The Dark and Stormy belongs to same quick-and-tasty category of cocktails as the Moscow Mule. They taste great, but all you have to do is pour a couple of ingredients and add a squeeze of lime.
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum is the classic rum choice (the company would call it a mandatory choice, since they’ve trademarked the cocktail name). However, if you want to substitute your favorite dark and funky rum, ain’t nobody stopping you! I’m sure you won’t end up in court. I like to use spiced rum sometimes. My ginger beer recommendations are Fentiman’s, Bundaberg, or Reed’s ginger beer, but as long as it’s ginger beer and not ginger ale, you’ll be in good shape. (You can go DIY and make your own spiced rum and your own ginger beer.)
Dark and Stormy
2 ounce dark rum
3 ounces ginger beer
1/2 ounce lime juice
In a Collins glass filled with ice, combine the rum, ginger beer, and lime juice. Stir and sample. Adjust to your liking. Enjoy!
Photo by Liam Boylan
Store-bought tomatoes can’t compete with the ones grown in a home garden. My two tomato plants are producing like mad. But I’m not complaining! Sweet, juicy tomatoes can go in everything, even cocktails. For something lighter than a Bloody Mary, I like the Tomato Martini. Tomato is right at home with the garden flavors and scents of gin! Add a little vermouth and Lillet, and you’re ready for garden Happy Hour!
2 ounces tomato-infused gin*
1/2 ounce extra dry vermouth
1 splash Lillet Blanc
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir, then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Optional: Garnish with cherry tomatoes speared on a toothpick
1 part London dry gin
1 part ripe tomato
Chop tomato into chunks, place in sealable glass jar, and then pour gin on top. Seal and shake. Let steep at room temperature away from direct sunlight for one day. Taste to see if desired flavor is achieved. If not, let steep for an additional day. (One large tomato is about 1 cup chopped. So using 1 cup of gin and 1 cup tomato makes enough infused gin for four drinks.)
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
It’s almost Labor Day, which means it’s almost time for a watermelon cocktail! I’m a sucker for cocktails that mix watermelon with something spicy. So when Brugal shared this recipe with me, I was more than eager to give it a try. The balance between refreshing and spicy hits the spot. It’s a patio drink for a three-day weekend.
I’m picky about sharing recipes that liquor companies send me, but this one is solid. I got a bottle of Brugal Extra Dry from the company at Tales of the Cocktail, but you can use another light rum if you prefer. (You may want to start with a little less simple syrup and then add more to taste, since Brugal Extra Dry has a little less sweetness to it.)
Lingering Labor Day
Created by Scott Fitzgerald, Mulberry Project NYC
2 ounce light rum (I used Brugal Extra Dry)
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
6 Watermelon chunks
1 Thai chili
Muddle watermelon and chili, then add remaining ingredients. Shake and fine strain over fresh ice, garnish with watermelon.
Photo courtesy of Brugal
Sometimes all I want is a simple, refreshing drink with two or three ingredients—no shaker required. This one is easy to make yet has a unique flavor, thanks to ginger beer. The Moscow Mule was created by the Cock n Bull Pub in Hollywood in the late ’40s as an attempt to popularize vodka, which hadn’t exactly caught on with the American drinking crowd yet. By the early ’60s, it was a popular drink and vodka started to find its way into more bars. (The product placement with Roger Sterling and his vodka on “Mad Men” is also historically accurate, since clear and odorless vodka was a hit with the hard-drinking office crowd.) The traditional way to serve it is in a chilled copper mug, but unless you’re obsessed with barware, any tall glass will do.
When it’s 90 degrees out and I want a little refreshment, this drink will do the job and do it well! I used Cock n Bull ginger beer, but I also like Fentiman’s, Bundaberg, and Reed’s. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own ginger beer. I used FAIR quinoa vodka, which I have to say really floats my boat. I like a lot of lime in my Moscow Mule, so I go with a shot of vodka and 4 ounces of ginger beer. But you can adjust that to taste.
1 1/2 – 2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
4 – 6 ounces ginger beer
Squeeze in the lime juice into a Collins glass (or chilled copper mug) and put the spent hull in the glass. Add ice cubes, then pour in the vodka and ginger beer.
One could argue that tiki time isn’t limited to just the summer, and one would be right. However, there’s something about summer sunshine that makes a tropical drink with a pineapple spear or tiny umbrella the logical choice. Let’s get tiki!
The Mai Tai is one of the most well-known of the tiki drinks. It’s a bit complicated, with several types of rum and an almond syrup known as orgeat, but once you’re sipping one life becomes quite simple.
You can make your own orgeat, or buy it. It’s easy to make. But if you do buy it, make sure you get one made with real almonds. (Small Hand Foods and Okole Maluna are two good ones.)
3/4 ounce light rum
3/4 ounce gold rum
1/2 ounce dark rum
1 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce lime juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into ice-filled old fashioned glass. (Some people prefer to float the dark rum on top rather than shaking it in.) Garnish with pineapple chunk and sprig of mint.
*If you just don’t have those three different types of rum on hand, you could do one ounce each of light and dark rum instead.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
The Martini is the simplest of classic cocktails. But like almost everything else having to do with cocktails, there’s much debate about what is the “right way” to make a Martini. To me, the only right way is the one that tastes good to whoever gets to drink it. That’s not to say that I don’t have my opinions on the subject, however. So here’s my two cents on the common disagreements … that you’re free to take to heart or ignore. Of course, I think I’m right.
