My DIY Cherry Bitters recipe is featured in the latest issue of House Tonic magazine, along with other “Make Your Own Cocktail Ingredients.” Check it out!
It seems like it’s cool to bash pumpkin spice. Somehow bagging on pumpkin spice drinks gives you hipster/grumpy-old-man street cred? I don’t know, man. Shut your face and pass the pumpkin spice latte, because it is straight-up DELICIOUS and hurray for fall! Would you like some suggested pumpkin cocktail recipes from someone who just said “shut your face?” (I wasn’t talking to you. You are nice. You do not need to shut your face.)
Pumpkin Flip ~ This fall drink is light and fluffy while being bold and spicy at the same time. The light and fluffy comes thanks to the egg-white foam, while the bold and spicy comes from bourbon and allspice liqueur. (PS – also there is pumpkin!)
Spiced Pumpkin Shrub ~ This is not one of those sweet “pumpkin pie in a glass” drinks. A shrub is a syrup made with vinegar, so there’s a little oomph in the cocktail that goes beyond sugar and spice.
Hot Buttered Pumpkin Rum ~ Is it actually cold where you live? It sometimes is here! When that happens, it’s time to cozy up with some warm and spicy buttered rum.
Pumpkin Punch ~ Halloween party drink alert! Made with cinnamon-infused rum and condensed milk, this punch satisfies the sweet and spiced craving that accompanies fall weather without going into cloyingly icky sweet territory.
Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail ~ Bourbon and pumpkin are the stars of this layered cocktail. However, it wouldn’t be complete without the dashes of celery bitters. (You can make DIY celery bitters if you so desire. I think you should.)
Figs are the greatest gift of this not-summer-anymore but also not-feeling-like-fall time. And if you can stop yourself from eating them, take a moment to drink them. Here are some more fun fig cocktails.
Fig Thyme Cocktail ~ A pisco cocktail made with thyme and figs? Don’t mind if I do!
Fall Fig Cocktail ~ Using an Old Fashioned as inspiration, this fall drink adds some balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and orange juice to the bourbon for maximum effect.
Fig Caipirinha ~ A new take on the classic cachaça cocktail, this one adds some ginger ale for autumnal bite.
Greek Awake ~ If riffing on a classic is too basic for you, try this exciting drink. Brandy mixed with homemade coffee-fig elixir. Ooh la la.
There’s definitely a “countdown to fall” feeling in the air, but it’s still summer. And that means access to delicious, ripe fruit. What to do with said fruit? Surprise, surprise … I am going to say: Put it in a cocktail! I grew up with an apricot tree outside my bedroom window, so this particular summer fruit is special to me.
Apricot-Whiskey Smash ~ One of the best ways to use fresh stone fruit in a cocktail is to smash it with some liquor. A little Cointreau and rich simple syrup perk up the apricot flavor, while rye provides the boozy goodness.
Apricot Mojito With Lemon Balm ~ Another good way to have fun with fruit is the Mojito. Lemon balm is an intriguing herb choice that adds another new element to this old favorite.
Peach-Apricot Lillet Fizz ~ Juice those sweet little fruits and let Lillet add some delicate flair to your drink. Garnish with cardamom sugar for a multi-layered cocktail.
It’s That Thyme ~ The bourbon-and-fruit smash gets a gourmet upgrade with thyme, quince paste and a few dashes of orange bitters.
Apricot and Mint Cocktail ~ A nice floral gin and mint accent the fresh flavor of apricots in this backyard sipper.
Though the summer heat is not as intense here as it was just a few weeks ago, I still require cooling cocktails, dammit! Cucumbers are delicious and also [cool as a cucumber joke]. Here are some delightful summer drinks made with cucumbers!
Cucumber Basil Gimlet ~ Delicate and sweet (but not too sweet), this little number is just right for muggy summer nights.
Cucumber Lemon Drop ~ Refreshing and light, this twist on a “girly drink” is something everyone can agree on.
Watermelon-Cucumber Refresher ~ When watermelon and cucumber join forces to cool you down, they’re an unstoppably delicious duo.
Cucumber Mint Tequila Cooler ~ Mint and Cilantro give an herbal boost to cucumber, with a little help from agave and tequila.
Green Machine ~ Honeydew adds a sweet touch to this tequila and cucumber drink.
This little-known classic cocktail is basically a gussied-up Old Fashioned. While the addition of maraschino liqueur makes it a little sweeter than an Old Fashioned, it also gives the drink a funky kick and subtle bitter almond flavor.
Some people like to strain the drink and serve it up (without ice). I don’t. Controversy! Or, you know, personal preference.
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
orange twist for garnish
Put several ice cubes (or one large ice cube) in an Old Fashioned glass. Add other ingredients and stir, then garnish with an orange twist.
If you want to learn how to make up your own cocktails based on the classics, buy the DIY Cocktails book. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the Kindle version for free.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
My basil plants are going nuts, and a person can only make so much pesto. So it’s time for more basil cocktails. Basil is a cocktail-friendly herb, so grab a glass and a handful of basil already!
Cucumber Basil Gimlet ~ This delicate and pleasant gin cocktail is perfect for combating the hot-weather blues.
Basil Julep ~ While we’re basil-ing up the classics, this basil-ified take on the Mint Julep sounds just right for summer.
Basil Lime Cooler ~ A vodka highball with an herbal twist is a great sipper for barbecues and leisurely afternoons by the pool.
Chasing Basil Cocktail ~ Watermelon, cucumber, elderflower liqueur and gin! Need I say more? Get on it.
Basil Beerade ~ It’s like lemonade, only with basil and beer. Sounds good to me.
If blackberry picking isn’t an option for you, go with the frozen kind, which are preserved when ripe. The blackberries in the produce section tend to be sour and unripe, since a ripe blackberry turns to a mushy purple mess quickly.
I actually prefer the DIY variety to commercial blackberry liqueur (aka creme de mure).
DIY Blackberry Liqueur
2 cups blackberries (defrost first, if using frozen)
3/4 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups vodka
1/2-inch piece of lime zest without pith (optional)
1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
In a sealable glass jar, muddle the blackberries and lime zest lightly to release juice and then add brandy and vodka. Seal and shake. Steep for 3 days, then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down to extract juice. Filter through a coffee filter or two layers of cheesecloth.
Add simple syrup to the strained infusion and shake in sealed jar. Let rest for one day before use.
The recipe I developed and posted here was first published on Serious Eats.
Summertime is fruit time. Take advantage of that juicy, sweet summer fruit by smashing it up in a cocktail! Aside from being delicious, it’s a great way to use up fruit that’s a little on the mushy side.
Plum Smash ~ Plum and thyme is a refreshing combination that only gets better when bourbon is involved.
Balsamic Strawberry Smash ~ Balsamic vinegar gives a new dimension to the ordinary strawberry in this fun cocktail.
Fontana Pisco Smash ~ Pisco, red grapes and Reisling = three times the grapes, for three times the fun.
Tequila Peach Smash ~ How can you not want to drink a boozy peach? Answer me that! Sub in another liquor if tequila is not your thing.
Blueberry Smash ~ Blueberry, vodka and St Germain are a match made in heaven.