I enjoy my cocktails. That being said I think others should as well, but many won’t step away from the wine glass or beer mug because they had a bad cocktail and assume they are all horrible.
This is not true! There is redemption to be had. So if you’re feeling adventurous I’d like to share with you some of my all time favorites. The recipes with these concoctions are my own, some extremely simple, and a few ‘ornate’.
A bar does not have to be elaborate, a few simple key ingredients will find you pouring drinks that make you the envy of your friends.
First you will a couple of items to get you started –
A batch of simple syrup. Ok this may be tricky, you might want to stretch first. In a small sauce pan add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. (breathe it’s ok you can do this!) Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, don’t let it boil. (it will go from cloudy to clear) Once dissolved remove from the heat and let it cool. That’s it! You’ve just made your first Bar ingredient. Wait wait don’t drink that..it’s not good..well not yet. We have to doctor that up a tad. Once you’ve made your cocktails be sure to store your simple syrup in the fridge. It’ll keep for about a week or so.
The next item you’ll need is a shaker. This lets you quickly chill your drinks and you can strain the ice and other items out or pour the whole thing in the glass leaving it “on the rocks.”
A long metal spoon for stirring. It’s good to get a bartenders spoon as it has small slots in it which is very useful for getting cherries, or olives out of the jar and leaving the syrup/brine. (That being said you will also need one TO get the syrup/brine out so that would be one with no slots)
A shaker, whatever style you like! Here are the two I have, a regular shaker and a Boston shaker –
You will also need a measuring device for the spirits. I recommend the double jigger as seen here. The large side is 1.5 ounces and the small side is 3/4 of an ounce (an ounce if you pour to the very top)
Side Note – For making cocktails I do not use small ice cubes. I use the cubes that come out of my ice maker in my freezer (because having ones from my oven would just be silly).
Let’s get to pouring!
Vodka Gimlet – You will see many recipes calling for Roses Sweetened Lime Juice. This is ‘ok’ in a pinch. But if you want a really good gimlet then get some fresh limes asap. (juicy ones, not hard ones, you won’t get hardly any juice from them)
2 jiggers of good vodka
1 jigger fresh lime juice (more or less depending on how much lime you like)
1 jigger simple syrup (again more or less if you want it sweeter or less)
Pour all the ingredients into a shaker and shake for about 15 seconds. Pour contents into a highball glass.
**Variation – substitute Pom (pomegranate juice, not liqueur) for the simple syrup.
Vodka Gimlet – Photo Courtesy Martha Stewart
Gin Martini –
2 jiggers of good gin
Small Splash of vermouth (If you want a dry martini less vermouth and if you want a very dry martini just hold the bottle of vermouth up the shaker and say “See the vermouth?”)
Add ice to shaker along with gin and vermouth and STIR for 20 seconds. Do not shake a gin martini. You only shake a vodka martini. You don’t want to bruise the gin. Seriously I’m not making this up! Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with green olives or lemon twist.
**Variation – substitute vodka for the gin to make a vodka Martini. For a ‘dirty’ martini add 1-2 teaspoons of the olive juice to the shaker and shake for 20 seconds. Do not stir a vodka martini or it won’t get cold enough.
So there you have 2 very simple cocktails. I am a vodka kinda gal and Derek loves the botanical flavors of gin.
Let’s get crazy shall we? These next 2 drinks do require some extra or unusual ingredients. All can be found at your local grocery store or liquor store. Unless you live in Oregon, like me, then you make a run for the California border and hit the liquor stores there. Trust me, I’d rather not take out a second mortgage on my home if I don’t have to.
Bloody Mary – Yes we’ve all had them, some are great, some are garbage. Mine? Great!
For EACH Bloody Mary you will need –
2 jiggers vodka (You can use 1 jigger plain vodka and 1 jigger Peppar Vodka by Absolute which makes it more spicy)
1 tsp celery salt
7 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 turns of fresh cracked pepper tomato juice (you can use V-8 juice and get your daily serving of veggies. And what a way to get them I might add!)
Tabasco to taste (I like 5 dashes spicy, Derek likes 2 milder)
For a garnish I like to do a stick of celery, and a couple of big green olives on a long skewer.
In a tall glass add ice to fill 2/3’s of the way I love using pint size mason jars. Add all ingredients but tomato juice. Stir really well to combine. (about 15 seconds) Top glass off with tomato juice and stir to combine. It’s best to serve this with a long straw. Now some like to rim their glasses with salt, I’m not a big fan of this. However, if you are than by all means do so! For a nice addition try using a mixture bar salt and bacon salt.
Bloody Mary – Photo Courtesy Katie Armour
A summer time favorite, but really good anytime, is Sangria. Now this is for you wine drinkers who are leery to let go of the bottle. It’s time to put the bottle down and reach for the sippy cup.
1 bottle of a dry red wine (750ml) a Cab or Syrah works very well. Don’t get an expensive bottle because we’re going to mixing a lot of things in it and you won’t taste the finer nuances of the wine.
1/2 cup VOS Brandy
1/4 cup triple sec or any orange liqueur
2 TBS orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup simple syrup
1 orange – sliced thin
1 lemon – sliced thin
1 apple, or pear or peach cut into small thin wedges
You can even add a handful of green grapes or some sliced strawberries when they are in season.
1 (750ml) sparkling water (You can omit the simple syrup and use 7-Up instead of sparkling water) Just make sure whichever you use it’s well chilled first.
In a large container add all ingredients expect the sparkling water. Cover and let chill for about 3-4 hours. When it’s time to serve, you can ladle it out into wine glasses, that are about 1/2 full with ice or even pint sized mason jars top off with a big of the sparkling water (or 7-UP if you omitted the simple syrup) Be sure to get some of the fruit to add to the glass because it will look gorgeous!
Well there you have it, four of my favorite cocktails. Let me know what your favorite cocktails are!