I have a weekly column on Serious Eats where I post recipes for DIY cocktail ingredients. That’s a lot of homemade cocktail ingredients! While I like all the recipes I post there, I do have my favorites. So if you have a hankerin’ to do a cocktail project but aren’t sure where to start, these are my favorite recipes I’ve done there so far:
Ginger Liqueur ~ While I love ginger liqueur, I was surprised that this ended up being one of my favorite and most useful homemade ingredients. It turns out I wasn’t alone, and I’ve been hearing from readers that they also fell in love with the slight kick and light sweetness of ginger liqueur.
Orange Bitters ~ Even though you only use a few drops at a time, bitters are a critical part of making cocktails. These orange bitters are different than what’s on the market while still performing reliably in cocktails. DIY bitters have a reputation as being a project for cocktail geeks only, but they’re actually not difficult to make. You’ll need to get a hold of some special tree bark and other things I had to go to the hippie store in Berkeley to find, but the result is something you can keep around for years.
Grenadine ~Real grenadine is radically different from the weird dyed-red goo you usually see in stores. For one thing, homemade grenadine actually tastes like it was made with pomegranates. It has a bright, tart flavor that goes well in everything from Tiki cocktails to light summer sparkling drinks. Also, if you make this, you just might be surprised to discover that you actually like Shirley Temples after all.
Allspice Dram ~ Spice is somewhat rare in your typical cocktail, which is why I love this allspice liqueur. It’s most known as a Tiki ingredient, but once you start experimenting with it, you’ll see it’s at home in a whole variety of concoctions.
Homemade Gin ~ Without going through the whole trouble (and possible illegality) of distilling your own spirits, you can still make a gin that’s darn good. And you can control the flavor profile: Maybe you want intense juniper with bold coriander notes? Or light floral and citrus flavors with a strong grassy finish? It’s up to you. Though, it’s basically gin-flavored vodka, it’s a totally legit way of making gin … many companies do a more fancified version of this process to make their product.