-known as an ingredient in the Sazerac).

Negroni. If you haven't gotten to know this summer Italian favorite, made with Gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, I definitely recommend you mix some up next summer. It's a classic that's increasingly popular, so much so that it now enjoys its own "week" (courtesy of Imbibe magazine and the Campari company).

Mai Tai. I explored variations on this favorite tiki drink, including an easy way to make homemade orgeat and version made with pineapple, amaretto and Velvet falernum.

Frozen Margaritas. I shared two variations on this classic--one from Booker & Dax bartender Dave Arnold's Liquid Intelligence book, and the other being what I like to make at the beach.

Cocktails by Others

Division Bell
The Division Bell. One of the drinks we enjoyed at Mayahuel, the Mexican-spirits-focused bar in New York's East Village that was our favorite bar experience of 2015. This vibrant drink combines mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur and lime.

Fail Safe. a Death & Co. riff on the Negroni, which pushes the summery drink in a slightly darker direction; made with gin, sloe gin, Aperol, Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao and Angostura bitters.

Richmond Gimlet. Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler's riff on the classic gimlet uses gin, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and mint. Simple, refreshing and tasty.

My Creations

Deluxe Appletini. Bored of the too-sweet appletini? Shake up this more "adult" version with gin, sour apple liqueur, ginger liqueur, sherry, lemon and celery shrub.

Aunt Beru's Blue Milk Brew
Star Wars Day Cocktail: Aunt Beru's Blue Milk Brew. It's pretty much impossible to avoid Star Wars at this moment--whether you're traveling the walking or online world. But if you're still not satiated, mix together this Blue Milk Brew I created to honor Star Wars and Luke Skywalker's Aunt Beru.

Green Tea and Cucumber Gimlet. A smoother version of the simple gin-and-lime classic with a little bitterness from the tea and the cooling freshness of cucumber.

Glacier Cocktail
Glacier Cocktail. The incredible Mendenhall Glacier we saw (and walked on) during our trip to Alaska inspired this frosty blue drink made with white rye whiskey, blue curaçao, green Chartreuse, orange bitters and nutmeg.

A Sage Old Bourbon. Designed for Thanksgiving, this drink draws its inspiration from the savory and sweet flavors of the season, blending bourbon, sherry, blanc vermouth, maple, celery, sage and cranberry.

Christmas Tree cocktail
Christmas Tree Cocktail. I've been playing around with tree-like flavors using rosemary and/or Clear Creek's Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir brandy. With this bourbon and ginger-flavored "Christmas Tree" cocktail, I hit on a combination I really like that evokes the holiday and the tree itself.

Stocking Your Bar

Lastly, I wanted to mention my three-part series on advice for stocking your home bar, which included posts on bottles, equipment/glassware and books on recipes and techniques.

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