- Gin vs. Vodka: If you want to get technical about it, a Martini is supposed to be made with gin. So if you prefer it with vodka, that would be a Vodka Martini. I don’t care about the semantics, but that will help you if you’re ordering it and don’t want to confuse the bartender. I favor a Martini made with gin, because the flavors of the gin mix well with vermouth and vodka is neutral. But, it’s like your mouth and stuff. So whatever.
- Shaken vs. Stirred: Generally, if a cocktail is made with only lightweight alcoholic ingredients (so no juices, liqueurs, or syrups) then there’s no reason to shake the drink. Stirring is enough to bind the ingredients together as well as chill and dilute the cocktail properly. But some people like it shaken, whether because it’s faster or because they have an affinity for quoting James Bond. I don’t like the ice shards that come from shaking, so I’m heavily biased toward stirring Martinis. (I think you should be, too, but I won’t—and can’t—stop you from shaking.)
- Ratio of dry vermouth to spirit: Some people drink chilled gin and call it a Martini. I don’t know what they have against dry vermouth. I like a dry Martini (recipe below), but even a Martini that uses twice as much vermouth as I did tastes good to me. Experiment and then remember the ratio! My favorite is 4 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth.
- Garnish: Olives or a lemon twist are the traditional garnishes. I like when my drink comes with a snack, so I usually go for olives. But I’ve had them with a cornichon (aka, tiny pickle) and find that to be just as satisfying. (If you add a little pickle or olive brine to the drink, that’s a “dirty” Martini.)
Without further delay, it’s time to actually drink a Martini:
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Pour the gin and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive or lemon twist.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
I just came back from a 5-day cocktail extravaganza known as Tales of the Cocktail. While I will share all sorts of details so you can live (and learn) vicariously … here’s a recipe I picked up that relates to the Old Fashioned kick I’ve been on lately.
One of the most popular events was the Employees Only takeover of a New Orleans bar called One Eyed Jack’s. Employees Only is a fancy New York bar voted best bar by all sorts of fancy institutions. So, everyone wanted to go and it was more than a wee bit crowded.
It was actually too crowded for me, even though I was all hip on the list and whatnot. But you don’t have to wait in any lines or be on any lists to try one of the evening’s recipes. Look at what I’ve done for you. You’re welcome!
I shared my basic Old Fashioned recipe earlier, so here’s the Employees Only version that’s a bit fancified. They used Zacapa Rum 23 in their take on and Old Fashioned. I usually don’t specify a brand if I can help it, but who am I to improve on their recipe? (If you don’t have that you could use any aged rum you like. You want a deep character for your spirit, so if you don’t have a well-aged rum, try a whiskey as you would in a traditional Old Fashioned.)
Employees Only Old Fashioned
1 1/4 ounces Zacapa Rum 23
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 dash orange bitters (Reagans’, Angostura, or homemade)
1/4 ounce water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cube brown sugar
Lemon zest for garnish
Orange zest for garnish
Place sugar and brown sugar cube into a rocks glass. Add Angostura Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters, orange bitters and water. Muddle sugar cube. Add rum into rocks glass. Stir well. Garnish with lemon and orange zest.
Photos courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail
Cocktail history is a little fuzzy (no big surprise, huh?). As far as we know the Old Fashioned was the first cocktail. Hundreds of years later, it’s still an awesome drink. While this drink has gotten many embellishments over the years, the classic recipe is just spirit, sugar, and bitters. But you can do the “sugar” part a few different ways and still have the traditional tipple.
If you use a sugar cube, you’ll be getting one teaspoon of sugar in your drink. An easier (and smoother) way to get the same amount of sugar is to use a teaspoon of rich simple syrup. The “rich” just means you make the syrup by cooking 2 parts sugar with 1 part water. An even smoother way is to use a teaspoon of gomme syrup, which is a rich simple syrup with a little gum Arabic added as an emulsifier. All three drinks will be fantastic, but the gomme will add a silky texture and fullness to the drink that will make it even more luxurious. You can get the recipe for gomme syrup from my post on Serious Eats.
Whether you make gomme or not, you can (and should!) make yourself and Old Fashioned.
2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
1 teaspoon gomme syrup or rich simple syrup
2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Put the syrup and bitters in an Old Fashioned glass and stir, then add a couple of large ice cubes and the whiskey. Stir until well chilled. Optional: Garnish with an orange twist or slice.
(If you prefer to use a sugar cube or teaspoon of fine sugar, you may want to add a drop or two of water when you mix it with the bitters)
The Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks, and this variation made with nocino is really a treat!
I got together with fellow Manhattan enthusiast Savvy Housekeeping to play with nocino, a liqueur made from green walnuts. We tried one version that included sweet vermouth and one that didn’t, but the nocino-only version was the clear winner. She and I are big bourbon fans, but if you favor a rye Manhattan that would likely work really well with this liqueur, too.
Black Walnut Manhattan
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce nocino
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, nocino, and bitters. Stir the ingredients and strain into a glass. Optional: Garnish with a cherry.
Photo by Savvy Housekeeping
I used to think my dad was crazy when he put salt on his watermelon. Though I still wouldn’t do that while eating it, I’d definitely recommended it when drinking it. This watermelon cocktail with a touch of salt and spice is perfect for July. So grab a watermelon and get to it!
I’m editor of Liqurious, and this recipe was part of a series of “market fresh” seasonal cocktail recipes we developed for Patron’s Cocktail Lab a while back.
5 one-inch cubes of fresh watermelon
a pinch of kosher salt
a pinch of cayenne
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. agave nectar
2 oz. silver tequila
Muddle the watermelon, salt, and cayenne. Add lime juice, agave nectar, and tequila along with ice and shake. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with a mixture of salt and cayenne.