Fancy Free

fancyfreeThis 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.

Fancy Free

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

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

bbqplumcocktailThe grill is already out for summer anyway, so why not grill your cocktail? (Or rather, grill the fruit that goes in the cocktail. No glasses or shakers on the grill!)

I got together with Savvy Housekeeping, and that’s exactly what we did. And it’s delicious … just not in the way that we expected. We thought it would just add a smoky flavor to our drink. But grilling did so much more.

Putting the plum on the grill for a bit deepened the plum’s flavor and brought out the sweetness and brightness of the fruit. We were using nice plums that were a little on the tart side, and the grilling brought out the natural sugars and helped the plum blend better with the other flavors in the cocktail.

So grilling is a nice way to improve slightly tart fruit (and let’s face it, supermarket stone fruits are usually too tart). Have some fruit that is a little disappointing? Get that grill out! It’ll make a great cocktail.

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

1 plum
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce honey liqueur (you can make your own)
1/2 ounce agave nectar (sub simple syrup if needed)
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Cut the plum in half and remove the pit.Grill the plum on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to caramelize and you see grill marks. Turn over and let it cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until the plum is soft. Remove from the grill.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients except the bitters. Muddle the plum thoroughly. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice. Put on the lid and shake for at least a solid minute, or until ice starts to form on the outside of the container. This is especially important if the plum is still hot. You don’t want a warm cocktail.

Strain the drink into a glass. Add a drop or two of Peychaud’s bitters.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Pimm’s Cup

pimmscupThe Pimm’s Cup is one of my favorite warm-weather drinks. It’s quick and easy, but tastes special. It also involves elaborate garnishing, and I do love when my cocktail comes with a snack.

While the recipe is very flexible and the only right way to make one is the way that tastes good to you … there is a wrong way. A lot of recipes say “lemonade” or “sparkling lemonade” because they are English recipes that assume a less-sweet, effervescent lemonade that’s different than what we have here in the States.

American lemonade is not carbonated, and American sparkling lemonade is actually much sweeter and less bubbly than the kind they have overseas. A lot of people therefore make it with 7Up or ginger ale. Go for it, if that’s your thing. But I’ve found 50/50 combo of lemonade (that is, the kind made with just sugar, water and lemons) and club soda makes a refreshing Pimm’s Cup.

This is how I like my Pimm’s Cup. You can adjust by adding more/less club soda/lemonade and garnish with whatever sounds good to you. Traditional choices include: cucumber, strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, mint leaves and borage flowers. The strawberry/cucumber/mint combination is my absolute favorite garnish for this drink both for the flavor it adds to the cocktail and for the refreshing snacking possibilities.

Pimm’s Cup

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (If you can’t find it, make your own Pimm’s!)
3 ounces lemonade
3 ounces club soda
Strawberry and cucumber slices, sprig of mint

Add strawberry slices to a Collins glass filled with ice, then pour the Pimm’s, lemonade and club soda in to taste. Add cucumber and mint for additional garnish.

Pisco Sour

pisco2I love a good Pisco Sour! It’s rich and flavorful while being light and airy at the same time. A wonderful summer drink for people who want something with more to it than a Mojito.

Savvy Housekeeping was kind enough to invite me over for a Pisco Sour party (that involved the two of us drinking Pisco Sours). Could this be your new summer drink? I think so!

(Note: If you are worried about consuming raw egg whites, you can use pasteurized eggs … or make a different drink.)

Pisco Sour
1 1/2 ounces Pisco
3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 egg whites
2 ounces club soda
2 dash bitters

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. Shake for a long time, at least a solid minute. You want to agitate the eggs enough to form a foam. Pour the cocktail into a glass. Add the club soda and top with bitters. To make a design with the bitters, swirl it with a toothpick.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

DIY Irish Cream

20111115-179654-diyvsbuy-irishcream
It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! If you’d rather sip some homemade Irish cream than drink a bunch of green beer, you’re my kind of hypothetical internet person. Baileys is good and all, but DIY Irish cream kicks Baileys’ butt. It’s rich, creamy, and satisfyingly sweet. It’s also as easy as throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender and then drinking it.

When you make it yourself, you can control the flavors. You can taste as you go and adjust, since there’s no steeping or complicated multi-step process. If you want to experiment with flavors, skip the vanilla, almond, and honey to make a base and then add flavors to your heart’s content. Coconut, cinnamon, or more chocolate are good variations. If you want a thick even-more-desserty drink, add up to four eggs in your recipe.

