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

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.

Blood Orange Old Fashioned

Now is the time of the dramatic and beautiful blood orange! So Savvy Housekeeping and I concocted a simple and simply delicious drink for the occasion, a variation on the Old Fashioned made with blood orange and maple syrup.

Like the original Old Fashioned, this drink is a good way to enjoy bourbon without hiding it’s flavor. Maple syrup and blood orange are a surprisingly good pair, adding a bittersweet touch to the heat and sweet undertones of bourbon.

If you are one of those Super-Bowl-lovin’ types, maybe this could be your Super Bowl drink? Don’t one of the teams wear orange costumes? Theme drink!

Blood Orange Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce blood orange juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Twist of orange to garnish

In a glass, combine bourbon, juice, bitters, and maple syrup. Stir with ice. Garnish with orange twist.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Pumpkin Flip

I never get sick of pumpkin-flavored everything. My new favorite is this pumpkiny bourbon cocktail I made with Savvy Housekeeping. It’s light and fluffy while being bold and spicy at the same time. It’s the perfect special-treat cocktail for all of autumn. Whether you have leftover pumpkins from Halloween or just want a Thanksgiving cocktail, this one will do the trick!

We used St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, but you could also make it with homemade allspice dram. (I used up all my DIY allspice dram on Tiki creations already!) For the pumpkin puree, you can use the canned variety (just be sure it’s not flavored at all) or make your own fresh pumpkin puree. If you’re concerned about using raw egg whites, you can use pasteurized egg whites. However, we used fresh eggs straight from the Savvy Housekeeping chicken coop!

Pumpkin Flip
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce allspice liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1 egg white
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour the bourbon, liqueur, simple syrup, puree, lemon juice, and egg white into a shaker without ice and shake hard for about 30 seconds. Add ice and shake again for about 1 minute. Ice will build up on the outside of the shaker if you’ve done it right, so you’ll need to cover the shaker with a tea towel first so your hands won’t get too cold. Crack the shaker open and pour out the drink through the gap. Top with bitters.

Old Fashioned

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.

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)

Black Walnut Manhattan

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

Bourbon Apple Tea Time Cocktail

This recipe uses “The Life of the Party” cocktail ratio from my book (3 parts strong, 2 parts sweet, 1 part sour). It’s the same one you’d use to make a Margarita, but this drink is nothing like a Margarita! Bourbon, apples, and tea … it all sounds so Southern (as in The South and not South of the Border). The flavors combine well for a lightly sweet and herbal cocktail with the heat of bourbon.

Bourbon Apple Tea Time
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. honey-tea-apple syrup*
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

*Honey-Tea-Apple Syrup (enough for four cocktails)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1 apple, chopped
1 Earl Grey tea bag

Cook water, honey and apples together in a pot. When it comes to a boil, turn off and steep tea bag in the mixture for five minutes. Pour in container and refrigerate until needed. When used in a cocktail, strain out the apples. You could even save the apples to use as a dessert topping.

Hey, Fig Spender

If you like figs and Manhattans (which you have to! because they are both delicious!), here’s a sweet, autumn variation on a Manhattan. It’s the perfect drink to sip by the fireplace.

Go DIY and make fig bourbon to use in this recipe. If you’re really feeling adventurous, make the bitters yourself, too. Dubonnet is an aperitif much like sweet vermouth, and it can be found in most liquor stores. However, this would taste great with vermouth as a substitute.

Pardon the punny name … I couldn’t resist.

Hey, Fig Spender

2 ounces fig-infused bourbon*
1 ounce Dubonnet
2 dashes cherry bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*Fig-infused bourbon

1 part bourbon
1 part fresh figs, stemmed and quartered

Put the figs in a sealable glass jar and pour in the bourbon. Seal the jar and shake. Let the infusion steep for 3-5 days, tasting after each day until the desired flavor is achieved. For a stronger flavor, steep for even longer. Strain out the solids through cheese cloth. Store infused bourbon as you would any other spirit.

This recipe was invented using a ratio from the book! For tips and recipes for more simple yet amazing homemade drinks, check out DIY Cocktails

Photo by wickenden

Kentucky Apple Sour

Horse racing and bourbon go hand in hand, so here’s a recipe from the book In honor of the Kentucky Derby. You don’t have to be in the stands wearing your best seer sucker suit or fancy hat to enjoy a little bit of Kentucky at home!

Kentucky Apple Sour

1 1/2 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce  fresh apple juice
1/2 ounce  fresh lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an apple slice, if desired.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Buy DIY Cocktails and learn how to invent your own drinks!