DIY Irish Cream

1 1/4 cups Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
14 ounces condensed sweetened milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon real almond extract
2 tablespoons honey

Pour all ingredients into a blender and blend away! Transfer to sealable glass container and refrigerate for up to two months. Shake before serving.

Photo by Liam Boylan

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats

Little Italy

littleitalyI’m definitely a Cynar lover, so I’ve been on the hunt for more things to do with my bittersweet little pal. Turns out there’s a fantastic Manhattan variation called Little Italy that’s right up my alley. Word on the street is it was created by The Pegu Club in NYC, but seems like it has spread to other bars and become a favorite at-home drink as well. I love Manhattans, but I also adore the herbal kick that Cynar adds to the equation. (I also love an excuse to make my own maraschino cherries.)

Little Italy

2 ounces rye
1/2 ounce Cynar
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Maraschino cherries for garnish

Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Milk Punch

milkpunchAny New Orleans cocktail is going to be good. Milk Punch is great for brunch (very late brunches, since there’s a lot of booze in it!) or cozy evening parties. It’s lightly sweet and has the homey goodness of eggnog in a much lighter drink.

I like it best with bourbon, but brandy is also a traditional choice. It’s even good with blended scotch. For a lighter version, you can use whole milk instead of half and half. (It won’t be as creamy, of course, but the flavor will be just as good.)

Bourbon Milk Punch
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces half and half
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash vanilla extract
Nutmeg for garnish

Shake all ingredients well over ice, then strain into glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg.

Thin Mint Cocktail

thin-mint-cocktailDoes eating a Girl Scout cookie make you think, “I wish this were available as a cocktail?” No matter the answer, I promise you will be delighted with the Thin Mint Cocktail that I made with Savvy Housekeeping. It has all the satisfying chocolate and minty goodness of Thin Mints with the delightful addition of booze.

This cocktail hits the sweet spot, so to speak. It’s creamy without being too heavy. Fresh mint adds a pop to the chocolate that makes the drink perky and fun.

Though no cookies were harmed in the making of this cocktail, we were happy to buy some Thin Mints from a local Girl Scout for inspiration. Very important business-related snack purchase!

Thin Mint Cocktail

1 ounce vodka
1 1/2 ounce Baileys Irish Cream
2 sprigs fresh mint
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (plus some for garnish)

Muddle the mint and vodka in a cocktail shaker, then add Baileys and a tablespoon chocolate syrup. Shake with ice and taste. Add more chocolate, if desired! Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass (with optional chocolate syrup garnish).

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

El Moderno (aka Tequila Old Fashioned)

diycocktails-modernoThe Old Fashioned is the original cocktail … but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a bunch of variations on the drink. Using the same ratio as an Old Fashioned only with different spirits is a great jumping off point for creating your own cocktail. (My book goes into this in detail!)

Here I’ve taken tequila and paired it with agave syrup (a natural partner, since tequila is made with agave) and grapefruit bitters (grapefruit and tequila are also BFFs).

El Moderno

1 1/2 ounces tequila reposado
1 teaspoon agave syrup
3 dashes grapefruit bitters (I used DIY grapefruit bitters)

Pour the agave syrup and bitters into an old-fashioned glass and stir with a bar spoon. Add ice, then pour in tequila and stir. Optional: Garnish with slice of grapefruit.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cocktail

chocolatedippedstrawberrycocktailIt’s almost Valentines Day! This calls for a cocktail. Savvy Housekeeping and I have you covered with this delicious drink that has the delightful flavors of chocolate and fresh strawberries without being syrupy sweet. It’s actually light and refreshing!

The secret to chocolatey flavor without the heaviness of chocolate is chocolate-flavored vodka. Combine that with fresh strawberries and wow! I’m usually not a fan of commercial flavored vodkas because they taste fake to me. But 360 Double Chocolate vodka tastes like real chocolate and is made with natural ingredients. (You could make this with another chocolate vodka. I haven’t tried others, so I can’t tell you whether or not they taste like chemicals.)

This drink is pleasantly sweet with a full flavor that fills your mouth and gets better as it goes. The bitters is a must-have ingredient, because it tempers the sweetness to make it a more complex drink. Cointreau adds another layer that makes this a cocktail experience and not a dessert experience.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces chocolate vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
2 ounces fresh strawberry juice (about 4-5 strawberries)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Make the strawberry juice with a juicer or blender. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping